Associate Professor Melinda Webber

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


He pepeha

Ki te taha o toku matua ko Ngati Whakaue toku iwi.
Ki te taha o toku whaea ko Ngapuhi, ko Ngati Kahu, ko Ngati Hau oku iwi

Associate Professor Melinda Webber is a former Fulbright/Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Scholar who has published widely on the nature of Māori identity. Melinda's research examines the ways race, ethnicity, culture and identity impact the lives of young people, particularly Maori students. In 2016, Melinda was awarded a prestigious Marsden Fast-Start grant to undertake a research project examining the distinctive identity traits of Ngāpuhi, New Zealand’s largest iwi. In 2017 Melinda was awarded an esteemed Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to tackle an important question facing educators – ‘How can we foster cultural pride and academic aspiration among Māori students?’

Associate Professor Melinda Webber spent four years working as a researcher on The Starpath Project from 2011-2014 identifying and addressing the barriers that prevent participation and success in degree-level education especially for Maori, 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 Maori students in New Zealand.

Research | Current

  • Adolescent social psychology
  • Racial ethnic identity construction
  • Maori Gifted Learners / Maori student success
  • Qualitative research methodologies

Current Research Projects:

  • The Starpath Project – Partnership for Excellence
  • Kia tu rangatira ai nga iwi Maori: Living, succeeding, and thriving as iwi Maori - Rutherford Discovery Fellowship
  • A fire in the belly of Hineāmaru - Marsden Grant Project
  • Maori Achievement Collaboratives - Lead Research Partner


Teaching | Current

  • Maori student success
  • Maori research: Methods, approaches & ethics
  • Educational & Social-Psychology – Identity development
  • Gifted Education

Postgraduate supervision

Current Research Students

  • Catherine Mitchell – PhD: The experiences of first generation doctoral students: choices and challenges
  • Lisa Watson - EdD: Contributing Factors for Māori Student Success in English Medium Secondary Schools in Tai Tokerau.
  • Hana Turner - PhD: Differential Teacher Treatment, Expectations and Student Success at Secondary School
  • Barb O'Loughlin - PhD: What might high-quality learning for tamariki Māori in early childhood education look like?
  • Pauline Adams - PhD: What counts as identity capital? Examining factors that facilitate identity in Māori-Pākehā individuals across multiple group contexts
  • Tania Cliffe - PhD: Cultural identity and the trajectory of Māori youth who offend and enter into secure youth justice residential care in New Zealand and Australia.
  • Yvonne Ualesi - PhD: Youth Mentoring in Aotearoa: Towards a Culturally Responsive Framework
  • Tracey Harris - PhD: Maori learners at their cutting edge:  A description of their opening pathways.

Completed Dissertations and Theses

  • Chelsea Wills – BEd Honours - 2009: Teachers’ and students’ perceptions of writing ability
  • Karen Liley – BEd Honours - 2009: Practitioner voices: new early childhood graduates’ perceptions of their preparedness to teach a bicultural curriculum
  • Tessa Tupai – MEd - 2009: Experiences of first-generation university students: A New Zealand context
  • Lisa Watson – MEd - 2011: Factors supporting Maori student success in two Northland high-schools
  • Kiri Kirkpatrick – BEd(Hons) – 2011: Teachers’ use of information and communication technology to differentiate for gifted and talented students
  • Rachel Aranui – MEd – 2011: Self-efficacy, classroom connectedness and racial-ethnic identity of tamariki Maori in bilingual classes
  • Kirsten Clark – BEd(Hons) - 2011: Great Expectations for Male Maori in Education
  • Tania Cliffe - MEd 2013: Whakapapa, education, identity and belonging: conversations with Maori students with high and complex needs
  • Hana Turner - MEd 2013: Teacher Expectations, Ethnicity and the Achievement Gap
  • Kylie Jenkinson - MProfst 2013: Academic Mentoring: High-achieving students’ perceptions of mentoring in a low-decile school.
  • Vivienne Russell – MEd 2013: Gifted Maori students in an English-Medium secondary school
  • Karen Smith - MEd 2013: The experiences of Pasifika students from low decile areas in high decile schools.
  • Ben Claxton - MProfst 2016: How do Maori students from one South Auckland secondary school perceive educational success?
  • Manaia Chou-Lee - MProfst 2016: Beneficial practices at an Auckland secondary school that prepare Year 13 students for integration into New Zealand society.
  • Tari Stowers - MEd 2016: Exploring the Motivation and Well-being of New Zealand Medical Students
  • Andrew Gipps - MEd 2016: A study of effective mentoring practice for 16 and 17 year old Pasifika Students in a New Zealand secondary school.
  • Moana Timoko - MEd 2017: Whakapapa driving positive momentum in a Northland kura kaupapa Māori.
  • Margi Grey - MEd 2017: New Zealand-born Pacific perspectives on culture, language and identity
  • Kapua O'Connor - CoP 2017: Stories of Maori student success
  • Renee Neville - MEd 2017: Teacher’s beliefs about racial-ethnic identity and the effect on their pedagogical approaches for Māori students.
  • Melanie Van Ansam - MProfst 2017: Teachers’ initial experiences of collaboration in a Community of Learning




