The Cook Islands Centre for Research is a joint venture between the Cook Islands Government and the University of the South Pacific. We are based at the USP Campus in Avarua and we carry out the following activities:
Professor Heather Worth was appointed as Director of the Centre in 2022. She is an international expert in the social aspects of gender, sexual and reproductive health in the Pacific. She has led large teams of researchers and has been recognised for her work in building research capacity across the region. Her research has had considerable impact on policy and practice in the Pacific. She has had research grants totaling over $15 million and has over 180 publications, including eight books.
Hilary has extensive experience in research, evaluation, policy and development practice in the Pacific region. Her research focuses on social inequality relating to gender equality and social inclusion, sexual and reproductive health and social protection. She is a Canadian citizen and Permanent Resident of the Cook Islands.
Adjunct Professor John Hay has over forty years’ experience in academia, the private sector and governmental organisations. His work has focused on bringing an interdisciplinary approach to the environmental sciences as well as to technical and policy-relevant assessments and guidance, especially in relation to climate variability and change
Merita is of Cook Islands Maori and New Zealand Maori heritage, currently working as a research fellow at Te Puna Vai Marama. She has previously worked in government and non-government roles in the Cook Islands, most recently consulting on the review of the Cook Islands National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2020. At TPVM she conducted research on knowledge and use of climate and weather information and services, co-authored a paper on the Cook Islands response to COVID19, and is currently conducting research on gender and governance in the Cook Islands and public experience and use of Cook islands public services.
Frances Niuloa Little was the Director of AUT International at Auckland University of Technology and prior to that, International Marketing Manager at UNITEC. She completed a Bachelor of Education at University of Auckland, a Graduate Diploma of Education Management at UNITEC and completed the Management and Leadership in Education programme at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is working with Te Puna Vai Mārama to setup an International Programme for USP Cook Islands.
Lauren is a research assistant for Te Puna Vai Marama through New Zealand NGO Volunteer Service Abroad. Her undergraduate and graduate research has spanned the areas of sport & cultural studies, environmental sociology and the aged care sector. In this role, she has conducted background research for projects on the topics of cervical cancer management , gender and climate change and is currently involved with research into public experience and use of Cook Islands public services.
Sieni has joined TPVM as a research officer. She has extensive experience in the private and public sector of the Cook Islands. Her tourism background has strengthened her work in tourism destination development, management and advocacy. Sieni has also been involved in tourism research with Cook Islands Tourism and other Universities that has contributed toward the development of a sustainable tourism policy framework including evidence based programmes. Sieni is of Maori Cook Islands descent and understands the value of meaningful engagement with key stakeholders especially the community.
Selane has graduated from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and has joined TPVM as a Research Assistant. She has a background experience working in the Statistics field, particularly in the survey development, survey management and data collection areas. Selane is currently doing a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology with Massey University, hoping to achieve a Masters qualification. She aspires to work in the Mental Health field in the Cook Islands and is passionate about research that centers Cook Islanders. In her spare time, she volunteers for Korero o te Orau as a Program Lead and with Nui Rarotonga, assisting with their antenatal classes.
Headshots: Charlize Tuara www.charlizetuaraphotography.com