Thompson Rivers University

. Airini

Name: Professor . Airini
Position: Dean, Education & Social Work
Phone: 250-320-5552


To view a summary of Prof Airini's professional interests and background click here:

Airini's curriculum vitae can be viewed here: My CV

Research Interests

Airini is the Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Thompson Rivers University, BC, Canada. Concurrently, Airini is Adjunct Professor, Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia), a honorary appointment for distinction in advancing research in education, diversity and lifelong learning, and Adjunct Professor AUT University (Auckland, New Zealand). As a Fulbright Scholar at Howard University, Washington DC, Airini researched how to convert higher education policy into better results for under-served students. Airini's current research focuses on designing 21st century systems to close gaps in education success and lift social outcomes.

Airini has led strategy and policy development in OECD and developing nations, including the Cook Islands' 15-year education strategy (ECE to tertiary) (budget value NZ$112 million) and the Tongan teacher education review (budget value $9 million). Airini worked for the United Nations Education and Scientific Co-operation Organisation Paris office, as project leader for international education resource development. In 2011 Airini was invited to provide future global directions for UNESCO action in Higher Education. She was an invited editor for the UNESCO-affiliate APCEIU (Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding) based in Korea and published on international civics education. She held a Ministerial appointment to the UNESCO NZ Education Sub-Commission, and was instrumental in advancing the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (NZ). She has published on public policy development and reform for national and international contexts.

In Canada Airini provides leadership in curriculum reform at all levels. She was appointed to the BC Ministries of Education and Advanced Education's Think Tank for Personalized Learning in Graduation Years (2015). In 2016 the BC School Superintendent Association funded the first province-wide research into effective practices by senior school district leaders that Airini is co-leading (CDN$75,000).

Airini has significant education strategy and change experience. She has more than 15 years experience in senior administration roles in higher education. At TRU Airini is responsible for approximately 110 full-time and part-time Faculty members, 9000 enrolments per year, and a budget of CDN$9.3 million. Programs include teacher education, social work and human services at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and academic access programs. Since commencing (Nov 2014), Airini has led the start-up of First Nation language and culture studies, and the Indigenous student research mentoring program: Knowledge Makers (CDN$50,000). With her skilled team, ECE teacher education has been expanded to Indigenous communities to BC's rural communities (Williams Lake-4 Nations, Prince George-17 Bands) and the Faculty has secured Ministry of Education funding to co-lead with School District 73 the development of BC's first K-16 curriculum, intentionally linking schooling to university education. Further program developments include BEd specializations in Trades and Technology, and in Science, Technology and Mathematics; and the significant expansion of open access learning/distance education courses. Airini is an invited member of the governance group: the Green College Advisory Board, UBC.

Previously Airini was the founding leader for the highly regarded School of Critical Studies in Education (2008-2013) within the Faculty of Education, at NZ's highest ranked research university, The University of Auckland. Click to continue reading...


2012: Certificate, The World Bank Institute, The World Bank, Washington DC, USA. Economics of Education for Policymakers, Part 1
2011-2012: Te Ara Reo, Level 4 Certificate, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, New Zealand
2000- 2002: MBA Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
1994-1997: PhD Curriculum and Instruction, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
1989-1990: M.Ed. (Distinc.), University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
1985-1986: Dip. Tchg, Christchurch College of Education, New Zealand
1981-1985: B.A., University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


BOOKS (selected)
Stephenson, M., Carpenter, V., Duhn, I. & Airini. (Eds). (2011). Changing worlds: Critical voices and new knowledge. Auckland, New Zealand. Pearson.
Jesson, J., Carpenter, V., McLean, M., Stephenson, M. & Airini. (Eds.). (2010). University teaching reconsidered: justice, practice, inquiry. Dunmore Press. ISBN 978 1877 399 497.

CHAPTERS (Selected)
Airini., Naepi, S. (in press). A notch in my heart: University practices that help Canadian first generation student success. A.Bell & L. Santamaria. (Eds). First in the Family at university: international perspectives on first generation student experiences. NY: Bloomsbury Press.
Airini. (in press). Walking the talk for equity in universities. R.Slee (Ed). Researching pedagogy and learning. Rotterdam, Holland. Sense Publishers.
Amani Bell, A., Wolfgramm-Foliaki, E., Airini, et al. (2016). Together to the table: How to apply critical leadership in cross-cultural, international research. In L. Santamar'a & A. Santamar'a. (Eds). Applied Critical Leadership in Higher Education: Praxis promoting access, equity and improvement. NY: Routledge.
Airini. (2010). Research that creates community. In T. Huber-Warring. (2010). Storied Inquiries in International Landscapes: An anthology of educational research. Arizona, USA: IAP Inc. pp.169-170.
Airini, Toso, M., Sauni, L., Leaupepe, M., Pua, V. & Tuafuti, P. (2010). "This road belongs to me": Promising practices in distance education. In J. Jesson, V. Carpenter, M. McLean, M. Stephenson, & Airini. (Eds). University teaching reconsidered: justice, practice, inquiry. Dunmore Press. ISBN 9781877399497 (pbk.). pp.79-92.