2013 Fulbright / Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Scholar

2013 Visiting Scholar - University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

2016 Marsden Fast-start Grant Awardee

2017 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Areas of expertise

Racial-ethnic identity development

Maori conceptions of giftedness

Maori student success

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Trustee - The First Foundation (from 2014)

Board Member - giftEDnz (from 2016)

Co-Editor - MAI Journal: A New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Kukutai, T., & Webber, M. J. (2017). Ka Pū Te Ruha, Ka Hao Te Rangatahi: Māori identities in the Twenty-first century. In A. Bell, V. Elizabeth, T. McIntosh, M. Wynyard (Eds.) A Land of Milk and Honey? Making sense of Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 71-82). Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press.
  • Santamaría AP, Webber, M., & Santamaría LJ (2016). Effective school leadership for māori achievement: Building capacity through indigenous, national, and international cross-cultural collaboration. Educational Leadership and Administration: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 1547-1567). 10.4018/978-1-5225-1624-8.ch071
  • Webber, M., McKinley, E., & Rubie-Davies, C. (2016). Making it personal: Academic counseling with Māori students and their families. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 47, 51-60. 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2016.03.001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christine Rubie-Davies
  • Santamaria, A. P., Webber, M., Santamaria, L. J., Dam, I. L., & Jayavant, S. (2016). Te Ara Hou—A new pathway for leading Māori success as Māori. Evaluation Matters—He Take Tō Te Aromatawai, 2, 99-129. 10.18296/em.0013
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lincoln Dam
  • Santamaria, A. P., Santamaria, L. M., Webber, M., & Jayavant, S. (2016). Te ara hou - The Māori achievement collaboratives (MACs): Revolutionizing Indigenous student learning through women’s educational leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand. In T. N. Watson, A. H. Normore (Eds.) Racially and ethnically diverse women leading education: A worldview (pp. 122-144). Emerald Group Publishing.
  • Macfarlane, A., Macfarlane, S., & Webber, M. J. (Eds.) (2015). Sociocultural Realities: Exploring New Horizons (1st). Christchurch, New Zealand: Canterbury University Press. Pages: 224.
  • Webber, M. J. (2015). Diversity and the secondary years: Ngā pūmanawa e waru: Identifying the characteristics of successful intelligence from a Māori perspective. In A. Macfarlane, S. Macfarlane, M. J. Webber (Eds.) Sociocultural Realities: Exploring New Horizons (pp. 135-154). Christchurch, NZ: Canterbury University Press.
  • Webber, M. J. (2015). Understanding and affirming Maori success and potential. Paper presented at Te Akatea National Maori Principals's Networks: Hui a Tau, Rendevous Hotel, Auckland. 9 September - 11 September 2015.

Contact details

Primary location

Level 1, Room 106
New Zealand