Driven to create a better life for all Pacific people
TAGALOATELE Peggy FairbairnDunlop is one of the Pacific’s leading researchers on subjects ranging from youth and gender to sustainable development.
The professor of Pacific Studies at AUT was formally recognised for her decades of work in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours.
Fairbairn-Dunlop was made a Companion of the New Zealand order of Merit for her services to education and the Pacific community.
It’s her second award after she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 for services to research on families.
The mother-of-five says she was surprised and humbled to have been recognised again.
‘‘It was good to get because it was recognition of Pacific contribution to the making of New Zealand society or community,’’ she says.
Fairbairn-Dunlop lives in Sandringham and has spent decades researching, teaching and advocating for Pasifika issues.
‘‘What motivates me always is the Pacific people and a drive for a better quality of life for Pacific people whether in New Zealand or in the homelands,’’ she says.
This is linked to better education and educational policies, she says.
Fairbairn-Dunlop became New Zealand’s first professor of Pacific studies in 2009 and is the first person to hold a Pacific chair at a New Zealand University.
She is based at AUT’s Manukau campus and says her aim is to The research our Pacific students are doing is quite excellent and making a real contribution increase the number postgraduate students.
‘‘I’m very proud of all my master and PhD research students which are coming through,’’ she says.
‘‘The research that our Pacific students are doing is quite excellent and making a real contribution to community and family development in New Zealand.’’
Fairbairn-Dunlop was elected national president of PACIFICA in 2013. It is an organisation that helps Pacific Island women to participate in public life with more than 20 branches around the country.
Fairbairn-Dunlop, who finished her presidential term last month, has helped increase Pacific involvement in early childhood education and established a branch of the organisation at AUT’s Manukau Campus.
Before she retires she wants to invest in the future of Pacific research.
‘‘My main aim is to support the next generation and bringing through the next tier or layer of Pacific scholars.’’