Associate Professor Yvonne Te Ruki-Rangi-O-Tangaroa Underhill-Sem

BA, BA(Hons) (VUW), PGDip, MA (Hawaii), PhD (Waikato)


From Feb 2021, I am happily moving a new academic home in Pacific Studies, Te Wānanga o Waipapa, Faculty of Arts.  I will continue to teach Gender and Development as well as supervise graduate research students in Development Studies, in addition to Pacific Studies teaching and research.

  • Member, Pacific Gender Research Portal Reference Group, Department of Pacific Affaris, Australian National University 2020-
  • Co-Chair Advisory Research Group, Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development 2017-19
  • Member International Geography Union, Gender and Geography Commission 2016-
  • Director, New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research, 2017-2018
  • Deputy Chair, Inaugural Pacific PBRF Panel, 2016-2018
  • Chair Marsden Social Science Fast Start Panel 2018
  • Member, Marsden Social Science Panel, 2016-2018
  • Fulbright Campus Advisor (Maori/Pacific Advisor), 2014-

Co-Chair Oxfam NZ, (2015-18, Board member from 2009); Director, Development Studies, (2008-14); Research Fellow, Department of Human Geography, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University (2002-03); Expert, Rural Development, Food Security and the Environment, The Secretariat of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Brussels (2001-02); Independent Scholar, Apia, Samoa and Bonn, Germany (1997-2001); Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Papua New Guinea (1990-96).

Research | Current

  • The Maire trail: flowers, floriculture, festivals and funerals (Cook Islands, NZ, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Niue, Tonga) 
  • Towards a feminist post-colonial development of the Pacific 
  • Feminist theories of democracy and solidarity for the Pacific (Pacific)
  • Demography: feminist and post-structuralist leanings (PNG, Global)
  • Maternities and menstruation: towards a critical geography of fertility
  • Marketplaces, citizenship and diverse economies (with Anita Lacey)
  • The audacity of the ocean: post-colonial geographies of Oceania

Teaching | Current

Pacific 205/305 Pacific Innovation and Sustainability

Pacific 714 Pacific Research Methodologies and Practice

Develop 702 Gender and Development 

Past courses

Gender 700 Critical Theories and Methods in Gender Studies

DEVELOP 705 Contemporary Issues in Gender and Development

DEVELOP 709 Theories of International Development

Develop 780 Honours Dissertation

Develop 712 Undertaking Development Research


Postgraduate supervision

PhD Thesis in progress

2013, Suzanne Loughlin: Civil-military relations: NZ in Afghanistan (with Anita Lacey) (part-time). Politics

2020 Cathy Bolinga: Analysing philanthropic Foundations and social goods delivery in Papua New Guinea from a moral economy and Melanesian perspective (with Mark Busse). Development Studies

2020 Angela Wilton: A feminist foreign/aid policy for Aotearoa NZ? Towards an intersectional, indigenous framework for international development (with Jennifer Curtin). Development Studies

2021 Siaan Mackie: Transforming plastic waste into green industry: exploring the impact of plastic pollution on Small Island Developing States in the Pacific and as an opportunity for sustainable development. Development Studies

2021 Veronika Kamen: Indigenous women: maintaining cultural values and empowering women through noken knitting culture in West Papua 

PhD Theses completed
2021, Sochanny Hak: Gender Roles in a Highly Contested Upland Cambodia: A Case of Land Grabbing in Indigenous Communities (with Andreas Neef). Development Studies

2020 Inaz Ahmed: Producing tourism policy, democracy and marginalised local communities: the case of the Maldives (with Nick Lewis). Development Studies

2019, Ema M. Golea Tagicakibau: Gender and Militarization in Fiji (with Anita Lacey, Steve Ratuva). Politics

2019, Karamia Muller: Siapo online: a gendered analysis of digital space (with Deirdre Brown). Architecture

