Dr Meg Parsons

PhD (Sydney) 2009, BSocSc with First Class Honours (Waikato) 2005

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Senior Lecturer


From my early days as a student I have always been interested in the relationships between people and places, and how these relationships shift, change, are maintained and contested over time. My research is interdisciplinary in scope and nature, and crosses the boundries between human geography, historical studies, and Indigenous studies. This interdisciplinary and hybridity emerged from my own experiences as someone of mixed heritage (Māori/Pākehā//Other) who grew up in small-town Aotearoa New Zealand, and noticed the ways in which different individuals and communities relationships with each other and their local environments were tied to their identities, values, histories, and different knowledge systems; all of which was bound up in their memories of and experiences of colonialism, social-environmental crises, and perceptions of what constituted healthy people and environments. My research is focused on examining how different values and belief systems are translated into environmental policies and actions, the ways in which specific historical narratives, memoriess, and discourses influence both the construction and practices of scientific knowledge, and how colonialism influences contemporary Indigenous societies' responses to climate change and other environmental changes. Key areas of research include:

  • Historical geographies of colonialism and environmental change
  • Indigenous peoples' perceptions and responses to social and environmental changes
  • Socio-cultural dimensions of climate mitigation 
  • Climate change adaptation and justice (social, climate, gender) 
  • Decolonising methodologies and co-production of knowledge 
  • Interaction of different knowledge systems (western scientific, Indigenous and local knowledges)
  • Indigenous histories and conceptualisatons of health and wellbeing 

Research | Current

  • Indigenous Transformations to Sustainability
  • Historical experiences of environmental change in Oceania
  • Rethinking freshwater management in the Waipa River 

Teaching | Current

ENVMGT 742 (S1): Social Dimensions of Global Environmental Change

GEOG 315 (S2): Research Methods and Practices in Human Geography

GEOG 205 (S2): Environment and Society

GEOG 352 (S2): Landscape, Environment and Heritage 

Postgraduate supervision

Honours Dissertations (Completed):

Brianna Milner, (2017) "Exploring how lived values are actualised through policy and management of the Rangitaiki River"

Charlotte Grimshaw, (2017) "Exploring the US Federal Government's attitudes towards climate change in the Trump era"

Heather Paterson-Shallard, (2017) "Repriortising River Restoration Works in the Waikato and Waipa Rivers"

Roa Crease (2015), "How Vulnerability Discourses Influence the Process of Climate Change Adaptation, in Vanuatu" 

Elizabeth Driver (2014), "Rolling-out the blue green carpet?: neoliberalisation and environmental governance in NZ"

Jessica Kennair (2013), "What is social media’s role in communicating knowledge in the event of a disaster?"

Daylyn D'Mello (2013), "Environmental Soil Policy in New Zealand: Discourses, Science, and Politics"

Riki Taylor (2013), "The Origins of River Management in New Zealand: Environmental Attitudes at Uawa"


Masters Theses (Completed):

Aimee Brown (2019), "Sustainability discourses and practices within the Queenstown Tourism Industry"

Kelly Bingham (2019), "Bringing climate change conversations to the table: attitudes towards reducing meat consumption"

Misha Parkinson (2019), "Changing social contracts for climate risks: a case study of climate change adaptation planning in the Bay of Plenty" 

Allan Rarai (2018), "The use of Indigenous Knowledge for climate change adaptation in Penecost Island, Vanuatu"

Emma O'Neill, (2016) "The Politics and Processes of Memory: The New Zealand War Memorial"

Prudence Raine (2016), "Community perceptions of vulnerability to coastal hazards in Waihi Beach"

Cilla Brown (2015), "Climate change adaptation strategies amongst Samoan tourism operators"

Sally Jerome (2015), "Cultural constraints to climate change adaptation in Manus island, Papua New Guinea"


Honours Canidates (Ongoing):


Masters Candidates (Ongoing):

Ashley Bartlett, "Exploring the role of corporate responsibility within Pacific climate change adaptation intiatives".

