Dr Karen Fisher

BA/MSocSc (Waikato), PhD (ANU)

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Associate Professor

Research | Current

I am a Human Geographer interested in society-environment interactions.  My research programme is organised under the general theme: environmental governance and politics of resource use.  My research interests fall broadly under the following areas:

  • Māori co-governance and indigenous knowledge
  • Environmental governance and development
  • Political economy and political ecology
  • Science, knowledge and policy

I have conducted research in the Philippines focused on the sociopolitical dimensions of water governance and development with a particular interest in the role of local government in mediating the needs of local communities with national objectives.  Since 2012, I have been involved in collaborative transdisciplinary research projects that focus on knowledge production for sustainability in the context of marine environments and urban water. I also conduct research using feminist and critical theories to explore knowledge production and methodologies. I am also part of the Auckland-based Puāwai Writing Collective, which performs feminist research focused on slow scholarship, care, and the neoliberal university.

Teaching | Current

My teaching reflects my interest in environmental management and governance more broadly and draws on cases from a range of different contexts within the Asia-Pacific Region, including New Zealand and Australia.

At undergraduate level I teach on GEOG324 Critical Perspectives on Sustainable Development and GEOG205(S2C) Environment and Society. 

At postgraduate level I coordinate ENVMGT744 Resource Management.

Postgraduate supervision

Completed PhD students

  • Andrew Allison (2020) - Developing a methodology for transdisciplinary modelling of complex human-environment systems (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Mark Dickson, Co-supervisor Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Leane Makey (2020) - Thinking with Kaipara : A critical analysis of knowledge production in an ecosystem-based management settler colonial context (Primary supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)
  • Claudia Gonelli (2020) - Local governments, communities and wind farm proposals : insiders’ perspectives on Italy and New Zealand  (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Hong-Key Yoon)
  • Brendon Blue (2018) - Searching for the ideal river? New directions in geographical geomorphology (Co-supervisor; Primary Supervisor Prof. Gary Brierley)
  • Barbara Hock (2018) - The role of visualisations in eliciting attitudes in sustainable forestry, and the attitudes elicited (Primary supervisor; Co-supervisor Dr Tim Payn, SCION)
  • Stephen FitzHerbert (2016) - Geographies of economy-making: the articulation of Taewa Maori across Aotearoa New Zealand (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Nick Lewis)
  • Bizhan Rahnama (2016) - Negotiating Co-governance of the Waikato River: Political projects at work (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Nick Lewis)
  • Kathryn Davies (2015) - Many voices of the Manukau: participatory modelling, ecosystem services and decision making in New Zealand (Primay supervisor; Co-supervisors A. Prof. Mark Dickson Prof. Richard Le Heron, Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Roger Baars (2015) - The Good Citizen: Citizenship Education and Youth in Singapore (Primary supervisor; Co-Supervisor Dr David Hayward)
  • Claire Gregory (2013) - Enabling sustainable river futures: exploring institutional interventions (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Prof. Gary Brierley, Co-supervisor Prof. Richard Le Heron)

Current PhD students

  • Danielle Johnson - Exploring indigenous health, wellbeing and climate change adaptation in the Kaipara Catchment of Aotearoa New Zealand (Primay supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)
  • Victoria Jollands - Fisheries governance and food security (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Gabby O'Connor - Engaging Communities in Issues of Environmental Complexity through the Art-Science Nexus: The Unseen – an art, science and community project (Co-supervisor; Primary Supervisor A. Prof Alys Longley; Co-supervisor A. Prof Carolyn Lundquist)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Geographical Society

  • Fellow
  • Chair of the Auckland Branch
  • Membership Officer, National Executive

eSocSci Network Convenor: Women and Gender Geographies Research Network, 2013-2018

Royal Society of New Zealand, Professional Member

Institute of Australia Geographers, Member

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.
  • Pinhate, T. B., Parsons, M., Fisher, K., Crease, R. P., & Baars, R. (2020). A crack in the automobility regime? Exploring the transition of São Paulo to sustainable urban mobility. Cities, 107.10.1016/j.cities.2020.102914
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Paterson-Shallard, H., Fisher, K. T., Parsons, M., & Makey, L. (2020). Holistic approaches to river restoration in Aotearoa New Zealand. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY, 106, 250-259. 10.1016/j.envsci.2019.12.013
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Davies, K. K., Fisher, K. T., Couzens, G., Allison, A., van Putten, E. I., Dambacher, J. M., ... Lundquist, C. J. (2020). Trans-Tasman Cumulative Effects Management: A Comparative Study. Frontiers in Marine Science, 710.3389/fmars.2020.00025
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist
  • Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2020). Decolonising Settler Hazardscapes of the Waipā: Māori and Pākehā Remembering of Flooding in the Waikato 1900–1950. In S. McKinnon, M. Cook (Eds.) Disasters in Australia and New Zealand: Historical Approaches to Understanding Catastrophe (pp. 159-177). London: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1007/978-981-15-4382-1
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2020). Indigenous peoples and transformations in freshwater governance and management. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability10.1016/j.cosust.2020.03.006
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Parsons, M., Nalau, J., Fisher, K., & Brown, C. (2019). Disrupting path dependency: Making room for Indigenous knowledge in river management. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 56, 95-113. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.03.008
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Davies, K., Collective, P., Fisher, K., Le Heron, E., Sharp, E., & Spiers, R. (2019). Assembling disruptive practice in the neoliberal university: an ethics of care. GEOGRAFISKA ANNALER SERIES B-HUMAN GEOGRAPHY, 101 (1), 33-43. 10.1080/04353684.2019.1568201
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emma Sharp
  • Driver, E., Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2018). Technically political: The post-politics(?) of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. GEOFORUM, 97, 253-267. 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.09.023
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 5, Room 509
New Zealand

Web links