2019, Christine Newport:  Vaka Moana as Policy Space: Navigating the Cook Islands Case of Climate Change Mobility (with John Hay). Development Studies

2019, Maine Estonitas: Seasons of Change: Ni-Vanuatu and the Recognised Seasonal Employer’s (RSE) Scheme (with Christina Stringer). Development Studies

2016, Sue Crabtree, A complexity thinking exploration of the maternal health care system in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea (with Anita Lacey). Development Studies

2014, Tufuoa Panapa, Ola lei : developing healthy communities in Tuvalu  (with Associate Professors Julie Park and Judith Littleton). Development Studies

2013, Evelyn Marsters, A transnational syndemic: Cook Islanders and their experiences of TB and diabetes  (with  Ward Friesen, Julie Park). Development Studies

2013, Faheem Mohammed, "Property Rights, Contracts, and Development: A Study of the Traditional Institutions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan  (with Ken Jackson). Development Studies

2013, Tulia Thompson “Queer lives in Fiji’ (with Vivienne Elizabeth). Sociology

2013, Hilary Tolley, "Complexities of Education Sector Wide Approaches in Pacific Island States" (with Eve Coxon). Development Studies

2012, Sheila V. Siar, "Homeland-diaspora ties for development through knowledge exchange networks: The case of highly skilled Filipino migrants in New Zealand and Australia" (with  Ward Friesen). Development Studies

PhD Theses incomplete

2013, Jacqueline Fa'amatuainu: Climate Law in the Pacific (with Andreas Neef) (terminated)


MA Theses in progress

Lisa Moir : Complex health crises, narratives and the feminisation of health

Rafa Itchon: Ocean policies in 21st century

Roi Burnett: Gender discourses and development in Kiribati

Sabrina Wright: Climate change energy and water in Samoa

MA Theses completed

2018 Kimberly Kretschmar Moving forward:Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Accessing and Leaving Higher Education in Fiji

2018 Kayt Bronimman Wakabaut Long Pawa: The Bougainville Community Government Act.

2016 Reuben Garrett-Walker: Humanitarianism and development: from camps to jobs?

2015 Lauretta Ah Sam: Yours, mine, ours: exploring social relations, siapo and the protectiom pf tradiational cultural experssions in Samoa

2015 Heather Masaki: Exploring climate change, gener and transnationalism: perspectice of Pacific women in Auckland.

2013 Sanela Smolovic Jones: Feminist Soldarity Building and working with Difference: the case of the Women's Soldairy Movement in Fiji

2013 Rachel Faleatua “An Analysis of the Construction of Teenage Pregnancy in Samoa through the Conceptual Frameworks of Human Rights and Female Empowerment’

2011 Nicky Spicer Care and social protection: a case study of professional women in Port Moresby, PNG.

2011 Jaclyn Bonnici Women market vendors as citizens.

2011 Tim Oh, "Dengue and public private partnerships" (Co-supervised with Dr Jude McCool).

2011 Konrad Read, "Social reproduction and care economies" (Co-supervised with Dr Kathy Smits).

2011 Margie Aglid, "Shell trade between Asia and the Pacific" (Co-supervised with Dr Claudia Bell).

2011 Carolyn Rickards-Rees, “Philanthropy without Borders: Foundations for Development?”

2011 Tim Baice, "Youth citizenship in South Auckland, Samoa and Tonga" (Co-supervised with Associate Professor Ann Sullivan).

2011 Jane Victor, "Youth wellbeing in the Seychelles".

2010 Yardena Tankel, "Gender, citizenship and in security in Northeast Brazil" (Co-supervised with Dr Anita Lacey).

2010 Marni Gilbert, "An exploration into peasant agency within agrarian reform in the Phillipines".

2009 O'neal Mendoza "Procure The Cure : Exploring 'Monopsony' in Pharmaceutical Procurement as a Strategy to Improving Access to Essential medicines in the Western Pacific" (Co-supervised with  Professor Peter Davis)

2009 Cathy Bolinga "Sustainability of HIV/AIDS Preventive Programs By NGOs In Papua New Guinea" (Co-supervised with Associate Professor Chris Bullen)
2009 Martin Child "Residual Weapons And The Politics of Insecurity" (Co-supervised with Ass Prof Ken Jackson)

2008. Andre Degenkolb "Blossoming Businesses – Brighter Futures: An explorative case study into private sector led development initiatives in Papua New Guinea" (co-supervisor: Dr Christina Stringer).

