Our students

The Migrant and Refugee Research Centre aims to be a hub for postgraduate education and research training. We teach several postgraduate courses at AUT and also supervise postgraduate students.

Cultural Adaptation of Exercise Therapy Interventions for South Asian Migrants in Aotearoa-New Zealand: A Mixed Method Approach

Syed Alamdar Hussain, PhD Candidate
Dr Nada Signal and Professor Eleanor Holroyd

This project will unfold in three phases. The first phase aims to explore SA migrants’ perceptions and experiences of physical activity and exercise using a scoping review methodology. In the second phase, using an interpretive descriptive approach, interviews with Auckland-based SAM’s will be conducted to explore their perceptions and experiences regarding ET. Data will be analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. The results of the first two stages will inform the third stage, which aims to culturally adapt an evidence-based ET intervention. This phase will involve application of a cultural adaption framework (REF) including information gathering, preliminary adaptation design, tests and refinement, and a clinical pilot trial This three-phased mixed-method research design will provide a rigorous and internally consistent   framing   to develop thorough and culturally sensitive approach to ET.

Understanding recently arrived older Chinese migrants' experiences of healthcare access and utilisation in New Zealand during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed-methods study

Sherry (Xi) Zhu, PhD Candidate
Supervisors: Professor Eleanor Holroyd, Dr Priya Saravanakumar, Dr Irene Zeng

Chinese late-life migrants commonly encounter specific difficulties in accessing and using healthcare in the host society, a concern significantly heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. This mixed-methods study aims to understand recently arrived Chinese late-life migrants’ (aged 65 years and over, first arrived in the host country less than ten years ago, and currently reside in New Zealand) experiences in accessing and using healthcare services in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ), during and beyond the COVID-19 outbreak situation. Phase one of the study employs a descriptive qualitative method to explore the predisposing, enabling, and need-related factors that inform participants’ healthcare access and utilisation experiences. In phase two, the results of phase one were used to modify an existing survey (2017/18 NZ Health Survey) and develop a pilot survey to gather quantitative data related to participants' healthcare utilisation experiences.

Healthy Ageing and Wellbeing: Exploring the perspectives of older Indian Migrants in Aotearoa New Zealand

Jayanthi (Jay) Nagalingam, PhD Candidate 
Supervisors: Dr Kay Shannon, Professor Eleanor Holroyd

Within the older Indian ethnic community, there are significant social, cultural, linguistic, and religious differences. Considering these subtle differences will be instrumental to our understanding of how healthy ageing and wellbeing is perceived by the older Indian ethnic community in Aotearoa New Zealand, and particularly in a multicultural context of Auckland. This study aims to explore the perceptions of healthy ageing and wellbeing at the individual, familial (whānau), community and societal levels, and investigate the enablers and barriers to achieving healthy ageing and wellbeing using a qualitative interpretive descriptive approach. The study will also critically examine different strategies and policies implemented at regional and national levels in promoting healthy ageing and wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand and how these may/may not align with the community perceptions of ageing in the Indian migrant community. Findings from this research will be beneficial for social service providers and local government organisations in providing the necessary social and cultural infrastructure to meet the needs and improve the outcomes of the older Indian community. This will further include the communication of information, in the form of "best practices" or "recommendations" to policymakers and social service providers for a proposed migrant-centred framework of healthy ageing and wellbeing for NZ and more specifically for a multicultural context of Auckland.

Refugees at work: Narratives of identity construction

Vikashni Moore
Supervisors: Roy Smollan, Nadia Charania

Refugees’ roles in the resettlement process are not prominent. Gaps also exist in understanding refugees’ work experiences and how they construct work-related identities in varying socio-economic contexts. Identity construction is not well understood. Consequently, the process of work-related identity construction is also not well established. To explore work-related identity construction, insights from refugees, resettlement services, and employers are vital. This thesis seeks to theorise how refugees construct their work-related identities in their countries of origin and the country of resettlement.

