Social Science Experts Panel

The purpose of the Social Science Experts Panel is to provide the Superu Board with assurance as to the quality and relevance of our work programme, particularly our research and evaluation activities.

The Panel provides:

  • academic peer review of any research, evaluations, standards, reports or other publications done or issued on behalf of Superu, and
  • guidance on our work programme, particularly our research and evaluation activities.

Professor Richard Bedford chairs the panel.


Professor Richard Bedford QSO (Chair)

Professor Richard Bedford QSO, FRSNZ is Emeritus Professor at the University of Waikato and Professor of Migration Studies at the Auckland University of Technology. He is a population geographer who specialises in migration research.

Since the mid-1960s he has been researching processes of population movement and demographic change in the Asia-Pacific region. His major research interests are circular forms of population mobility within and between countries, immigration policy, and the relationships between population movement and social and economic transformation in rural and urban areas in New Zealand and the Pacific.

He is currently working on implications for New Zealand and Australia of population developments and migration trends in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 30-40 years, including the impact of climate change on migration.


Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes

Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes  (Ngāti Wai/Ngāti Hine/Ngāti Manu) is the Director of Whariki and co-Director of the SHORE & Whariki Research Centre at Massey University.

Helen is a multidisciplinary social scientist, with expertise in theory development, quantitative and qualitative methods and research design. She is co-leader of the theme Te Tai Ao in the recently awarded Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga  Centre of Research Excellence bid, Chair of the Interim Kahui Maori for the health and wellbeing National Science Challenges and member of the Health Research Council’s Maori Health Committee. She has particular expertise in the fields of public health, Maori methods and methodologies, research ethics and tikanga, community engagement and research capacity building.

Helen’s research areas currently include natural environments and health, life-course approaches to health and wellbeing, health promotion, health services research, identity and culture, parent and child health, whanau ora and evaluation research.


Professor Paul Spoonley

Paul Spoonley is a Distinguished Professor at Massey University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has led numerous research programmes on behalf of the Government, and written or edited 28 books.

Professor Spoonley has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen. He has received the Royal Society of New Zealand Science and Technology Medal and the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand's scholarship for exceptional service to New Zealand sociology.


Professor Sally Merry

Dr Sally Merry is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. She has been appointed to the Cure Kids Duke Family Chair in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, is Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland and Director of the Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Professor Merry’s main area of research interest is improving the care of children and adolescents with mental health problems across New Zealand. She has a special interest in teenage depression and in intervening very early in life, but her interests span infancy, childhood and adolescence. She has a particular interest in the use of technology to make interventions more widely available and led the team that developed SPARX, an award winning computer based intervention for adolescent depression. SPARX uses a fantasy game format and has been shown to work in a large clinical trial. It has attracted wide interest internationally and is available as a national service in New Zealand, funded by the Prime Minister as part of his Youth Mental Health Initiative. 

Professor Merry has worked in clinical psychiatry for many years in both community and inpatient settings. She teaches medical students and registrars and supervises doctoral students. Professor Merry helped pioneer part-time specialist medical training in New Zealand, has three children and has for much of her career worked part-time. She has enjoyed returning to full time work over the last decade. 


Last update: 16 Sep 2015