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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
Lauren is working at Te Puna Vai Marama as a research assistant on a volunteer assignment for VSA. Her academic research has spanned the areas of sport & cultural studies, political ecology, and social development. Prior to coming to the Cook Islands, she completed an evaluation internship in the NGO sector and held a research assistant position with Massey University.