Professor Melinda Jean Webber

PhD, MEd (1st Class Hons), PGDipEd, BEd, DipTch(Primary)


He pepeha

Ki te taha o toku matua ko Ngāti Whakaue toku iwi.
Ki te taha o toku whaea ko Ngāpuhi, ko Ngāti Kahu, ko Ngāti Hau ōku iwi

Professor Melinda Webber is a former Fulbright/Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Scholar who has published widely on the nature of Māori identity. Melinda's research examines the ways race, ethnicity, culture and identity impact the lives of young people, particularly Māori students. In 2016, Melinda was awarded a prestigious Marsden Fast-Start grant to undertake a research project examining the distinctive identity traits of Ngāpuhi, New Zealand’s largest iwi, and in 2017 Melinda was awarded an esteemed Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to tackle an important question facing educators – ‘How can we foster cultural pride and academic aspiration among Māori students?’

Professor Melinda Webber is currently Te Tumu, Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. She was the 2017 Director for Phase Three of The Starpath Project and is currently the University of Auckland Co-Director for the Atlantic Fellowship for Social Equity programme and Associate Director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre. She also spent six years as a co-principal Investigator on the Nga Pae o te Maramatanga funded project 'Ka Awatea' which examined the nature of teaching, learning and home socialisation patterns that support high-achieving Māori students in New Zealand.

Research | Current

  • Adolescent social psychology
  • Racial ethnic identity construction
  • Māori Gifted Learners / Māori student success
  • Qualitative research methodologies
  • Māori research approaches

Current Research Projects:

  • Kia tu rangatira ai nga iwi Maori: Living, succeeding, and thriving as iwi Māori
  • A fire in the belly of Hineāmaru - Whakapapa narratives for learning and engagement
  • Mana Ūkaipō: Enhancing Māori engagement through pedagogies of connection and belonging
  • Maori Achievement Collaboratives


Teaching | Current

  • Maori student success
  • Maori research: Methods, approaches & ethics
  • Educational & Social-Psychology – Identity development
  • Gifted Education

Postgraduate supervision

Current Research Students

  • Pauline Adams - PhD: What counts as identity capital? Examining factors that facilitate identity in Māori-Pākehā individuals across multiple group contexts
  • Sandra Yellowhorse - PhD: K’é as Pedagogy: Transforming Indigenous Special Education
  • Siaosi Vaili - PhD: Relations between Samoan students' self-efficacy, future aspirations, teacher expectations, parent expectations, and academic achievement in senior secondary school
  • Martha Aseta - PhD: Tracking the Impact and Outcomes of Bilingual Education beyond the Bilingual Unit
  • Tracey Harris - PhD: Maori learners at their cutting edge:  A description of their opening pathways.
  • Tania Whatarangi-Bell - PhD: Ko te Pū o te Manawa: A Māori-centred Model of Therapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse
  • Margi Grey - The positive identity development of NZ-born Pacific people who identify with having a mixed ethnic identity in New Zealand
  • Rāhera Meinders - Te ira tangata
  • Roasanna Baker - Auaha principle: Teaching 'cog-native-ly'
  • Sharron Fabish - Thriving Māori communities in Ngāti Kahungunu that contribute to whānau hauora:  Māori Voices
  • Waratah Toagaga - Mātauranga-ā-Whātua
  • Thomaseena Paul - A True Literacy Waitangi Partnership in Practice: A reading programme for all Aotearoa/ New Zealand tamariki to learn te reo Māori and English concurrently
  • Karen Finn - Critical multiculturalism in secondary school social sciences

Completed Dissertations and Theses

  • Chelsea Wills – BEd Honours - 2009: Teachers’ and students’ perceptions of writing ability
  • Karen Liley – BEd Honours - 2009: Practitioner voices: new early childhood graduates’ perceptions of their preparedness to teach a bicultural curriculum
  • Tessa Tupai – MEd - 2009: Experiences of first-generation university students: A New Zealand context
  • Lisa Watson – MEd - 2011: Factors supporting Maori student success in two Northland high-schools
  • Kiri Kirkpatrick – BEd(Hons) – 2011: Teachers’ use of information and communication technology to differentiate for gifted and talented students
  • Rachel Aranui – MEd – 2011: Self-efficacy, classroom connectedness and racial-ethnic identity of tamariki Maori in bilingual classes
  • Kirsten Clark – BEd(Hons) - 2011: Great Expectations for Male Maori in Education
  • Tania Cliffe - MEd 2013: Whakapapa, education, identity and belonging: conversations with Maori students with high and complex needs
  • Hana Turner - MEd 2013: Teacher Expectations, Ethnicity and the Achievement Gap
  • Kylie Jenkinson - MProfst 2013: Academic Mentoring: High-achieving students’ perceptions of mentoring in a low-decile school.
  • Vivienne Russell – MEd 2013: Gifted Maori students in an English-Medium secondary school
  • Karen Smith - MEd 2013: The experiences of Pasifika students from low decile areas in high decile schools.
  • Ben Claxton - MProfst 2016: How do Maori students from one South Auckland secondary school perceive educational success?
  • Manaia Chou-Lee - MProfst 2016: Beneficial practices at an Auckland secondary school that prepare Year 13 students for integration into New Zealand society.
  • Tari Stowers - MEd 2016: Exploring the Motivation and Well-being of New Zealand Medical Students
  • Andrew Gipps - MEd 2016: A study of effective mentoring practice for 16 and 17 year old Pasifika Students in a New Zealand secondary school.
  • Moana Timoko - MEd 2017: Whakapapa driving positive momentum in a Northland kura kaupapa Māori.
  • Margi Grey - MEd 2017: New Zealand-born Pacific perspectives on culture, language and identity
  • Kapua O'Connor - CoP 2017: Stories of Maori student success
  • Renee Neville - MEd 2017: Teacher’s beliefs about racial-ethnic identity and the effect on their pedagogical approaches for Māori students.
  • Melanie Van Ansam - MProfst 2017: Teachers’ initial experiences of collaboration in a Community of Learning
  • Dr Catherine Mitchell – PhD 2018: The experiences of first generation doctoral students: choices and challenges
  • Dr Hana Turner - PhD 2018: Differential Teacher Treatment, Expectations and Student Success at Secondary School
  • Dr Lisa Watson - EdD 2020: Contributing Factors for Māori Student Success in English Medium Secondary Schools in Tai Tokerau.
  • Dr Barb O'Loughlin - PhD 2020: What might high-quality learning for tamariki Māori in early childhood education look like?
  • Dr Tania Cliffe - PhD 2021: Kua takoto te mānuka: Cultural identity as a resilience factor to reduce Māori youth offending​
  • Rahera Meinders - MEd 2021: Ngā Ihopumanawa: how Māori students’ role models relate to their post-secondary school aspirations.
  • Kendra Cox - MSW 2021: “Wretchedness in every form”: The role of early child protection in settler-colonial capitalism in Aotearoa
  • Dr Yvonne Ualesi - PhD 2021: Youth Mentoring in Aotearoa: Towards a Culturally Responsive Framework




