Meet our teachers

Great teachers make all the difference. Take the opportunity to read about a selection of our academic staff. Find out why they are so passionate about the courses they teach, and read their advice for those embarking on university study for the first time. Many have received high-profile accolades - so when you study at The University of Auckland, you can be confident you’re being taught by people who are leaders in their fields.

Professor Elaine Wainwright - Theology


Much of Western society’s art and culture has been influenced by Christianity, and Professor Elaine Wainwright believes study of the Bible and sacred texts helps us to better understand the complexities of today's society. As a teacher of Biblical Studies, she is intrigued by the different approaches to interpreting the Bible and how it speaks to people in the modern world.

Elaine began her theological studies in Queensland in the 1970s when the feminist movement was establishing itself. This led to a strong and continuing research interest in the place of women in antiquity, and feminist interpretations of the Bible in which women were often not given a voice. She is also an expert on healing and gender in Graeco-Roman society and the early Christian world, and her most recent book Women healing; Healing Women (Equinox) was published in 2006.

Professor Elaine Wainwright is the Head of the School of Theology.


Dr Gerard Rowe - Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr Gerard Rowe teaches electromagnetism - the bridge between physics and engineering, or the cusp between the science and applied science camps. He also teaches radio systems, in which students design cellphone, microwave and television broadcasting systems.

There are many practical applications involved in these subjects, and Dr Rowe points out that there is a desperate need in society for engineers who are competent in technical areas and who also possess excellent communication skills. Engineers need to be effective at articulating issues to the public, such as the reality behind electromagnetic exposure near power lines and cellphone base stations.

He feels that time management is one of the most important skills school leavers need to learn in order to be effective in their studies and careers. He also advises his students to follow their hearts when making course and career decisions and try not be swayed by peer or parental pressure.

Dr Gerard Rowe is a senior lecturer in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering. He also holds 18 teaching awards.


Dr Jill Smith - Art Education


Many art teachers in secondary schools owe their professional start in life to art educator Dr Jill Smith. As a graduate of our Elam School of Fine Arts, she has mentored hundreds of students from tertiary art institutions who have made teaching their career.

"Art education is as much about process as the end product. The focus on finished work, while still critical, has given way to students researching art and artists as an influence on developing and communicating their ideas."

Jill has led her field in bicultural and multicultural visual arts education. For her Masters of Education, she investigated the relationship between bicultural policy and art education practice in secondary schools. She believes that non-Māori can gain the requisite knowledge to be able to teach Māori art education with integrity and sensitivity. For her Doctor of Education, she expanded her focus to multiculturalism.

Dr Jill Smith is a principal lecturer in the School of Arts, Languages and Literacies within the Faculty of Arts. She also holds a Teaching Excellence Award.


Dr Niki Harre - Psychology


A fascination with other people's realities prompted Dr Niki Harre to study psychology. She also wanted to look at issues which affect people, particularly adolescents, in their daily lives. "I enjoy the interaction with students and other young people. There is an immense satisfaction when you see that something you've said or done has helped to improve someone's life."

Consistently voted by her students as an excellent teacher, she had many years of high school teaching experience before she joined the University. As a school teacher, she realised that injury was one of the main issues impacting on children and youth, and the design and evaluation of injury prevention has since become a focus of her research.

Nikki is a media commentator on a range of social issues including the emotional impact of terrorism, risky driving and speeding, the impact of physical appearance and tattooing. She is also actively involved in youth development and community projects, and works closely with Project K, a programme for at-risk high school students in Year 10.

Dr Niki Harre is a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology within the Faculty of Science.


Dr Rachel Fewster - Statistics


Keen to use her mathematical skills to solve ecological problems in the world, Dr Rachel Fewster decided to specialise in statistics. Nowadays, her end applications are in ecology and conservation, and her research takes her around the country to the Bay of Islands, the Coromandel Peninsula, Great Barrier Island and Stewart Island.

"Wild New Zealand is full of interesting problems. My work ranges from studying the population genetics of wild rats on remote islands to modelling individual sightings of whales in New Zealand's sub-Antarctic waters. For the statistician, that means we can take our skills to almost any application that catches our interest."

One of the highlights of her job is seeing how students develop as they progress from first to third year. Rachel says it's not about the extra knowledge gained but the clarity of thought, making those with a degree in maths or statistics an asset for employers.

"All through life we have problems to solve - anything from weekly work priorities to a disagreement with the boss. The effective problem-solver steps back from the problem, sees the big picture and then works logically towards a solution from start to end. These are the skills that students retain long after they've forgotten how to calculate an integral or find a variance."

Dr Rachel Fewster is a senior lecturer in the Department of Statistics within the Faculty of Science.


Dr Tracey McIntosh - Sociology


Dr Tracey McIntosh freely admits her sociology courses tend to examine the darker side of the discipline. Her popular Stage II courses - one on death and dying and the other on crime - examine the wider social frameworks and inequalities surrounding death. Her special interest in issues affecting Māori (she is of Tuhoe descent) means she is a regular guest lecturer. She believes Māori students should not feel limited to courses focusing on Māori issues.

“It’s equally important to follow your own interests and study a wide range of subjects", Tracey says. "I get incredible satisfaction helping students gain a deep understanding of issues. It helps develop skills that are not just important for their working life, but for a richly-lived life. There are few times in life where you get the opportunities like those available at university, so make the most of it."

Dr Tracey McIntosh is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology within the Faculty of Arts and Co-Director of Nga Pae. She also holds a Distinguished Teaching Award.


Professor Rod Brodie - Marketing


Professor Rod Brodie says an intrinsic motivation for teaching is to satisfy an ongoing thirst for knowledge and his interest in business and change.

"The Business School delivers a range of outstanding programmes, some of which have worldwide recognition. It is extremely rewarding to be part of something so significant, and support the delivery of a world-class education programme that will ultimately benefit all New Zealand. The great thing about The University of Auckland is the way the departments and schools work together to maximise synergies."

Over the past two decades, Rod has been active in the development of marketing education both in Australasia and internationally, and has held teaching and visiting research positions in several universities across the world. His publications have appeared in many leading international journals.

Professor Rod Brodie is Head of the Department of Marketing in the Business School. He is also the founding president of the Australia New Zealand Marketing Academy (ANZMAC), and holds the Business School's Research Excellence Award for Sustained Research Performance and various other awards.