Keynote speakers

The DevNet 2018 Conference Committee is delighted to announce our keynote speakers for this year’s conference.  Please find more information below.  Note that this page is still being updated and that there has been a change in keynote speakers due to unforeseen circumstances.

Fiona Millerheadshot - Fiona Miller

Tracing the geographies of displacement and loss in an era of climate change

The acceleration of displacement and loss associated with climate change is reconfiguring people’s connections to place, community and non-human agents in profound, and often disturbing, ways. The uneven and harmful consequences of climate change have long been documented in vulnerability studies, highlighting the disproportionate burden climate change has for those who have contributed little to this problem. This stark asymmetry reflects and reinforces the injustices embedded in the dominant development model that underpins climate change. Drawing on a long-term study of livelihood and environmental change undertaken in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam this paper traces the emerging geographies of displacement and loss resulting from the combination of climate and developmental changes. Loss, absence, substitution and surprise at a landscape scale are contributing to more precarious livelihoods. Consequently, mobility and displacement are increasingly part of people’s livelihood trajectories, leading to a reconfiguring and in some cases severing of the vital connections people previously had with particular places and each other. The paper concludes with some reflections on how development studies might more clearly trace these geographies of displacement and loss in ways that engage with questions of climate justice.


Dr Fiona Miller is a human geographer who conducts research from a political ecology perspective on the social and equity dimensions of environmental change in the Asia Pacific, notably Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as Australia. She specialises in social vulnerability, society-water relations and adaptation and is currently undertaking research on climate-related displacement in the Asia Pacific region. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University, Sydney where she teaches in the development studies, social impact assessment and human geography programs. Previously Fiona has held research positions at the Department of Resource Management and Geography at the University of Melbourne, Stockholm Environment Institute and the University of Sydney.

Manuhuia BarchamManuhuia Barcham - square

Overcoming the hubris of ‘Design for Development’: small ‘d’ design meets small ‘d’ development

Design and development have long been connected. Linear-focused, big ‘D’ Development which underpinned much of the post-World War Two twentieth century, in both its Communist and Capitalist variants, was tightly intertwined with the practice of top-down, modernist-inspired big ‘D’ Design. Despite being largely discredited (both in theory and practice), these monolithic approaches continue to underpin much recent ongoing design and development work. Looking critically at these approaches, I use this paper as an opportunity to begin to explore ways that we can approach the concepts and practice of small ‘d’ development and design as ways to overcome the negative elements of big ‘D’ Design and Development. And, in doing so, broaden the conversation about what our shared future constitutes.


Manuhuia Barcham (Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) is Principal of Archetekt, a Strategic Design & Foresight firm based in Seattle, USA. He also maintains Adjunct-Professor positions at Presidio Graduate School and the University of Washington. He was formerly a faculty member at Massey University, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific School of Economics and Management at Australian National University, Australia. His academic and practical expertise lie in strategic and organizational design, foresight and futuring, service design, information/digital systems, and social design. He holds a PhD from Australian National University.

He has undertaken development work in over 25 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, working for organizations including the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments, the United Nations Development Program, the Commonwealth, the World Bank, and many others. A former Board Member of OXFAM-New Zealand he has extensive experience working in the non-profit world as well. He continues to write and publish in addition to his practical work, with his current writing being grouped around three main themes: Decolonial Design; Indigenous Governance as World Building; and the concept of Strategic Design.

Plenary panel – Disruptive daughters: Using critical theory to rethink gender and development practice

Critical theoretical approaches such as post-colonialism, postdevelopment, indigenous epistemologies and feminism all make their mark in development studies literature. Yet changing established practices and ideas can be a slow process and well intentioned actions do not always have the desired effect.  From a dearth of local or women authors on course reading lists to the imposition of western indicators of gender equality regardless of cultural context, any number of instances requiring critical thinking emerge regularly. Yet it is not enough to just think critically — we also need to act differently.

In this panel, a range of critical development theorists reflect on the role of disruptive theory, events and ideas that have destabilised the status quo and provide a catalyst for change, particularly in the area of gender and development.

Yvonne Underhill-SemYUS Mar 2016

Yvonne Te Ruki Rangi o Tangaroa Underhill-Sem is a Cook Island, Niuean, New Zealander with close family ties to Papua New Guinea. Her research and publications circulate around Pacific feminisms, postcolonial pedagogies maternities, mobilities and markets. She is Associate Professor in Development Studies in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland and Director New Zealand Institute for Pacific Development (NZIPR) (although on leave until Feb 2019).  She is currently Co-Chair of the Research Advisory Group for the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (PWSPD) funded by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; a member of the Marsden Social Science panel and is the Deputy Chair of the PBRF Pacific panel. In 2018, she was the Pacific Island Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University.

Litea Meo-SewabuLitea

Dr. Litea Meo-Sewabu is a lecturer and Social Work programme co-coordinator at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.  She has been in academia for the last 14 years and previously taught at Massey University in social work and development studies focusing on gender and Pacific wellbeing.  Her doctoral research explored the culturally embedded agency of Indigenous Fijian women in both Fiji and Aotearoa.

Katharine McKinnonmugshot2018-katherine-mckinnon.jpg

Dr Katharine McKinnon is a human geographer and recipient of the Tracey Banivanua Mar Senior Research Fellowship at La Trobe University. She has published extensively on postdevelopment and community economies. Her current research in Australia and the Asia-Pacific focuses on women’s economic empowerment and community based indicators of gender equality, and on the politics of childbirth and maternity care. She is also currently engaged in an Australian Research Council project ‘Mapping the impact of social enterprise on regional city disadvantage’, using spatial methodologies to investigate how social enterprises impact upon wellbeing and community capacity.

