State of Australasian Cities Conference 2023
Pacific Futures: Australasian Cities in Transition
6 - 8 December Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand

Kia ora koutou, nau mai, haere mai - Welcome

In 2023, the biennial SOAC will be held for the first time in its 20 year history in Aotearoa New Zealand, hosted by Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington in partnership with all universities across the motu and an Indigenous Caucus.

The State of Australasian Cities conference is the flagship event of the Australasian Cities Research Network and provides a supportive forum for urban researchers, policy makers, practitioners, academics and students to meet and share and discuss research related to Australasian cities.

Read a reflection about SOAC 2023 in an ArchitectureNow article.

Pacific Futures: Australasian Cities in Transition

SOAC 2023 considers the future identity of Australasian cities in relation to indigenous communities, trans-Tasman networks, and the wider Asia-Pacific.

Seen in this context there is a need to revitalise indigenous knowledges, confront colonial legacies, and support inclusive, progressive city identities more explicitly linked to our place in the world. Key challenges include established themes such as social inequality, demographic shifts, population mobility, infrastructure, the growing housing crisis and climate change. These are overlaid by the fall-out from the Covid pandemic which is forcing a rethink about what matters, and is also initiating new forms of urban living and being. For people with deep ancestral roots in Aotearoa and Australia, those currently living in Australasian cities, and people in the wider Asia-Pacific, cities will remain key sites of connection. But many city-dwellers are also integrally linked to rural communities, regional towns and island nations where scale and complexity are vastly different, with further implications for changing demographic, economic and cultural processes. Responding to these intertwined urban futures also means recognising that Australasia cities and communities are increasingly ‘living on the edge’, with coastal adaptation and development, disaster preparedness and the growing instability of biological and environmental systems placing new stresses on living and demanding new ways of framing life. SOAC 2023 will examine our indigenous, trans-Tasman and Asia-Pacific futures, exploring the transitions and transformations necessary for creating cities and communities that respond to Australasian challenges and reflect our distinctive geographies.

Conference Tracks

City Economies ~ City Governance ~ City Health and Liveability ~ City Housing ~ City Movement and Infrastructure ~
City Nature and Environment ~ City Cultures ~ City Design ~ Reckoning with Settler Colonial Cities

View the conference programme and the conference handbook and the book of abstracts

Conference principles & logo design narrative

~ watch the conference video ~

Keynote speakers

A/Prof Emma Power

Western Sydney University

Emma Power is an Associate Professor of urban geography in the School of Social Sciences and Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her ‘Cities of Care’ research programme develops insights into the caring potential of cities, asking how the capacity of people to meet their needs for care and to live a good life can be better supported within cities and through the broader housing and welfare systems. Current research brings focus to older people’s housing insecurity, how income support recipients make ends meet, the social value of co-operative housing, and heat adaptation in social housing in the context of climate change. Emma is an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Housing Policy and co-founder of the Housing Journal Podcast.

A/Prof Rhys Jones

University of Auckland

Dr Rhys Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu) is a Public Health Physician and Associate Professor in Māori Health at the University of Auckland. He has a leadership role in Māori health teaching and learning in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. His research addresses Indigenous health and health equity, in particular examining environmental influences on Māori health and wellbeing. He is a passionate advocate for health equity, Indigenous rights and climate justice. Rhys was the founding Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, and is Co-director of Climate Health Aotearoa, a national climate change and health research network.

A/Prof Crystal Legacy

University of Melbourne

Crystal Legacy is Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia where she is also the Co-Director of the Informal Urbanism Research Hub. She resides on Wurundjeri Country where she writes, teaches and works with communities on issues related to urban transport politics, public participation and the post-political city. She publishes in a range of academic journals, provides critical commentary in local and national media outlets, and works in solidarity with a range of community-based groups seeking climate just outcomes in transport planning. Crystal is on the Editorial Board of two journals Planning Theory and Practice and Urban Policy and Research and is the inaugural co-chair of the Australasian Early Career Urban Research Network.

Councillor Tamatha Paul

Wellington City Council

Tamatha Paul (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pukeko, Tainui) is a City Councillor, first elected as a 22-year old rangatahi Māori in 2019. Tamatha chairs the Wellington City Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee and recently completed her Masters, focussing on public housing.

