Dr Brad Coombes

BA(Hons)/PhD (Otago)

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Senior Lecturer

Research | Current

Research interests

  • Environmental management and conservation
  • Collaborative natural resource management
  • Political ecology of conservation and restoration
  • Sustainability and environmental justice
  • Indigenism, indigeneity and (post)colonialism
  • Environmental politics of Treaty settlement

My main research focus is the participation of indigenous peoples in conservation management and environmental planning. This research focuses on the obstacles to establishing partnership approaches, and the appropriateness of comanagement, collaborative science and community-based management for resolving conservation conflicts. Environmental justice, postcolonial governance and the political ecology of resource conflicts are integrating themes for all of my research projects.

I have been involved in several research projects which were commissioned to support the environmental claims of iwi (Maori tribes) before the Waitangi Tribunal. Those projects focus on the capacity of indigenous peoples to influence landscape change and halt environmental degradation through the planning process. They also emphasise the impacts of conservation on the communities which surround national parks, and the search for policies which attempt coexistence between conservation, development and Treaty rights.

I am also interested in long-standing dilemmas in environmental management, particularly our capacity to impinge upon private property rights to maintain environmental values. Conflicts about and approaches to promoting indigenous habitat protection and water quality control on private land are long-term research emphases. Strategies to motivate the public to participate in environmental projects are another key concern, especially through environmental education or care group approaches to environmental enhancement. I have onging commitments to community-based restoration projects throughout New Zealand.

Teaching | Current

  • GEOG.320 (Resources and Environmental Management)
  • ENVMGT.746 (Collaborative Environmental Management)

Postgraduate supervision

Current thesis students

  • Chad Croft: Ecological off-setting - the dilemmas of conservation subdivision
  • Andrea Edwards: Diversifying environmental justice: indigenous relations with energy companies
  • Petra Meijer: Public ecology in ecological restoration: How is community-based monitoring linking science, beliefs and values?
  • Hyrine Munga: Gender, climate change and rural development - biogas as an alternative energy strategy for Kenya
  • Josefina Ocampo: Forest Protection and Rehabilitation through the implementation of Executive Order (EO) No. 26, the National Greening Program in the Philippines
  • Kimiora Raerino: Maara kai - indigenous community food gardens and urban indigeneity in Tamaki-Makaurau
  • Raizha Yurivilca Delgado. Political ecologies of multi-scalar comanagement in Peru
  • Megan Selby: A political ecology of Javan gibbon conservation in Indonesia
  • Jamie Steer: Deconstructing introduced wildlife and the future of biodiversity in New Zealand
  • Enni Suonio: Interaction between business models and environmental strategies for new media technologies and services
  • Lara Taylor. Sovereignty and the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Catcment Management Group

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Chair and Board Member, Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledges and Rights Commission of the International Geographical Union
  • Co-director, Te Whare Kura - a Thematic Research Initiative of the University of Auckland to promote research into Indigenous Peoples, Knowledges and Identities
  • Theme leader, Political Ecologies and Environmental Justice - a research theme in the School of Environment

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Coombes, B. L. (2013). Maori and environmental justice: the case of 'Lake' Otara. In E. Peters, C. Anderson (Eds.) Indigenous in the City: Contemporary Identities and Cultural Innovation (pp. 334-353). Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Coombes, B., Johnson, J. T., & Howitt, R. (2013). Indigenous geographies II: The aspirational spaces in postcolonial politics - reconciliation, belonging and social provision. Progress in Human Geography, 37 (5), 691-700. 10.1177/0309132512469590
  • Coombes, B. L. (2013). Indigenism, public intellectual and the forever opposed, or the makings of a ‘hori academic’. In D. M. Mertens, B. Chilisa, F. Cram (Eds.) Indigenous Pathways into Social Research: voices of a new generation (pp. 71-88). Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek, CA.
  • Coombes, B. L. (2012). Collaboration: Inter-subjectivity or radical pedagogy?. Canadian Geographer, 56 (2), 290-291. 10.1111/j.1541-0064.2012.00429.x
  • Coombes, B. L., Johnson, J. T., & Howitt, R (2011). Indigenous geographies I: Mere resource conflicts? The complexities in Indigenous land and environmental claims. Progress in Human Geography, Online, 1-13. 10.1177/0309132511431410
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/14788
  • Coombes, B. L. (2011). Te hoko hoiho [‘horse trading’]: joint negotiation of no take marine reserves and Maori- managed MPAs in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Paper presented at 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress, Victoria, Canada. 14 May - 18 May 2011.
  • Smith, C., & Coombes, B. L. (2011). Washing their hands of it? Auckland City’s risk management of formerly horticultural land as neoliberal responsibilisation. In T. Tasan-Kok, G. Baeten (Eds.) Contradictions of neoliberal planning: cities, policies, and politics (pp. 133-150). Antwerp: Springer. 10.1007/978-90-481-8924-3_8
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/22500
  • Coombes, B. L., Gombay, N., Johnson, J. T., & Shaw, W. S. (2011). The Challenges of and from Indigenous Geographies. In V. J. Del Casino, M. Thomas, P. Cloke, R. Panelli (Eds.) A Companion to Social Geography (pp. 472-489). Oxford: Blackwell. 10.1002/9781444395211.ch27
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/14823

Contact details

Primary location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
23 SYMONDS ST
AUCKLAND 1010
New Zealand