Our People

Research Team

Dr Annie Weir
Director

Dr Weir is passionate about producing credible research and evaluation that informs organisational policies and practices in the education, health and social service sectors. She is particularly interested in how agencies and organisations interpret and implement government policies. Her research and evaluation involves investigations into marginalised and vulnerable groups in New Zealand for example, early childhood intervention programmes, youth, justice, refugees, and older adults including those living with dementia. Her work includes developing organisational capacity in the social services sector to conduct and/or utilise evidence from research and evaluation to inform decision making and practice. A focus of her current work also includes helping organisations to implement client-outcomes focused evaluation including Results Based Accountability (RBA).

Dr Weir holds a PhD in Education from Victoria University of Wellington. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow with the School of Critical Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland. She has held senior education and quality management roles in tertiary education and the non government sector. She has been involved in research and evaluation in higher education, healthcare management and social services for many years in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Her recent experience includes working with Maori and Pasifika on numerous projects. In November 2011 she returned from Scotland where she had held the post of Research Fellow, Centre for Educational Sociology, and was Healthcare Management Research Fellow with the Business School, University of Edinburgh. Annie collaborated on a number of projects related to the interface between health and higher education. Annie has also worked on a large European project focused on knowledge in relation to education and health policy.

Her research interests include social service provision, quality assurance and programme evaluation, the interface between higher education and health systems, international comparative studies in higher education, critique of qualification frameworks, and knowledge exchange in higher education. She has authored numerous research and evaluation reports, and articles, and has presented at international conferences in Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. She is a member of the Australasian Evaluation Society (AES), and the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA).

Click here to read the list of publications Annie has written.

Professional Committees/Groups:
• 2013/14 Australasian Evaluation Society
• 2013/14 Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Society
• 2013/14 Women's Studies Association Organising Committee
• 2012/14 New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services Researcher Network
• 2012/2014 ANGOA Association of Non Government Organisations Researcher Forum
• 2007-2012 Society of Research into Higher Education
• 2009-2011 Scottish Policy Innovation Forum
• 2009-2012 Britsih Sociological Association

Dr Jane Holmes
Researcher

Dr Holmes completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Auckland. She has worked in both the tertiary education and community-based sectors. Her research interests are predominantly in the broad area of aging including such factors as perceived control, social representations, cognitive appraisal and the psychosocial influences of ageism, health beliefs and decision making for treatment options and the social and psychological impact of neurogenerative diseases.

Click here to view Jane's C.V.

Meet The Research Associates
Dr Jane Furness
Research Associate
Dr Jane Furness has been involved in the field of adult education for over twenty years. She is a community psychologist who is passionate about education and community enhancement. Her engagement with adult literacy and a concern for family and community wellbeing led to her doctoral study which she recently completed. Her masters’ research was an evaluation of a men’s non-violence programme from the perspective of their partners. Dr Furness has conducted, managed or been an advisor to a range of development and research projects, including adult literacy projects undertaken or contracted by Skill New Zealand, the Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Education between 2000 and 2005. She has taught at the University of Waikato in the post-graduate community psychology programme, of which she is an associate. Most recently she has taught in the Faculty of Education in family and community literacy and in working with cultural and linguistic diversity. She has given many presentations on family literacy education and its links to wellbeing for individuals, families and communities.

Click here to read Jane's CV.

Dr Joce Jesson
Research Associate

Dr Jesson is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Auckland until the end of 2012. She was previously a Principal Lecturer of Education Politics at the University of Auckland from 2007 until 2011. The base of Dr Jesson’s research work is critical educational political sociology. This involves education politics with a particular focus on adult learning, life long learning, continuing professional and vocational education, professions, policy studies, educators? work, labour studies, radical education, unions and education, and the social development of Maori and Pacific communities. Dr Jesson has been involved policy analysis and implementation, evaluative studies, historiography and programme evaluation. She has co-authored five books and written numerous chapters in books, journal articles and conference presentations.


Dr Margaret McLean
Research Associate
Dr McLean is a part time Senior Lecturer who conducts research and teaches in Disability Studies based in the School of Critical Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland. She begun her career as a primary school teacher where she became aware of the diverse learning needs of a range of children in poor urban schools. Moving later into ‘special education’ she worked with infants, children and young people with intellectual, emotional and physical impairments their families and teachers. It became increasingly apparent to her that social isolation and rejection was a more intractable problem than difficulties with learning. A developing awareness of some of the difficulties in practice led her to investigate in the first place, the distance, in spite of the rhetoric of partnership, between schools for disabled children and the parents and families of those children. The second issue was the gap between in-service education for special educators and the application of learning in schools. The third was the effect on interactions with disabled people of staff views about impairment and disability. The fourth was the recognition that the ableist beliefs of the community were neither examined nor regarded as significant in the research literature.

Click here to read Margaret's CV.

