top of page

Te Piri Poho


Our researchers are from all three Tikanga - Māori, Pasifika, and Pākehā, and are variously engaged in postgraduate and postdoctoral research. Those studying for postgraduate diplomas, masters degrees or doctorates are studying through a range of providers in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad.

Saint Johns Photos 2021-165.jpg



Rev'd Dr Paul Reynolds

Kaiako/Lecturer and Research Fellow

PhD, MMS(Dist), BMS, GradDipComm, DipTchg

Paul is from Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngā Puhi & Whanganui, and was raised in Taumarunui. His current position is Kaiako/Lecturer & Researcher at the College. Prior to August 2021, Paul was the Acting Dean Tikanga Maori from 2020 to 2021.

Paul spent two years working with Bishop Muru Walters as Kaihautu Awhi Whanau, Social Justice Educator, within Te Hui Amorangi ki te Upoko o te Ika. Before that he was EA to Bishop John Gray within Te Hui Amorangi ki te Waipounamu, then General Manager for the Amorangi until the end of 2016.


Previous work has included a role in social justice for the 3-Tikanga Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, a member of the Inter-church Bioethics Council (ICBC), as well as member of various Amorangi, Pihopatanga & 3-Tikanga Anglican Church Committees. He has been a Steering Group Member of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) since 2017. Paul completed a PhD at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in 2003, and has spent 10+ years as a kaupapa Maori health researcher since then.


From June 2005 to August 2014 Paul was the Co-Director & Co-Founder of Te Atawhai o Te Ao: Independent Māori Institute for Environment and Health, based in Whanganui. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow from Feb. 2004 to April 2006 at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Centre of Research Excellence (CORE), The National Institute of Research Excellence for Māori Development and Advancement at the University of Auckland. Paul has a wide range of Māori and Indigenous health and other social issues writing published in Aotearoa, overseas, and on the internet. Work (paid and unpaid) has also included consultancy, commissions and membership on various committees - both church and non-church.


Paul’s interest is in encouraging and fostering the development of kaupapa Maori and Indigenous research, with a current focus at the College on Maori and Indigenous theological research.

Publications include:

Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) & Te Runanga Whakawhanaunga i nga Haahi (the Maori Ecumenical Council of Churches). July, 2021. Statement of Solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada written in support of indigenous Canadians, following the discovery of mass graves of indigenous children from different sites that were used by Canada’s Government and church-sponsored historic residential school system.


Dr Lily George, Paul Gilberd, Anthea Napier, Rev’d Dr Paul Reynolds, Rev’d Jolyon White. (2017). “Tūrangawaewae: Whānau wellbeing for all.” Edition: Responding to homelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand. Parity Magazine – Australian Council to Homeless Persons national publication, examining homelessness from personal, local, social and global perspectives.


Pihama L, Reynolds P, Smith C, Reid J, Smith LT, Nana RT. Positioning Historical Trauma Theory within Aotearoa New Zealand. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. 2014;10(3):248-262. doi:10.1177/117718011401000304

Reynolds, P., Smith C., & Pihama, L. (2014). Leaving home to become stronger: Maori LGBT (takatāpui) in New Zealand. Traumatic StressPoints, March 2014, Volume 29 Issue 2. International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

O’Hagan, M., Reynolds, P., Smith, C. (2012, February). Recovery in New Zealand: An Evolving Concept? International Review of Psychiatry, Special Issue Guest edited edition on the theme of ‘Recovery.’ 24(1): 56-63.

Dr Cherryl Smith, Dr Paul Reynolds. (2010). Ka Rongo Te Pakanga Nei  / Maori Vietnam veterans and whanau perspectives on the impacts of involuntary chemical exposure and the broader effects of the war. Whanganui: Te Atawhai o te Ao.


Dr Maui Hudson, Ms Moe Milne, Dr Paul Reynolds, Dr Khyla Russell, Dr Barry Smith - The Pūtaiora Writing Group (2010). Te Ara Tika: Guidelines for Māori research ethics: A framework for researchers and ethics committee members. Health Research Council.