Using participatory video to explore the perceptions and understandings of health and wellbeing among refugee background youth in Aotearoa New Zealand

Paul Ripley
Supervisors: Tineke Waters, Nadia Charania

Young people from refugee backgrounds who have resettled in Aotearoa New Zealand, represent a population with complex healthcare needs distinct from younger and older age groups. This study used participatory video (PV) to engage eight young people as co-researchers in generating knowledge about their understandings and perceptions of health and wellbeing.

A qualitative exploration of mental health care provision throughout the refugee resettlement process

Lucie Vanderpyl
Supervisors: Gareth Treharne, Nadia Charania

Refugees are entitled to access mental health care during resettlement; however, they often face a myriad of challenges when doing so. This study seeks to undertake a policy analysis of current strategies related to mental health and wellbeing among refugees. Another study aims to understand the perspectives of mental health providers’ on the accessibility and quality of mental health support to refugees resettled in Dunedin and Invercargill. Lastly, a study will be undertaken to understand refugees' experiences with accessing mental health services.

Later Life Work Decisions of Older Asian People in New Zealand

Rubina Bogati, PhD Candidate  (2021 ongoing)
Supervisors: Professor Stephen Neville, Professor Fiona Alpass, and Dr Priya Saravanakumar

This thesis aims to understand later life work decisions of older Asian workers in New Zealand (NZ). Explanatory sequential mixed methodology design supported philosophically by pragmatism will be used to answer the research questions. The preliminary quantitative phase of this study will use data from a nationally representative health, work, and retirement survey (2018). The demographic, health and wellbeing, social, occupational, financial, and other life-course factors that impact later life work decisions of older Asian workers in NZ will be studied. Quantitative data will be analysed using descriptive and regression statistics in SPSS. The second qualitative phase of this study will use in-depth interviews to understand the experience of older Asian workers. Nested sampling design will be used. A smaller qualitative sample will be nested in a larger quantitative sample. Thematic analysis technique will be used for data analysis. Socio-cultural values and beliefs of work in later life of Asian older workers will be determined. There are growing number of Asian older workers actively participating in the workforce however, minimal research is done to understand them in NZ and internationally. It is only by understanding the later life work decisions of older Asian workers that their workforce involvement can be supported and promoted.

Examining Cardiovascular Health Knowledge, Attitude and Practices Among the Fijian Indian Community in New Zealand

Thrishila Parshu Ram, PhD Candidate (2018 ongoing)
Supervisors: Dr Gael Mearns, Dr Eleanor Holroyd and Dr Jagamaya Shrestha-Ranjit

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world today. It is chronic, progressive and an irreversible disease that is augmented by both modifiable risk factors such as poor diet, high blood pressure, smoking and high levels of cholesterol, and non-modifiable risk factors including family history, ethnicity, gender and age. In New Zealand, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease is on a continuum, where anyone is at risk but some more than others. As it is well known, people of Maori, Pacific descent experience cardiovascular disease earlier on in their lives in comparison to people of other ethnicities. The Fijian Indian population, who relate to both the Indian and Pacific ethnic groups, is one such community that is at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The constant improvement of health promotion, the assessment of risk, symptoms and the understanding of cardiovascular disease in high-risk populations is vital as a preventative strategy. Thus, the aim of this study is to examine the understanding and practises relating to cardiovascular health among the Fijian Indian community in New Zealand by developing and implementing a descriptive, cross-sectional knowledge, attitudes and practices survey. This is the first study to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and practices of cardiovascular health in the Fijian Indian community as well as in New Zealand. Results from this study will provide insight as to how the knowledge, attitudes and practices of cardiovascular health among the Fijian Indian community should be promoted or enhanced as well as aid the potential development of tailored community intervention and cardiovascular health promotion in New Zealand.