Dr Eric Messick
Research Associate
Dr Eric Messick has been working in the areas of psychology, behaviour, and education for over 17 years. He is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA-D) and a Registered Psychologist. He has worked as a lecturer, teaching fellow, clinical leader, supervisor, senior psychologist, consultant, programme director and in other roles. Dr Messick specialises in behaviour analysis and is currently in private practice where he provides professional supervision, training, and consultation. He has delivered many presentations at local and international conferences and has a broad range of experience from working with a variety of people with various struggles in New Zealand and overseas. He is experienced and interested in autism, challenging behaviour, conduct disorder, antisocial behaviour, mental health, evidence-based practice, single-case design, education, professional training/supervision, implementation, service development and evaluation, and more.

Click here to read Eric's CV.

Associate Professor Mike O' Brien
Research Associate

Dr O’ Brien is an Associate Professor at the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland and has previously been the co-ordinator of the Social Work and Social Policy programme and the Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies at Massey University, Albany. He has a particular interest in issues of welfare reform, social security, child poverty and social services delivery. Mike O'Brien has written and researched extensively on social service, poverty and social security issues, and is the joint author of Social Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

He co-edited Left Further Behind (2011) and contributed chapters to that key child poverty publication. He also contributed to CPAG's earlier report Left Behind: How social and income inequalities damage NZ children (2008) along with the first two editions of CPAG's Our Children: The Priority for Policy. He has written Workfare: Not fair for kids? and The Impact of Debt on Low Income People, together with an examination of social security reform in New Zealand over the last two decades, Poverty, Policy and the State (published by The Policy Press UK, 2008). His other books are New Welfare New Zealand (published 2007 by Cengage Publishing in Melbourne), a more detailed look at recent changes in welfare policy. Social Welfare, social exclusion - a life course frame (published 2007 by Varpinge Ord & Text, Sweden) is a collection of essays he has contributed to and co-edited with Swedish academic Lars Harrysson, and includes writings by 11 international authors on how people can become excluded from basic opportunities, rights and services in society.

Dr O Brien is the Co-convenor of Child Poverty Action Group and chaired the Alternative Welfare Working Group in 2011. The group produced two reports on welfare reform setting out directions for welfare reform which provide an alternative direction to that proposed by the government appointed Welfare Working Group. He is a Board member at Te Waipuna Puawai and at the Auckland City Mission and is a member of the Impacts of Poverty and Exclusion policy group for the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services.

Click here to read Dr O' Brein's CV.

Dr Mo'ale 'Otunuku
Research Associate

Dr. Mo’ale ‘Otunuku has been a secondary school teacher in Tonga and in New Zealand. Puzzled and keen to know more about the predicament of Maori and Pasifika academic achievement, he enrolled at the Doctor of Education program at the University of Auckland. His doctoral study explored participants’ conceptions of teaching, learning and assessment. He conducted a correlational analysis of student conceptions of assessment using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), and their academic achievement (NCEA results) believed to be the first such study in New Zealand, as part of the doctoral thesis. With these skills he was able to develop new insights into Maori/Pasifika/Tongan experiences of education by triangulating between the very different methods. These studies have led to new insights that, if adopted by governments and school leaders, may result in much better academic performance for children in New Zealand.
After graduating, he took up a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Education (IOE) of the University of the South Pacific (USP). His research interests include: assessment, Pacific student achievement, teacher education, indigenous knowledge and indigenous research methodologies. He has worked in the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Palau, Fiji and Tonga. Since the completion of his tenure at the Institute of Education, he remains an Associate Researcher and continue to do works for the Institute in the region. He has been involved with the Vaka Pasifiki Education Conference (VPEC) since it started in 2011. He is currently leading the Program Committee responsible for organizing and running the 2016 Vaka Pasifiki Education Conference to be held in early July in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Click here to read Dr Otunuku's CV.

Dr John Benseman
Research Associate

Dr John Benseman has a strong interest in using research and evaluation findings to inform the development of effective programmes for adults. John has worked as an adult educator and researcher/evaluator for 40 years with a diverse range of groups in the educational, health, planning, social service, planning and employment sectors. These groups have included formal educational institutions, government departments, community groups, professional organisations, large and small companies, formal and non-formal educational institutions, social service organisations, iwi, local and regional bodies, local government departments, trades union, disabled groups and organisations for the unemployed. He has also worked as an advisor and researcher with national government agencies and with international bodies such as OECD and UNESCO and other international research projects.
John has worked for more than 20 years in various teaching and research roles at The University of Auckland as well as five other tertiary institutions throughout Aotearoa. He has also run an independent research partnership with Alison Sutton for 27 years carrying out a diverse range of research contracts. His work has included a corresponding diversity of educational development work and research studies including teaching adults, policy development, community development, literacy, language and numeracy programmes for adults, distance education, continuing professional development, programme evaluations, organisational reviews, needs analyses, feasibility studies, ethnographic studies, management of large research studies and programme administration.

Click here to read Dr Benseman's CV.

Our People
At Impact Research NZ we believe that our people are our most valuable assets. With researchers and Research Associates who are leaders in their fields, our combined experience and expertise encompasses a broad range of social sector interests.
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Our Research and Evaluation
Research and evaluation are now seen as essential elements in the provision of the social services, and provide the means of measuring outcomes for clients, and informing service improvement.

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Contact Us
Impact Research NZ
PO Box 9591 Newmarket
Auckland 1149
Phone: 09 5208696
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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