Te Puna Vai Marama, the Cook Islands Centre for Research is a joint venture arrangement between University of the South Pacific (USP), Cook Islands and the Cook Islands government to become a focal point and resource for post-graduate research training, for research and the provision of information and policy advice to the Cook Islands government. The proposal was endorsed by the USP Cook Islands Advisory Committee at its meeting in 2017, and approved by the University Senate and the Cook Islands Government in 2018. 
The goal of Te Puna Vai Marama is to become the prime research facility in the Cook Islands with responsibility for training post graduate researchers, undertaking and facilitating research and policy studies, communicating research findings to policy makers and the public through consultancy, policy papers, exhibitions and displays, seminars and public lectures, library and archive services, publications and new media. 
It will additionally provide facilities and support for community based and visiting overseas researchers. It will develop and pursue a research agenda based on priority national research and policy needs and communicate information and analysis based on high quality research outcomes.

our mission

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:

Cook Islands Government crest
University of the South Pacific logo
  • Training graduate and postgraduate researchers in all fields for Masters and Doctorate study
  • Teaching research methods through a Pacific, and in particular a Cook Islands, perspective
  • Conducting funded research
  • Facilitating research for government departments and non-government organizations
  • Hosting the Ron Crocombe and Don Marshall Archives
  • Holding seminars, workshops and conferences
  • Hosting visiting scholars and PhD students from around the world
  • Publishing articles, books and reports
  • Ensuring that research findings are widely distributed

OUR TEAM

HEATHER WORTH

Director
EDUCATION

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 totalling over $15 million and has over 180 publications, including eight books.

MEGAN FIDLER

Academic Research Trainer (VSA – Volunteer Service Abroad)
MA HONS; GRAD DIP TCH; POSTGRAD DIP (SPECIALIST TEACHING)

Megan is working with the Centre on a VSA assignment from September 2022 – 23 mentoring local researchers.  Megan has been involved with research and teaching for many years and currently works at the Ministry of Education in New Zealand as a Manager. Megan sees her role within Te Puna Vai Marama as providing guidance around social and evaluation and social research methods and approaches.

JOHN HAY


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 TUARI'I

Research Fellow
BA (JAPANESE), MSC (ASIA PACIFIC STUDIES)

Merita is of Cook Islands Māori and New Zealand Māori heritage, currently working as Research Fellow at TPVM. She is a recent returnee Cook Islander after spending some time in New Zealand during the pandemic after completing her Master of Science, graduating from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu in 2020. 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.

RIMA MOEKA'A

Researcher
BA (SOCIAL SCIENCE)

Rima is working with Te Puna Vai Marama from October 2022 to December 2023 as a researcher. She has worked in public service and recently moved into independent consultancy providing technical assistance in the areas of climate change, environment and policy. Rima hopes to improve her research methodology and processes and enhance her writing skills through
Te Puna Vai Marama.

JACQUI EVANS

Research Fellow
BSc (BIOLOGY), MA (GEOGRAPHY)

Jacqui is researching ocean management, marine sciences and sustainability policy. She also has an interest in governance, media and communications. She has experience in fisheries, coral reef conservation, traditional marine managed areas (raúi), large-scale marine protected areas, marine species protection and policy development.

FRANCES LITTLE

Res
BEd, GRAD DIP Ed MANAGEMENT

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 Marama to setup an International Programme for USP Cook Islands.

HILLARY GORMAN

Res
BEd, GRAD DIP Ed MANAGEMENT

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 Marama to setup an International Programme for USP Cook Islands.