Clive Aspin, Paul Reynolds, Keren Lehavot and Jacob Taiapa, (2009). An Investigation of the Phenomenon of Non-Consensual Sex among Maori Men Who Have Sex with Men. Culture, Health & Sexuality. Vol. 11, No. 1 (Jan., 2009), pp. 35-49 (15 pages). Published By: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 


Fenaughty, J., Braun, V., Gavey, N., Aspin, C., Reynolds, P. & Schmidt, J. (2006). Sexual coercion among gay men, bisexual men and takatāpui tāne in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Department of Psychology, The University of Auckland.


Hutchings, J. & P. Reynolds. (2005) 'Maori and the McScience of new technologies: Biotechnology and nanotechnology research and development.'


Esther Chan

Postgrad Student

Masters of Arts in Arts Therapy (MAAT) through Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design (2021)

Since moving to Auckland 5 years ago Esther has continually found herself in situations where, as a pākehā, she has been in the minority culture.

Through these experiences, she has been confronted by issues of justice concerning colonisation, racism and white identity. As she prepares to enter the world of professional practice as an arts therapist, she is curious about the biases she carries as a white woman and is eager to conscientise these in order to practice in a more just and ethical way.

Esther’s research project entitled “Staring into the mirror: Anti-racist arts therapy practices“ explored the question, 'What ongoing arts practices useful to me and the profession of arts therapy emerge when I use arts-based autoethnographic research to explore my internal racial bias and privilege?'


Jax Clark

Postgrad Student

Bachelor of Applied Theology, NZ Diploma in Christian Studies, Diploma of Leadership.

Jax recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Pastoral Theology at the University of Otago.

As well as her previous qualifications, Jax is also a StrengthsFinder coach for individuals and teams. She is a residential student and lives at St John’s with her two teenage daughters and cat.

Her dissertation researches Nadia Bolz Weber’s assertion that "more people are finding recovery in the basement of Churches than the sanctuary" - and looks at what church leaders might learn about mission and discipleship from 12 step recovery programmes. Her aim is to help churches develop a healthy culture and support them to avoid unsafe practices and codependent behaviour.


Rev'd Dr Miryam Clough

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD in Theology and Religious Studies (University of Bristol/Trinity College Bristol)

BD in Hebrew/Old Testament (Otago University)

BA in English (Otago University)

LCH (College of Homeopathy, London)

Miryam is affiliated with the Centre for Theology and Public Issues (Otago University) and is a Resident Scholar and Adjunct Pouako/Tutor at Ōrongonui, the regional ministry training programme of Te Hui Amorangi ki Te Tai Tokerau.

Miryam’s doctoral thesis on Ireland’s Magdalen laundries examined shame, gender, and sexuality in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from feminist and postcolonial perspectives. Miryam studied liturgy at King’s College, London in the early 1990s, prior to training as a homeopath. Until 2019, she practiced and lectured in homeopathy in the UK, where she also worked in dementia care.


Miryam’s current research explores whakamā/shame and gender violence in Aotearoa and will give particular attention to the effects of colonisation and of church/state appropriation of indigenous, female, and LGBTQ+ identities, bodies, and sexualities.  Her aim is to offer practical and theologically based responses to these concerns to improve the lives of those marginalised by dominant cultures.

Publications include:

Vocation and Violence: The Church and #MeToo, Routledge, 2022

‘Keeping Secrets: The Church of England and Shame’ in Letters to a Broken Church, Janet Fife and Gilo eds. Ekklesia, 2019

Shame, the Church and the Regulation of Female Sexuality, Routledge, 2017

‘Shame: A risky emotion in dementia care’, January 2016, Journal of Dementia Care 24(6):32-34

Atoning Shame?’ August 2014, Feminist Theology 23(1):6-17

‘Managing shame in the consulting room’, Autumn 2012, The Homeopath 31:2

‘Shame and organisations’, May 2010, The International Journal of Leadership in Public Services 6(1):25-33


Rev'd Robert Santa Fakafu

Doctoral Candidate

Robert is completing a PhD in Theology.

