Associate Professor Jemaima Tiatia

PhD, DPH, MA (Hons), BA

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HOS - Te Wananga o Waipapa


Associate Professor Jemaima Tiatia is Acting Pro Vice Chancellor (Pacific), and Co-Head of School, Te Wānanga o Waipapa, School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies, University of Auckland. She is of Samoan heritage and has a public/population health background. She was one of six panelists on the New Zealand Government’s 2018 Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry and currently a Board member for the inaugural Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. Her expertise lies in Pacific Studies, Pacific health, mental health and wellbeing, suicide prevention and postvention, health inequities, climate change, and youth development. She has held various governance positions, including as a current member of the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s Public Health Committee, and as a previous member of the Mental Health Foundation’s Suicide Bereavement Service Advisory Group, the Health Promotions Agency’s National Depression Initiative Advisory Group, and the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Suicide Mortality Review Committee.

Research | Current

  • Principal investigator - for Health Research Council of NZ (HRC) funded - 'Climate Change and Mental Wellbeing: The Impacts on Pacific Peoples’ (2019).
  • Principal investigator - Pacific Health Research Knowledge Translation project, HRC funded - 'Heilala Malu – Tongan Framework for Suicide Prevention Resource’ (2017).
  • Principal investigator for Te Ra o Te Waka Hourua funded - 'Pacific Suicide Postvention Guidelines' with Hibiscus Research Ltd (2017).
  • Principal investigator for Te Ra o Te Waka Hourua funded - 'Suicide Postvention: Support for Pacific Communities' with Hibiscus Research Ltd (2016)
  • Co-investigator - The University of Auckland Adolescent Health Research Group
  • Principal investigator - HRC and Ministry of Health Pacific Partnership Programme funded project - ‘Suicide Prevention for Tongan Youth in New Zealand' (2015).
  • Postdoctoral Pacific Health Research Fellowship HRC funded - 'Suicide and Samoans: The Journey Towards Prevention’ (2014).
  • HRC Pacific Health PhD Research Award - ‘Reasons to Live: NZ-born Samoan Young People's Responses to Suicidal Behaviours’ (2003).
  • Principal investigator - HRC Project Grant - ‘Pacific Youth Emergency Department Suicide Study’ (2000).  

Teaching | Current

PACIFIC 105 The Contemporary Pacific

PACIFIC 100/G Introduction to Pacific Studies

PACIFIC 213  Pacific Wellbeing: Empowering Dimensions

PACFIC 313 Pacific Wellbeing: Empowering Dimensions

PACIFIC 711 Intervention, Prevention and Promotion of Pacific Wellbeing

Postgraduate supervision

PhD in progress

2021: Amanda Sullivan-Lee - Pusiaki and Ohi: Tongan Adoption as an Indigenous Practice, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland 

2020: Shauney Thompsen - Pasifika youth narratives of negotiating positive mental health within a digital context, Clinical Psychology, University of Auckland (with Kerry Gibson)

2019: Sarah McLean-Orsborn - Depression in young Samoan females. Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2019: Kerryn Galo - Language Attitudes towards the Vernacular Education Policy and Practices in Multilingual Solomon Islands: An Ethnographic Perspective, Pacific Studies, (with Lisa Uperesa)

2019: Veisinia Pulu-Lakai - Co-designing a community-based intervention programme for prediabetes​. Pacific Health, Massey University (with Dr Ridvan Firestone and Prof. Barry Borman)

2015: Eliza Puna - Cook Islands youth: Positive mental health wellbeing and suicide prevention. Pacific Studies, University of Auckland


PhD completed

2021: Caleb Marsters - More than an athlete: Exploring the mental wellbeing and help-seeking experiences of young Pacific men in elite sports, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2021: Therese Kiely - Pacific young women’s images of God and mental wellbeing (with Caroline Blyth). Theology, University of Auckland


Masters in progress

2020: Melemanu Fainga'a - Trauma-Informed Care for Tongans in Aotearoa New Zealand, Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland 

2020: Laura Tongalea - Use of abstinence based 12 Step Programmes: Exploring the experiences of Pasifika consumers, Master of Health Practice, Health and Enviromental Sciences, AUT (with Assoc Prof. Maria Bellringer)

2020 Miraneta Lemalu - Ta’elega I Petesa – Longing for a Bethesda Solution, Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2020: Dantzel Tiakiahas - Responding to Pacific maternal and paternal mental health, Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland and Moana Research (with Dr Seini Taufa)


Masters completed

2021: Pauline Rupeni - Akaupokotuanga i te Reo Māori: Learnings from Cook Islands communities and their youth (with Marcia Leenen-Young). Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2019: Sarah McLean - Depression in young Samoan females: The views of mental health service providers, Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2018: Joanna Minster -  Cultural resilience and mental wellbeing among multi-ethnic Cook Islands young adults. Master of Public Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland

2018: Sonia Pope - Exploring the intergenerational views of wellbeing among Tongan women (with Tanya Samu). Master of Arts, Education, University of Auckland

2018: Rose Palmer -  Factors that foster positive mental health status in unpaid at-home caregivers for the elderly in New Zealand (with Ngaire Kerse)Master of Public Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland

2018: Sili Pita - Navigating the historical context of incest in Samoa: 1900’s–2000s (with Damon Salesa). Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2017: Caleb Marsters - Young Pacific male athletes and positive mental health wellbeing. Master of Public Health, Pacific Health, University of Auckland

2016: Tony Patolo - Exploring young Pacific tertiary students’ views and experiences of bullying. Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2016: Desiree Chan Chui - Violence against women in Samoa: 1970s-1990s (with Damon Salesa). Master of Arts, Pacific Studies, University of Auckland

2015: Cecelia Faumuina Khaka - Malanga: The voice of positive dissonance. Master of Philosophy - Art and Design, AUT (with Prof. Webley Ings and Dr David Sinfield)

2013: Eliza Puna - New Zealand born Cook Islands youth views towards positive mental wellbeing and suicide prevention. Master of Public Health, University of Auckland


Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific)

Co-Head of School - School of Maori Studies and Pacific Studies

Academic Head - Pacific Studies

Areas of expertise

  • Suicide prevention and postvention
  • Wellbeing
  • Mental health 
  • Pacific Studies
  • Youth development 
  • Pacific cultural competencies
  • Health inequities

Committees/Professional groups/Services

2021: Governer-General Appointment to the inaugural Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

2018: Government Appointment to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry

2016-current: Appointment to the Health Research Council Public Health Research Committee

2017-2018: Member of the New Zealand Rugby League NZ Wellbeing Committee

2014-2017: Ministerial Appointment to the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s New Zealand Suicide Mortality Review Committee

2016-2017: Appointed to Unitec’s Standing Committee, Fono Faufautua Council 

2016-2017: Committee member of the Health Promotion Agency's National Depression Initiative Advisory Group 

2014-2018: Committee member of the Mental Health Foundation's Suicide Bereavement Advisory 

2014-current: Member of Ara Taiohi: For People Working with Young People

2014-current: Member of the International Association for Suicide Prevention

2012-2014: Member of the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry


Reviewer for:

Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health

Pacific Health Dialog

Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing: Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

New Zealand Medical Journal

BWB Books

Kotuitui: NZ Journal of Social Sciences 

Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology

Pacific Health Review

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

Journal of Primary Health Care



Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Tiatia-Seath, J., Lay-Yee, R., & von Randow, M. (2019). Supporting the bereavement needs of Pacific communities in New Zealand following a suicide: A survey of service providers. Suicidology Online, 10, 1-8. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Roy Lay-Yee
  • Marsters, C., & Tiatia-Seath, J. (2019). Young Pacific Male Rugby Players’ Perceptions and Experiences of Mental Wellbeing. Sports, 7 (4), 1-19. 10.3390/sports7040083
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Caleb Marsters
  • Clark, T. C., Le Grice, J., Moselen, E., Fleming, T., Crengle, S., Tiatia-Seath, J., & Lewycka, S. (2018). Health and wellbeing of Māori secondary school students in New Zealand: Trends between 2001, 2007 and 2012. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 42 (6), 553-561. 10.1111/1753-6405.12839
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Terryann Clark, Jade Le Grice, Theresa Fleming
  • Patterson, R., Durie, M., Disley, B., Tiatia-Seath, J., & Tualamali'i. J (2018). He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Wellington, New Zealand: Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ron Paterson
  • Tiatia-Seath, J., Underhill-Sem, Y., & Woodward, A. (2018). The nexus between climate change, mental health and wellbeing and Pacific peoples. Pacific Health Dialog, 21 (2), 47-49. 10.26635/phd.2018.911
  • Tiatia-Seath, J. (2018). Damon Salesa, Island time: New Zealand’s Pacific futures [Book review]. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples10.1177/1177180118767434
  • Thabrew, H., Gandeza, E., Bahr, G., Bettany, D., Bampton, C., Cooney, E., ... Tiatia-Seath, J. (2018). The management of young people who self-harm by New Zealand Infant, child and adolescent mental health services: cutting-edge or cutting corners?. Australasian Psychiatry10.1177/1039856217748248
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Hiran Thabrew
  • Tiatia-Seath, J. (2018). The importance of Pacific cultural competency in healthcare. Pacific Health Dialog, 21 (1), 8-9. 10.26635/phd.2018.909


Contact details

Office hours

By appointment

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 103B
New Zealand

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