Our people

The Starpath team consists of a group of leading educational quantitative and qualitative researchers. The team is supported by a Board of Governance consisting of senior representatives from the University of Auckland, the Manukau Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Education.

Director – Dr Melinda Webber


PhD, MEd (1st Class Hons), PGDipEd, BEd, DipTch(Primary)

Dr Melinda Webber (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hau) was appointed Starpath Director in 2017. She was previously a researcher on The Starpath Project from 2011-2014 and has been lecturing and researching at the University of Auckland since 2001.

Melinda is 2016 Marsden grant recipient and former Fulbright/Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga scholar who has published widely on the nature of Māori identity. Her research examines the ways race, ethnicity, culture and identity impact the lives of young people - particularly Māori students. Her previous Starpath research involved identifying and addressing the barriers that prevent participation and success in degree-level education especially for Māori, Pacific, and other students from low socio-economic communities. She also spent six years as a co-principal Investigator on the Ka Awatea Project examining the nature of teaching, learning and home socialisation patterns that support high-achieving Māori students in New Zealand. 

List of publications and research supervision.


Director: Schools Engagement - Joy Eaton


BA, DipSM, DipTchg

Joy joined the Starpath team in early 2011 as Deputy Director. She started her career in education as a geography and social studies teacher at Tangaroa College and has since held a number of senior management roles in mid-low decile schools, including four years as principal at Henderson High School in West Auckland.

Joy has a deep academic interest in the role of hope in the sustainability of innovation and change in education and, as part of a Research Fellowship with Unitec, produced a paper entitled The Life and Death of Change. She was also invited to be part of an international research team making a comparative study of middle leadership in schools in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Recently, Joy has been actively involved in environmental education and has continued to support community work with an interest in youth mentoring, teen parent education and the issues of deprivation that create barriers to school attendance.


Research Analyst - Victoria Cockle

Victoria Cockle


In 2015 Victoria Cockle joined the Starpath team as a research analyst. She is involved in qualitative and quantitative (including mixed-methods) analysis of longitudinal Starpath data to help inform the evaluation of the effectiveness of the project. In 2016-2017 she will be working on a research project with Associate Professor Anne Hynds, investigating the quality of credits undertaken by secondary students in Starpath schools. She joins Starpath from the Kia Eke Panuku: Building on Success project, and was at the Woolf Fisher Research Centre prior to that. She is currently undertaking post-graduate study in Environmental Management at the University of Auckland.


Professional Development Facilitator - Tania Linley-Richardson


MPROFST (Hons), BA (Hons), DipTchg

Tania joined Starpath in June 2014 as Professional Development Facilitator. Prior she was HOD English at Sancta Maria College and has previously worked as an English facilitator with Team Solutions. Tania completed her Masters of Professional Studies in Education at The University of Auckland in 2015, and is interested in the areas of literacy and leadership in her studies. At Starpath Tania leads professional development for schools aimed at supporting teachers and leaders to raise student achievement, particularly for University Entrance.


Data Analyst and Facilitator - Morgan Rangi

BSc, DipTchg

Morgan's role at Starpath is as Professional Development Facilitator and Data Analyst. His recent work has been as HOD Mathematics and Statistics at Onehunga High School. He provides support for schools in the project leading staff PD sessions as well as visiting schools for data analysis around tracking and monitoring.


Research Assistant - Kapua O'Connor


MTchg(Primary), BA

Kapua O’Connor (Ngāti Kuri) joined The Starpath Project midway through 2016 after completing a Master of Teaching (Primary) at The University of Auckland/Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau. Prior to that he completed a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English Literature and Sociology) at Victoria University of Wellington/Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui.

His main involvement in The Starpath Project is collecting student and whānau voice.

He is also studying part-time completing a Certificate of Proficiency in Education, looking at students travelling from Far North communities to secondary school.