Thesis title (tentative): A Church Response to Climate Change and Displacement in the Solomon Islands with special reference to Tikopia: The Forau Model.

Communities in the Pacific region are extremely vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. Some islands are facing the threat of submerging, and communities have been forced to relocate to the bigger islands. The Solomon Islands as a country made of many islands is currently experiencing the impacts of climate change.

For the churches, and more specifically the Anglican Church of Melanesia, there is currently limited knowledge on how they can effectively engage with climate change and its impacts and help to integrate theological models that are contextually relevant. Tikopia, a Polynesian island situated in the far eastern part of the Solomon Islands is extremely vulnerable to climate change. The most substantial impacts of climate change include losses of coastal infrastructure and land, more frequent and intense cyclones and droughts, failure of subsistence crops and coastal fisheries, losses of coral reefs, saline intrusion and the spread of certain diseases. Climate change has affected the normal Tikopian way of life and the sustainable development of our island in profound ways.

Tikopia is solely the Anglican Church of Melanesia by religious affiliation. The Anglican Church of Melanesia has deep connections to the neatly structured chiefly system of the island. There are no other denominations existing besides the Anglican strand of Christianity.  While adapting to many changes brought about by climate change like sea-level rise, soil and freshwater salination, many people in Tikopia are already moving to new locations in various parts of the Solomon Islands and some are still thinking. In this, relocation has become for my people an alternative adaptive measure negotiated by the government and our people. The exodus to newly negotiated areas within the Solomon Islands has not only solved direct threats from climate change but it has also caused newer issues. Cultural dilution, interdenominational movements, youth exposure to unwanted social habits and behaviour have challenged newly created settlements in the larger predominantly Melanesian islands. The centre of the proposed thesis is in this area.

Robert’s work, therefore, matters in the following ways:

  • It will help to stimulate Pacific Islanders to firstly investigate themselves for solutions thus reducing dependency.

  • It will contribute to scholarship – the benefits of Indigenous Knowledge and Contextual Theology.

  • It will help the church in Robert’s context to address issues that communities are facing today.


Rev'd Laiseni Fanon Charisma Liava'a (Seni) 

Doctoral Candidate

MAppl Theo, MBA, Postgrad Cert. Chaplaincy, BD Hons.

Seni is a Tongan priest in the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia. He is currently a fourth-year residential scholarship student at the college, and is doing his doctoral research through the University of Canterbury, under Pacific Studies.

Seni’s thesis title is Lotu and Felupe: Reimagining a Gender-Inclusive Approach to Climate Resilience in Tonga. His research attempts to frame climate change and responses to it from the position of some churches (lotu) in Tonga. More specifically it uses the framework of felupe, a Tongan concept, which means ‘holding things together,’ to understand how lotu respond to climate change at a time when governments and other global, regional and national institutions are also involved in different ways with the same issue. Of significance here is how the thesis analyses the indigenous notion of felupe from the viewpoint of ordinary Tongan women and their experience, as a way of creating a gendered approach to a unified response to climate change.

Seni is expecting to complete his research by June 2022. Prior to this, Seni was a Tongan navy officer. He has worked in various positions, both in the government and private sector in Tonga. He is married to 'Ana and they have three girls Edwina, Anne Marie, and Siteifania. 

Publications include:

Havea, P. H., Sarah L. Hemstock, Helene J. D. Combes, and Laiseni F. C. Liava‘a. “Impact of Climate Change on Spirituality”. Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (59) 2019. Also read it here.