Jodie Hayes, "How do different cultural groups in Aotearoa New Zealand perceive efforts to reduce meat consumption as a climate mitigation strategy?

Saiyami Mehta, "The different roles of Indigneous Knowledge within global disaster risk reduction policy-making"

Melanie Mayall-Nahi, "Emerging Māori sustainable enterprises for restoring rivers: iwi and hapū-led river restoration projects in the Waipa River"

PhD Candidates (Ongoing):

Anthony Gampell, "Stop Disasters 2.0: Exploring Video Games as a Tool to Foster Participation in Learning about Disaster"

Leane Makay, "Thinking with the Kaipara" decolonsing narratives of ecosystem management in Kaipara Harbour"

Danielle Johnson, "Exploring indigenous health, wellbeing and climate change adaptation in the Kaipara Catchment of Aotearoa New Zealand"

Andrea Edwards, "An environmental justice reading of the relationships between Waikato Tainui and the Huntly Power Plant" 


The University of Auckland, School of Environment, Early Career Research Award, 2015

International Social Sciences Council, Transformations to Sustainability, Seed Funding Grant, Principal Investigator, 2015

Royal Society of New Zealand, Marsden Standard Grant, Principal Investigator (co-PI Dr Karen Fisher), 2016


Course Co-ordinator  ENVMGT 742

Ethics Advisor for School of Environment 


Areas of expertise

Historical geography, social dimensions of climate change adaptation, Indigenous geographies

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Geographical Society

New Zealand Historical Association

Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society

Co-ordinator of Network of Indigenous Experiences of Environmental Change (NIECE) 

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.
  • Parsons, M., Fisher, K., & Nalau, J. (2016). Alternative approaches to co-design: Insights from indigenous/academic research collaborations. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 20, 99-105. 10.1016/j.cosust.2016.07.001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Karen Fisher
  • Parsons, M., & Nalau, J. (2016). Historical analogies as tools in understanding transformation. Global Environmental Change, 38, 82-96. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.01.010
  • Pittock, J., Marshall, N., Capon, T., Parsons, M., Robertson, A. I., & Casaril, C. (2014). A review of Australian institutions for riparian adaptation to climate change. Journal of Water and Climate Change, 5 (3), 315-327. 10.2166/wcc.2014.116
  • Parsons, M. (2014). Destabilizing narratives of the “triumph of the white man over the tropics”: scientific knowledge and the management of race in twentieth century Queensland. In J. Beattie, M. Henry, O'Gorman E (Eds.) Climate, Science and Colonization: Histories of Australia and New Zealand. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.
  • Leonard, S., & Parsons, M. (2013). Cultural dimensions of climate change adaptation: Indigenous knowledge and future adaptive management in East Kimberley, Australia. In J. Palutikof, S. L. Boulter, A. J. Ash, M. Stafford Smith, M. Parry, M. Waschka, D. Guitart (Eds.) Climate Adaptation Futures (pp. 190-200). Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/26046
  • Leonard, S., Mackenzie, J., Kofod, F., Parsons, M., Langton, M., Russ, P., ... Smith, M. (2013). Indigenous climate change adaptation in the Kimberley region of North-western Australia: Final report: Learning from the past, adapting in the future: Identifying pathways to successful adaptation in Indigenous communities. Indigenous Communities: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Gold Coast, Australia: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
  • Leonard, S., Parsons, M., Olawsky, K., & Kofod, F. (2013). The role of culture and traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation: Insights from East Kimberley, Australia. Global Environmental Change -- Human and Policy Dimensions, 23 (3), 623-632. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.02.012
  • Parsons, M. (2012). Creating a Hygienic Dorm: The Refashioning of Aboriginal Women and Children and the Politics of Racial Classification in Queensland 1920s-40s. Health and History, 14, 112-139. 10.5401/healthhist.14.2.0112

Contact details

Office hours

Wednesday 9-10am 

Other times by appointment 

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 4, Room 473
New Zealand