2008. Dwain Hindriksen "Barefoot Patrols: the paradox of post-conflict development and the role of the NZDAF in Solomon Islands".

2008. Rebecca Kahn "Voices of Fair Trade Coffee Consumptio" (co-supervisor: Dr Mike Lee).

2008. Kosala Krishnan "Child Poverty: to what extent does primary education make a difference".

2008. Jennifer Margaret "Learning in social movements: experiences in the Pakeha Treaty workers movement"
(co-supervisor: Assoc Prof David Williams).

2008. Sara Mulville "Carbon credits in Bolivia".

2008. Maria del Carmen Perez "Breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty: Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) programmes in Paraguay" (co-supervisor: Dr Antonio Diaz).

2008. Jenna Phillips "International civil society responses to complex humanitarian emergencies: contribution or complications in Rwanda" (co-supervisor: Dr Anita Lacey).

2008. Friederike Schubert "Participatory budgeting as a 3rd way in water management in Porto Alegre" (co-supervisor: Dr Brad Coombes).

2008. Maria Rita Toledo "Financing for Development: the challenges of raising funds for development in the Third Sector in Brazil" (co-supervisor: Dr Antonio Diaz). 


Pacific Island Visiting Fellowship, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge 2018

Māori and Pasifika Scholarship to attend the New Zealand Women in Leadership Programme, Funded by Universities, New Zealand,  2012

Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, City University of New York Graduate Centre, New York, USA, 2010/11

World University Network (WUN) Award, offered by University of Washington, Seattle, USA, 2010

Association of Pacific Rim Universities Fellowship (APRU), University of Santa Cruz, USA, and University of Osaka, Japan, 2004

Areas of expertise

Gender and development, critical population geographies, feminist political ecology, Pacific development, progressive social movements

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.
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. T. R. R. O. T. (2020). Audacity with obligation: decoloniality in Pacific geographies. Response to Sarah Radcliffe and Tracey Skelton. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 41 (3), 339-340. 10.1111/sjtg.12340
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. T. R. R. O. T. (2020). The audacity of the ocean: Gendered politics of positionality in the Pacific. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 41 (3), 314-328. 10.1111/sjtg.12334
  • Lacey, A., & Underhill-Sem, Y. (2018). Intersecting intellects, diverging bodies: "joint' feminist research in the Pacific. GENDER PLACE AND CULTURE, 25 (12), 1738-1758. 10.1080/0966369X.2018.1499615
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. J. (2017). Academic work as radical practice: getting in, creating a space,not giving up. Geographical Review, 55 (3), 332-337. 10.1111/1745-5871.12202
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. (2017). Fertility. In D. Richardson, N. Castree, M. F. Goodchild, A. Kobayashi, W. Liu, R. A. Marston (Eds.) The international encyclopedia of geography: People, the earth, environment, and technology (pp. ). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. (2016). Critical gender studies and international development studies: interdisciplinarity, intellectual agility and inclusion. Palgrave Communications, 2, 1-5. 10.1057/palcomms.2016.12
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. J., & Underhill, J. (2015). A cuppa tea for the Mama's. Te Papa Exhibition Notes (8). Related URL.
  • Underhill-Sem, Y. J. (2015). Silences of the discourse: maternal bodies in out-of-the-way places. In J. A. Bennett (Ed.) Oceanian journeys and sojourns: home thoughts abroad (pp. 275-292). Dunedin: Otago University Press. Related URL.