Havea, P. H., Antoine D. R. N’Yeurt, Helene J. D. Combes, Sarah L. Hemstock, Laiseni F. C. Liava‘a and Elisapesi Havea. “Tā e Lango kei Mama'o: A Framework for Resilience Development in Tonga”. SSRN 2019. Also read it here.

Havea, P. H., Helene J. D. Combes, Sarah L. Hemstock, Johannes M. Luetz and Laiseni F. C. Liava‘a. “Climate Change, Justice and Resilience – A key to Building a Resilient Tonga.” Social Sciences MDPI.” 7, x; 2018 doi: FOR PEER REVIEW.

Liava‘a, Laiseni F. C. “Felupe Theology: A Theological Reflection on the Three Tikanga Church and Ministry Proposal for Change.” in D. Moffat, ed. Te Awa Rerenga Maha: Braided River. Auckland: Anglican Church  of NZ, 2018: 217-232.

Liava‘a, Laiseni F. C. “Tonga is God’s Mana Today.” Mana Sia-‘a-toutai Journal of Theology 1 (1) 2008:117- 133.


Rev'd Shona Pink Martin

Master's Candidate

BTheol (Hons), Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa

Shona’s life experiences of interdenominational worship in the evangelical Church throughout Australasia and around the globe eventually met with her broadcasting career in the early 2000s, when a new direction led her into the Māori Anglican Church. She found the highly formal character of Māori Anglican worship a stark contrast to the dynamic rhythms and joyful sounds of worship among the indigenous peoples of South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe. 

This left her wondering where the joy and uplifting rhythmical musicality of her own people had disappeared to, when it came to their own unique Sunday worship. 


Shona has been directly affiliated with Te Hāhi Mihingare for over 20 years and is now an ordained clergyperson for Te Pīhopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau. Church attendance has been in steady decline for several decades and church closures are common for Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa.  While ‘the ground has shifted’, extraordinary popular interest in Te Matatini highlights the question of why Kapa haka, offered in creative and joyful Christian worship, has yet to find its ‘rightful’ place?  

The added disruption of a global pandemic over the past two years has added another layer to Shona’s Master’s thesis in response to the question: How might bold new developments in Māori Anglican Worship promote creative flourishing for dynamic growth in Te Hāhi Mihingare?  


Rev'd Dr Joe McGarry

Kaiako / Lecturer & Research Fellow

Joe’s principal research interests surround theologies of discipleship and spiritual formation, with a particular eye towards their integration into the church’s everyday life. He has recently been awarded a research fellowship through Laidlaw College and is investigating moral reasoning in scripture and the early church.

His wider interests surrounding spiritual formation and discipleship have led him to develop research projects in the specific theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; theological anthropology and the imago dei; historical investigations in doctrines of sanctification, discipleship, and ethics; preaching and the role of proclamation in spiritual formation; the impact of dogmatic location on spirituality; the formal relationship between discipleship and theological education; and theological formation as a mode of discipleship.

Joe’s doctoral thesis researched formation in Christ in the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paying particular attention to how prior dogmatic categories such as Christology, ecclesiology, and theological anthropology shape and determine how Christian formation is understood.


Rev'd Te Hira Paenga

Te Ahorangi / Doctoral Candidate

I am extremely passionate about my research - Theology of Māori performing arts (Kapahaka) gifted to me by my mentor and role model, Archdeacon Dr Hone Kaa of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu.


Koro Hone was instrumental in pushing me to pursue Theology through a Māori (Ngāti Porou) hermeneutic. Koro Hone told me in his deep James Earl Jones-baritone voice  “I have your thesis topic, you can study haka, waiata and poi of Ngāti Porou and you can write it in Ngāti Porou dialect”. 

With a big sigh, I said “wow that's a good idea.” He didn't know that I was about to submit my MA dissertation and complete my MA studies. It took ten years for it to sink in, 2019 I accepted his challenge. My thesis aims to formalise a theology of MPA that is currently present amongst Māori cultural clubs, parishes, iwi, hapū, marae, schools and communities throughout Aotearoa.