Dame Sue Bagshaw

Te Korowai Youth Wellbeing Trust

Dame Sue Bagshaw works as a primary care doctor specialising in youth health at a one stop shop (YOSS) community youth health centre for 10-25 year olds, which she helped to set up, under a trust called Korowai Youth Well-being Trust. She is working with others to set up a Youth Hub of services, recreation, creativity and transition housing. She is a senior lecturer in adolescent health in the department of Paediatrics at the Christchurch School of Medicine, and she is an educator with the Collaborative Trust (a research and training centre for youth health and development, which she also helped to set up). She has served as the President of the International Association of Adolescent Health and organised many international Youth Health Conferences. She has 4 adult children and 7 mokopuna and despite being born in Hong Kong doesn’t look a bit Chinese.

Prof Bruce Clarkson

University of Waikato

Professor Bruce Clarkson ONZM is recognised as one of New Zealand’s foremost authorities on ecological restoration, making significant contributions to conservation through his ongoing research, education, protection, and restoration of native plants and ecosystems over a 40-year career. Since 2016 he has led ‘People, Cities and Nature’, a research programme focusing on restoring damaged or depleted indigenous ecosystems in urban environments. The multidisciplinary research programme with researchers from across New Zealand is built upon the concept that restored urban centres help reverse biodiversity decline while also providing sustainable, health-promoting, and resilient environments for people. His research has guided biodiversity and restoration projects including the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park and Hamilton’s Gully Restoration Programme and Nature in the City Strategy, and he has contributed to many other North Island conservation and restoration projects. He is the elected Chair of the Australasian Chapter of the International Society of Restoration Ecology and a member, by appointment of the Minister of Conservation, of the Interim Oversight Group for the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and the Wildlife Act Review Strategic Oversight Group.


There will be a Mana Whenua Panel, Research Policy Impact Panel, Women in Urban Research Panel and ECR Plenary Panel. We are excited to announce the folliwing panellists

Kara Puketapu-Dentice

Hutt City Council

Kara has held various senior roles in the public service and private sector which have focused on improving outcomes for Māori. Kara holds a Masters of Planning and Resource Management from the University of Otago and since then has worked in the areas of strategy, policy, environmental management, housing, and iwi governance. Kara is currently the Director of Economy and Development at Hutt City Council. In this role he is responsible for housing, community assets and facilities, transport, urban development, business and economy, as well as significant transformational projects such as ‘RiverLink’ which will be a game changer for the future growth and prosperity of Hutt City. Kara was born and raised in Wainuiomata and is of Te Āti Awa and Ngāi Tūhoe descent.

Helmut Karewa Modlik

Ngāti Toa Rangatira

Helmut is an experienced director, executive and consultant with specialist skills in strategic planning, new venture creation and change management. Began his professional career in accounting and finance, branching into economic development and management consulting upon completion of an MBA in 1991. Helmut has been chief executive of various commercial enterprises experiencing growth, turnaround, merger, or other strategic change. He is passionate about the social and economic development of Māori

Rawiri Faulkner

Ngāti Toa Rangatira

Rawiri is an experienced Senior Executive Leader, having held senior roles in Local Government and Crown Agencies. Rawiri is currently employed by Ngāti Toa Rangatira as Pou Toa Matarau (Environment, Treaty Settlement and Culture) based in Porirua. He is also an experienced Hearing Commissioner having served on a number of consent hearings, plan reviews and fast track consents.Along with his wife Linda, Rawiri has also worked with a number of iwi developing strategic plans and government procurement applications. Rawiri brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role as Pou Toa Matarau for the Ahurea Taiao Team at Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Inc.

Maualaivao Ueligitone Sasagi (Ueli)

NZPI and Sasagi Planning & Development

Ueli has over 35 years of experience in resource management and planning in New Zealand and the Pacific. He has spent many years working on resource management functions as a statutory and policy planner for several local authorities and the public sector in New Zealand. Ueli is currently serving as Director of the New Zealand Planning Institute Board and managing his planning consultancy business under the name Sasagi Planning & Development (SPD) Consulting Limited. He worked as a Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Transport assisting in the development of its policy position on the Resource Management Act Phase II Reform; reviewed the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (NZCPS); National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF); and the National Policy Statement Biodiversity.