Ririn HaryaniRIRIN

Ririn Haryani was until recently Programme Officer at ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (the AHA Centre) for leadership capacity building programmes on disaster management with 10 years of experience working with development programmes post disaster in Indonesia, including United Nations agencies.  She is conducting PhD research into women leadership on disaster preparedness and response in ASEAN, drawing post development theory to explore the other forms of women leadership and participation beyond quantitative indicators set by the international development agencies and the way gender relations being continuously negotiated within the society on disaster context.

Chair: Rochelle Stewart-WithersStewart-Withers

Dr Rochelle Stewart-Withers (Te Ati Awa) is an academic with the Institute of Development Studies, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University. Rochelle has two clear threads to her research platform. The first thread investigates the way sport is used in developing countries, primarily the Pacific, to achieve social and economic goals. The second thread relates to how scholars do research with a focus on fieldwork, methodology and ethics. Rochelle is particularly interested in Indigenous understandings surrounding knowing, being and doing. Rochelle is also Chair of one of Massey University’s Human Ethics Committee. With a prior background as a clinician in the acute mental health sector Rochelle remains interested in this space and as such is a Board Member on the NZ Mental Health Foundation. Finally she is partner to Pete and mother to 5 great young people.

Plenary panel – Disaster, Disruption and Renewal

While times of disaster can be times where new power regimes are imposed, they can also be times of disruptive renewal and change from the bottom up. Our conference location in the city of Christchurch makes this vividly apparent. In this panel, a range of key post-disaster actors reflect on the theme of disruption and renewal in their contexts and experiences.

Robyn WallaceRobyn Wallace

Robyn Wallace (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Ngāti Kurī, Waitaha) is the Director – Earthquake Response & Recovery.

Following the 4 September 2010 earthquake, Robyn was elected as Chairperson for the Kaiapoi Community Board in Waimakariri District, where over 900 homes were lost and many more families affected. She advocated strongly for the community and inclusive partnerships between manawhenua, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, local and central government as key mechanisms for delivering better outcomes for whānau and community.

In 2012 following the 2011 earthquakes she was seconded from Community & Public Health to He Oranga Pounamu, the iwi-mandated organisation responsible for health and social services in Te Waipounamu, to manage key relationships and contracts.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 was a tangible expression of the Tiriti relationship and established the framework for joint leadership. Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu remain committed to the rebuild and restoration of Christchurch through strategic partnerships.

Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu appointed Robyn to this position following its response efforts to support Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura after the November 2016 earthquake and issues encountered there. A priority for Te Rūnanga is to identify areas that will assist Papatipu Rūnanga planning for future disasters and improve resilience.

Robyn has held a number of governance roles and is currently a member of the Institute of Directors NZ, Lottery Grants Board and Rata Foundation.

Sacha McMeeking1481499755630_Sacha-McMeeking-w1000

Sacha brings a serial entrepreneur’s approach to working with and for Iwi Māori. From instigating United Nations proceedings to architecting a Māori social enterprise fund and leading commercial negotiations, she is known for solution-building that meets Iwi Māori aspirations.

Before coming to UC, Sacha was the director of a boutique consultancy working with Iwi Māori in strategy development, kaupapa Māori asset management and innovation and the General Manager Strategy and influence with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, responsible for government relations on behalf of the Iwi.

Recognised as an emerging New Zealand leader, Sacha won the inaugural Fulbright Harkness Fellowship in 2010. Sacha is a change agent and compliments her varied background with a desire to support and grow the next generation of Māori scholars.

Deirdre HartDeirdre Hart, Geography, 7.1.16

Based at the University of Canterbury, Dr Deirdre Hart researches the physical, biological and human (including built environments) processes and interactions in coastal places via approaches that are multi-disciplinary by design. She works ‘disruptively’ at the boundaries between disciplines, rather than within any one core. Deirdre is passionate about coastal science, and the evolution of coastal management approaches. She has recently been at the forefront of a push to question hazard paradigms in NZ and internationally, including exploring multi-hazard approaches as the beginning of an alternative. She researches in temperate and tropical coastal and river-mouth environments around the Pacific Ocean basin.

Mark WilsonMark MJ Wilson 2018

Dr Mark M.J. Wilson specialises in supply chain management practice and research. With a Ph.D from Lincoln University, he has over 38 years industry experience in integrated supply chain systems at operational and strategic levels. Mark is currently teaching supply chain management and logistics at degree and Masters level, as well as currently supervising seven Ph.Ds and a MCM. Mark’s research has been published in international journals such at the International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, International Journal of Wine Business Research, International Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Engineering Construction and Architecture Management, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research and others. Mark is also on the editorial board of the Defence Analytics and Logistics Journal in the US. Mark is currently one of three Principle Investigators for the ‘Integrated Value Chain Project’ for the Our Land and Water theme of the National Science Challenges. Mark’s current research agenda focuses on; supply chain management theory, inter-organisational governance, complex networks, value creation and capture in agribusiness supply chain systems as well as disaster response and humanitarian logistics.

Chair: Rita Dionisio1510694264643_Rita-Dionisio-w1000

My research is focused on collaborative planning, urban regeneration, and community resilience. My research experience has been developed through projects focused on the social and environmental sustainability of neighbourhoods and cities, through engaged research. In Japan, I developed research supporting communities, affected by the 2011 Tsunami, in envisioning regeneration and recovery scenarios. This work explored community responsive urban design and environmentally appropriate planning at local and regional levels. In New Zealand, my research has focused urban modelling tools to support local government and communities to make better decisions in the Christchurch rebuild. This work encompasses a diverse range of factors, such as housing, land-use, transport, and public spaces in the city. Through a strong community and stakeholder engagement, this work has contributed to support the Christchurch City Council and Regenerate Christchurch in examining community and environmentally focused urban regeneration scenarios.


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