This thesis will provide a critical explanation of contemporary and traditional MPA compositions that have biblical themes and references from disciplines such as waiata tira (choral), whakaeke (entry), mōteatea (traditional chant), poi, waiata-a-ringa (action song) haka and whakawātea (exit). Such compositions will provide the basis for my theological analysis of Māori performing arts.


I am ambitious that this thesis, “Towards a Model of Theology for Traditional Māori Performing arts,” will be the catalyst for pushing theological boundaries while acknowledging MPA and its pioneers over the years. This thesis hopes to provide depth and breadth to Māori theology and resources for those in MPA.


Rev’d Neihana Reihana

 Postgrad Diploma Candidate

BBus, Postgrad Sec. Teaching, Grad Diploma Theo, Te Pīnakitanga ki te Reo Kairangi, Te Pōkaitahi Reo.

Currently completing his Postgraduate Diploma in Pastoral Theology at the University of Otago.

Neihana has whakapapa to Raukawa and Ngāti Ranginui. He is a residential scholarship student at St John’s College. Neihana is a deacon in Te Pīhopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau. He is married to Elena Reihana. They both have two children, Whakaaria and Mākoha.

Neihana’s dissertation is titled: “Kia karakia, kia īnoi rānei tātou.” It is a study of the relationship between karakia tawhito (ancient Māori incantation) and karakia/īnoi Karaitiana (Christian prayer from Scripture and tradition). Neihana is examining some of their similarities, in thought and practice, and their differences. His dissertation is written in te reo Māori.

His study interests are concerned with mātauranga Māori, theology, anthropology, Aotearoa history and indigenous theology. Neihana is a trustee for Oati. He is also a teaching fellow for Venn Foundation which focuses on Christian formation.


Rev'd Joshua Taylor

Doctoral Candidate

Bachelor of Theology (Laidlaw College), Master of Ministry (Otago University)

Joshua is an Anglican Priest from the Diocese of Christchurch. He has experience in youth ministry and several years as a Vicar in Timaru. Joshua is passionate about theology grounded in the context of the church and is particularly interested in the areas of systematic theology, practical theology, and spiritual formation for leadership. Joshua is a qualified spiritual director through Spiritual Growth Ministries NZ. He is passionate about mentoring Pastors and Christian leaders and thinking about formation for ministry. 

Joshua is currently working on a PhD through Otago University. His thesis is titled: “Speaking of Sin in 21st Century Aotearoa.” What this project seeks to explore are the difficulties in speaking about sin in 21st century Aotearoa. This project will undertake theological reflection on how the church might talk about sin, grounding the project in the wider discussion around sin in scripture and various schools of thought, with a focus on the mission of the church in society. Contemporary issues in talking about sin in a secular age will be reflected upon. Joshua hopes that this thesis will help the church think constructively about how to address the doctrine of sin in ways that will emphasize the good news of the gospel and encourage the church in its mission in Aotearoa today. 

Joshua is married to Jo and they have three girls: Phoebe, Esther, and Eve. 


Rev'd Helen Wilderspin

Doctoral Candidate

MA (Hons) in Art History

Graduate Diploma in Theology (Auckland University)

Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching (Otago University)

Helen is completing her Doctorate of Professional Practice (Capable NZ, Otago Polytechnic).

Helen is building on her experience in youth ministry (1990s) and as a priest in parish, school chaplaincy and enabler work (2001 – 2017). The doctoral study aims to support and enable congregational communities and individuals in developing their liturgical and worship life through creative play.

Publications include:

Wilderspin, H. (2020). Reflections of a priestly clown. In Council for Anglican Women’s Studies Talanoa -Telling our stories - Kōrerohia a tātou pūrakau: 40 years of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Auckland.

Wilderspin, H. (1998). A multitude of voices: Youth ministry in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. In P. Ward and L. Urwin, Eds, A Youthful Spirit. Tufton Books, London.

bottom of page