Dr Wendy Saunders

Toka Tū Ake EQC

Dr Wendy Saunders is a Principal Advisor for Risk Reduction and Resilience at Toka Tū Ake EQC, and their Champion of Land Use Planning. Through this role, and her previous role as a social scientist at GNS Science, she has experience in translating research into policy and then planning practice; has come up against the research/policy challenges; and more recently through a secondment to Ministry for the Environment, has been involved in using evidence to inform policy development for natural hazards and risks. Wendy has had to negiotate all sides of the research/policy/practice interface, with associated career highs and lows.

Dr Farzad Zamani

Wellington City Council

Dr Farzad Zamani is the Urban Regeneration and Design Manager at Wellington City Council. He is from the Qashqai tribe, a nomadic tribe in Iran. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture in Iran before moving to the UK to complete his Masters. After years of working as an architect in the UK, he moved to Aotearoa New Zealand to do his PhD in Urban Design at the University of Auckland. As part of his research, he analysed the relationship and the conflict between people, power structures and city designers. While studying, he also lectured at the Architecture school there before shifting into private practice again, this time as an urban designer. Three years ago, he moved to Wellington to take up the role of Design Review Team Leader and now he feels at home in Wellington, almost patriotically, and he is interested in housing design, civic and public realm design, democratising design processes and urban regeneration.

A/Prof Dallas Rogers

University of Sydney

Dallas is Head of Urbanism in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. He works on the colonial and contemporary politics of land, housing, property and urban development. His research spans urban and historical geography with a focus on the intersections of race, class, nature, technology and capital. Dallas’ contemporary scholarship includes three ARC studies: Digital Technologies and the Private Rental Sector in Australia, with Dr Sophia Maalsen, Dr Peta Wolifson and A/Prof Desiree Fields; Inequality in Australia: Housing in the Asset Society, with Profs Lisa Adkins and Martijn Konings; and The University and the City, with Profs Donald McNeill and Mark Tewdwr-Jones. Dallas’ historical scholarship includes several projects on Mapping the Private Property Frontier in Australia with Prof Andrew Leach, Dr Laurence Troy, A/Prof Amelia Thorpe and Dr Jasper Ludewig. Dallas is a radio-maker and produces radio features for ABC Radio National, amongst others radio and podcast projects.

Wayne Knox

Te Matapihi

Wayne Knox is a proud descendant of Waikato, and brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion to the Māori Housing space. After completing a Bachelor of Architecture (hons) in 1999, Wayne held various leadership and senior advisory roles in both the Public and Iwi Sectors. He was the Māori Relationships Manager at Waitakere City Council, Executive Officer for northern Tainui iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki, and an inaugural member of the Independent Māori Statutory Board. Wayne joined Te Matapihi he Tirohanga mō te Iwi Trust (Te Matapihi) in 2017 as the Lead Advisor for Policy and Engagement, and in 2019 was appointed as General Manager. Te Matapihi was born out of a call to action at the inaugural National Māori Housing Conference in 2010, and now stands as the National Peak Body for Māori Housing. The charitable trust advocates for Māori housing outcomes at a national level, offers an independent voice for the Māori housing sector, assists in Māori housing policy development and supports the growth of the Māori housing sector by providing advice, facilitating collaboration and sharing high-quality resources and information.

Lucy Tupu

Te Herenga Waka

Lucy Tupu was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. Her father, Lani Tupu (Tuioti), is Samoan and her Kiwi mother, Beryl, is of English and Scottish descent. She lived and worked in New York, where she built a home for herself as a designer and artist for the past 17 years. She received a Bachelor of Design degree in Industrial Design, graduating with honors from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. After gaining years of work experience, she decided to open her own design studio and exhibited at ICFF in NY launching her first collection named ‘South Pacific’. It was a collection of rugs and furniture inspired by her strong Polynesian and South Pacific heritage and growing up in the 70’s which also informs her aesthetic. So for the past seven years she has been building her business working closely with interior designers and architects on both residential and commercial projects. There was a silver lining that came out of the pandemic which was a unique opportunity for Lucy to visit her family in New Zealand for a four-month stay. The fact that her design studio survived that year without the need for a physical showroom, combined with her ability to keep it running from two continents, made her realize, not only was it possible, but that it was the right time to expand her design studio’s footprint into Aotearoa, New Zealand. This is what led to her decision to return, to open a second space and accept a full-time role teaching Interior Architecture at Te Herenga Waka.