Airini. (2017). Walking the talk. How to indigenise research. Knowledge Makers, Vol 2. pp. 52-59.
Airini. (2016). Being who we were called to be. Knowledge Makers, Vol 1.
Curtis, E., ' Airini,, Reid, P. (2015). Open to Critique: Predictive effects of academic outcomes from a bridging/foundation programme on first year degree-level study. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1087463. Published online 23 September 2015.
Airini. (2015). Education solutions for child poverty: New modalities from New Zealand. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 14:1, pp. 5-14. ISSN 2047-1734. (
Rakena, T., Airini., Brown, D. (2015). Success for all: Eroding the culture of power in the one to one teaching and learning context. International Journal of Music Education. pp. 1-14.
Airini. (2014). Equity, change, and we the university. Argos. Issue 01: The university beside itself. ISSN: 2324-5794. 111-115.
Airini. (2013). Towards equity through initial teacher education. Waikato Journal of Education, 18:1.
Airini, (2013). "Be true to one's self": Learning to be Leaders in Pasifika Education Strategy. MAI REVIEW. Special Issue: Pacific Research in Education: New Directions, pp. 95-116.
Airini., Curtis, E., Townsend, S., Rakena, T., Brown, D., Sauni, P., Smith, A., Luatua, F., Reynolds, G. & Johnson, O. (2011). Teaching for student success: Promising practices in university teaching. Pacific Asian Education. 23:1, 71-90.
Airini, Collings, S., Conner, L., McPherson, K., Midson, B. & Wilson, C. (2010). Learning to be leaders in higher education: What helps or hinders women's advancement as leaders in universities. Journal of Educational Management Administration & Leadership 39: 1, 44-62.

Employment History

2014: Full Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia, Canada

20013-2016: Adjunct Professor, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia: Honorary appointment at the rank of full professor to the Victoria Institute (
2014-2017: Adjunct Professor, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand: Honorary appointment at the rank of full professor (

2014: Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland
2008-2013: Head of School, Critical Studies in Education (CRSTIE), Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland. Establishment and inaugural Head
2004-2013: Principal Lecturer, Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland
2011-2012: Principal Advisor, Pasifika, Tertiary Education Commission (Secondment. Dec 2011- July 2012) as New Zealand's lead advisor on Pasifika tertiary education investment.
2004-2007: Associate Dean, Equity, Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland
2004-2005: International Consultancies Director, NZAID, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (a) Project Director (part-time), Cook Islands 15-Year Education Strategy (2006-2020) development. Government budget value: NZ$112 million. (b) Project Director (part-time), review of Tonga Teacher Education (2005-2015). Government budget value: NZ$9 million.
2001-2004: General Manager, Pasifika Development, Auckland College of Education
2000-2001: Senior Policy Analyst, New Zealand Ministry of Education
1989-91; 1992-95; 1997-1999: Lecturer (fulltime), Christchurch College of Education, Christchurch, New Zealand
1990-91; 1998- 1999: Lecturer (part-time), University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
1996: Substitute teacher (Art), Breens Road Intermediate School, Christchurch
1995: Outdoor education instructor (part-time): Paparoa Men's Prison Group, Rolleston, New Zealand; Women's Prison Group, Department of Justice, Canterbury, New Zealand.
1994-1995: Research Assistant, Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction,
Faculty of Education, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
1994: Visiting Scholar, Vaxjo University, Department of Teacher Education, Vaxjo, Sweden
1993-94: Visiting Lecturer, Sonoda Gakuen College, Japan, at Christchurch College of Education, Christchurch
1987-1991: Teacher (fulltime), Manning Intermediate School, Christchurch

2014: Fulbright Scholar Award: To identify what helps the conversion of education policy into results, for under-served students. Based in Washington DC, USA, at Howard University.
2013: Commendation for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland.
2012: New Zealand Association of Research in Education National Award: Group Research (
2011: Inaugural Pacific Senior Manager Leadership Development award (Min. of Pacific Island Affairs and State Services Commission with Ako Aotearoa. Value: $15,000).
2010: Excellence in Equity Award, The University of Auckland. For outstanding achievements in supporting the organisation's equity objectives, and innovation in implementing equity. Presented bi-annually.
2007: Excellence in Equal Opportunities Award Special Commendation. The University of Auckland.
2007: New Zealand Women in Leadership Award, New Zealand Vice Chancellors' Committee.
2006: Pasifika Excellence Award: Research in Education. The University of Auckland, Faculty of Education.
1995-1997: Social Science & Humanities Research Council Award, Canada (full fees & bursary scholarship).

Courses Taught

In addition to supervision at doctoral and masters levels, and course and qualification development/accreditation, Airini's teaching related activities have included the following courses:

1. Adult education and learning
2. Issues in Education

1. Principles and practices of lifelong learning
2. Educational policy and organisations
3. Critical research methodologies in education

Professional Affiliations

Canadian Society for the Study of Education
European Council for Educational Research
International Vocational Education and Training Association
New Zealand Association of Research in Education


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