Exploring Perspectives Affecting Access to Healthcare Amongst Older Fijian Indian Immigrants in New Zealand

Vimlesh Shukla , PhD Candidate (2018 ongoing)
Supervisors: Professor Eleanor Holroyd and Dr Jagamaya Shrestha-Ranjit

This study aims to explore the experiences of older Fijian Indian immigrants accessing healthcare services in respect to accessibility, availability and acceptability in New Zealand. The findings of this research will help to identify critical structural socio-cultural barriers and enablers to accessing healthcare to ethnic minority immigrants in New Zealand, specifically Fijian Indians. This research will provide a basis for policy improvement, which may contribute to improving access to equitable and quality healthcare services for this minority and under-researched population group in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Past students

Mulisa Debela, Master of Public Health
Supervisors: Dr Nadia Charania and Dr Nick Garret

After listing vaccine hesitancy in the top ten global public health threats, the WHO recommended countries to incorporate a plan to address vaccine hesitancy into their national immunisation programmes. Vaccine hesitancy is widely associated with resurgence of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs). Recently, New Zealand has observed frequent measles outbreaks which threatens the country’s status as measles-free status. There is evidence of immunisation uptake disparities between the host country children and immigrants (migrants and refugee) children in New Zealand. The aim of this research is to examine the rate of vaccine hesitancy and its determinants among former refugees. Findings from the study may provide an insight in the strategy to increase the number of refugee children who receive age-appropriate vaccinations.  An online self-report surveys is used in the data collection. A former refugee parents or guardians with a child between 6 weeks and 16 years old, and have been lived in New Zealand at least for 6 months are invited to take part in the study. Findings from this study may be published and disseminated.

Yakubu H. Yakubu, PhD 
Supervisors: Professor Eleanor Holroyd and Professor Valerie Wright-St Clair

This study aims to understand the mental health and emotional wellbeing of older women living in witches' camps of northern Ghana.The research project will or may inform Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Services, other policymakers, and allied health providers to understand better the mental health and emotional wellbeing of older women banished to witches' camps. Empirical data from the project may also help to effectively communicate conditions in the camps and behaviours of accused women and to improve health outcomes. Research about social and structural determinants of health may influence health and wellbeing, and other social support services in the camps. Furthermore, recommendations and policies that may emanate from this research project will benefit similar condemn residents and refugee camps within the African enclave and beyond. The World Health Organization will also find this project useful in helping members from low resource countries who have similar socio-cultural practices that hinder on the mental and emotional wellbeing of older people by directing and advising on best practices that yield good mental health outcomes.

Blessing Kanengoni Nyatara, PhD 
Supervisors: Professor Eleanor Holroyd and Dr Sari Andajani

The research focuses on the shared experiences, insights, ideas, and aspirations of young Black African female migrants between the age of 16 and 35 years with the New Zealand youth health delivery system to improve their health and wellbeing. The rationale and significance of the study is the failure of existing youth health policies, programmes and practices to read the social and health concerns of young African women migrants, which are often influenced by their culture, religion, tradition, system of practice, norms, and collective knowledge systems. Using an exploratory qualitative methodology informed by an African worldview, the value of collectivism was influential in identifying storytelling circles as the data collection tool of choice. Braun and Clarke thematic analysis was applied as the methodology, using a decolonizing lens which ensures the young African women’s voices are heard.

Anne Clubb, PhD
Supervisors: Dr Priya Saravanakumar and Professor Eleanor Holroyd

New Zealand is facing a shortage of nurses in the near future with around half of its workforce reaching the age of retirement in approximately 5 years. Recruitment of internationally qualified nurses (IQNs) is one of the proposed methods to manage this shortage. Currently, the majority of IQNs must pass a competency assessment programme (CAP). This research will identify the CAP elements that IQNs found useful whilst in their first two years of working as a RN in New Zealand as well as how well they thought that the course enhanced their acculturation into nursing in this country. Participants were recruited from the Indian and Filipino populations because these are the currently the largest IQN groups nationally.  The method of focused ethnography provides a culturally focused description of how participants perceived the CAP course content; and how they were able to utilise it to transition from the nursing culture of their own country to that of New Zealand. The findings will inform revision of the current CAP course and registration process.

Get in touch

Do you have questions about our research, or are you a researcher interested in what we do?

Contact us