Dr Sereana Naepi.
Determination to bring about meaningful progress for Pacific people is driving force for award-winning scholar.
The values of "service and change" ripple through the world class research of Dr Sereana Naepi.
She has received a Research Impact Award for her work that seeks to address racism and inequity, experienced by Pacific people.
After leading a study in 2019 that questioned why Pacific people make up only 3 per cent of academic staff across the motu, Naepi co-authored Aotearoa New Zealand’s first study on Māori and Pacific science researchers in 2020. Her findings led to an unsettling but not unexpected discovery of universities as culturally unsafe learning environments.
Inspired to dig deeper, Naepi has been speaking out on big issues such as the Pacific gender pay gap and global issues faced by indigenous communities – all of which has sparked international talanoa.
In 2021 Naepi, University of Auckland, was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship for research titled: Planning for Change: An analysis of neoliberalism, equity and change in higher education’ taking her deeper into critiquing universities while enhancing the indigenous academy.
At the Research Impact Awards ceremony her daughters accepted the awarded with her, showing just how much family means to Naepi.
“It’s an incredible privilege to work in university and but it is my Pacific perspective that makes my research strong – it is the Pacific (and Māori) women who have supported and nurtured my growth that has paved the way for me to do research like this,” says Naepi.
“I do the work I do because I want change, and I think that’s why a lot of people get into research, so getting to celebrate with others was a really nice feeling.”