2013 Fulbright / Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Scholar

2013 Visiting Scholar - University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

2016 Marsden Fast-start Grant Awardee

2018 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

2020 Teaching & Learning Research Initiative Grant Awardee



Chair - Ngā Pae o Te Maramatanga Research Committee

Co-Director: Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (University of Auckland Hub)

Associate Director: Woolf Fisher Research Centre

Co-Editor: MAI Journal: A New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship

Editorial Board member: Contemporary Educational Psychology

Editorial Board member: The Australian Journal of Gifted Education

Editorial Board member: The Ethnographic Edge

Editorial Board member: Genealogy

Areas of expertise

Racial-ethnic identity development

Maori conceptions of giftedness

Maori student success

School Improvement for Māori learners

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • 2022-2023: Appointed as Future Director: SCION Crown Research Institute
  • 2021-2023: Appointed to the Performance Based Research Fund – Sectorial Reference Group
  • 2021-2025: Elected Board Member, New Zealand Council for Educational Research
  • 2020-2023: Board member, Te Rautiaki Mātauranga, Academic Board, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
  • 2020-2023: Board member, Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies, University of Auckland
  • 2018-2023: Advisory Board Member, Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity, University of Melbourne
  • 2016–2023: Member, Faculty of Education and Social Work Staffing Committee
  • 2018-2020: Elected Councillor, Te Apārangi, Royal Society of New Zealand
  • 2016-2018: Trustee, The First Foundation Charitable Trust
  • 2018-2020: Maori Advisory Panel Member, Te Tai Tokerau Department of Corrections
  • 2017-2018: Member, Te Runanga-a-iwi-o-Ngāpuhi Iwi Education Strategy Development group.
  • 2017-2018: Internal Advisory Committee Member, The University of Auckland Public Policy Institute
  • 2017-2018: Te Kauhuahua Advisory Group Member, Te Āparangi Royal Society of New Zealand
  • 2018-2019: Academic Advisory Group Member, Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology, Rotorua
  • 2018 Academic Staff representative, Faculty of Education and Social Work Research Committee

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.
  • Fitzpatrick, K., Leahy, D., Webber, M., Gilbert, J., Lupton, D., & Aggleton, P. (2019). Critical health education studies: Reflections on a new conference and this themed symposium. HEALTH EDUCATION JOURNAL, 78 (6), 621-632. 10.1177/0017896919860882
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Katie Fitzpatrick
  • Webber, M. (2019). Writing narratives of hope: An act of aroha. Innovations in Narrative and Metaphor: Methodologies and Practices (pp. 119-132). 10.1007/978-981-13-6114-2_8
  • Webber, M. (2019). The Development of Mana: Five Optimal Conditions for Gifted Māori Student Success. In S. R. Smith (Ed.) Handbook of Giftedness and Talent Development in the Asia-Pacific (pp. ). Singapore: Springer. 10.1007/978-981-13-3021-6_31-1
  • Allen, J. M., & Webber, M. (2019). Stereotypes of Minorities and Education. In S. Ratuva (Ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity (pp. 1407-1426). Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1007/978-981-13-0242-8_107-1
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jean Allen
  • Smith, G. H., & Webber, M. (2019). Transforming research and indigenous education struggle. In E. A. McKinley, L. T. Smith (Eds.) Handbook of indigenous education. Singapore: Springer Singapore. Related URL.
  • McKinley, E., & Webber, M. (2019). Whāia te ara whetu: Navigating change in mainstream secondary schooling for indigenous students. In E. A. McKinley, L. T. Smith (Eds.) Handbook of indigenous education (pp. ). Singapore: Springer Singapore. Related URL.
  • Macfarlane, A., Macfarlane, S., Derby, M., & Webber, M. (2018). Bridges to success for Māori: An aspirational lens. Psychology Aotearoa, 10 (1), 11-15. Related URL.
  • Webber, M. (2018). Unapologetically Te Arawa: In pursuit of a tribally-specific research approach. In R. E. Rhinehart, J. Kidd, A. G. Quiroga (Eds.) Southern hemisphere ethnographies of space, place, and time (pp. 265-282). Oxford, UK: Peter Lang. Related URL.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 106
New Zealand

Web links