Jade Kake

Matakohe Architecture and Urbanism; AUT

Nō Ngāpuhi a Jade Kake ki te taha o tōna māmā. Nō Hōrana ia ki te taha o tōna pāpā. Ko ia te kaihautū o Matakohe Hoahoanga me Tōpū Pā, he taupuni hoahoa kei Whangārei. Ko ēnei āna tino kaupapa e aro ana - ko te purenga ihomatua o te hoahoanga me te hoahoa tāone, te whakatū anō i ngā papakāinga Māori, me te whakawhanaketanga o ngā hātepe hoahoa ki te whakamana i te rangatiratanga o ngā hapū. Whakaako hangere ai ia i te kura o Huri Te Ao ki Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makaurau, ā, he mema ia o te Taumata Hoahoa Tāone o Tāmaki Makaurau. Jade Kake is from Ngāpuhi, Te Whakatōhea and Te Arawa on her mother’s side. She is of Dutch descent through her father. She is the leader and founder of Matakohe Architecture and Urbanism, a kaupapa Māori design studio in Whangārei. Her main interests are the decolonisation of architecture and urban design, the growth and re-establishment of papakāinga, and the development of design methods to support the sovereignty of hapū. She is also a part-time lecturer at Huri Te Ao, the School of Future Environments at AUT, and a member of the Auckland Urban Design Panel.

Dr Victoria Chanse

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Victoria Chanse is the Landscape Architecture Programme Director and a Senior Lecturer at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Her work focuses on community-based approaches to develop local responsive designs that consider community needs and landscape changes under different scenarios of sea level rise, flooding and stormwater management. Past and current projects have faced critical environmental concerns: design and planning adaptations to sea level change, the use of green infrastructure in addressing stormwater issues, and engaging communities in addressing both equity and environmental problems.

A/Prof Kelly Dombroski

Massey University

Associate Professor Kelly Dombroski is a Rutherford Fellow and feminist geographer based at Massey University. She is co-editor of the Handbook of Diverse Economies, and recently released Huritanga: Ten years of transformative place-making with Life in Vacant Spaces. She works in partnership with community groups, social and solidarity enterprises, and community researchers aiming to foster transitions to postcapitalist economies in Asia Pacific. She is a key researcher in the Huritanga Urban Wellbeing programme of Building Better Homes Towns and Cities.

Elle Davidson

The University of Sydney

Elle Davidson is a Balanggarra woman from the East Kimberley and descendant of Captain William Bligh, and describes herself as being caught in the cross-winds of Australia’s history. With a passion to empower the voices of First Nations People, Elle combines her Town Planning and Indigenous Engagement qualifications to shape our places and spaces. Through her approach, she creates a strong platform for Aboriginal voices in the planning process and builds allies to advocate for community. She is the Director of Zion Engagement and Planning, an Aboriginal training and consulting business and an Aboriginal Planning Lecturer at University of Sydney.

Dr Ashraful (Ash) Alam

University of Otago

Dr Ashraful (Ash) Alam is a Senior Lecturer in Planning at the University of Otago, where he coordinates the nationally renowned Master of Planning Programme. Ash is interested in migrant housing politics in cities in Australia, New Zealand, and South Asia. Ash frequently uses experimental user-centred approaches to examine marginalised and more-than-human dimensions of urban space. Ash is the New Zealand lead for a study funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada SSHRC to investigate the migrant retention capacities of small and rural towns in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Vehia Wheeler

Australian National University

Vehia Wheeler is a child of Moana Nui a Hiva. Born and raised in Hawai’i, and with ancestral roots to the islands of Mo’orea and Mangareva, in the South Pacific, Vehia’s upbringing has instilled a passion for thriving island environments and cultures. Her University background is focused on Pacific Environmental Planning from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She has done research with the University of Hawai’i, the University of French Polynesia, the State of Hawai’i, and has worked with environmental non-profits over the years before starting her own, SOS Mo’orea.

Dr Naama Blatman

Western Sydney University

Naama is a Research Fellow for the Urban Living Futures & Society Theme at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, and an Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2020-2023). Her research applies collaborative, archival, and ethnographic methods with Indigenous communities to probe the histories, realities, and possible futures of settler colonial cities in Australia and Israel/Palestine. Taking Indigenous sovereignty as a starting point, she examines key sites of city-making contestation, such as housing and property development, Indigenous land rights politics and incarceration. Naama’s work illustrates that settler colonial cities are shaped by both highly localised and global processes.

Key dates

May 2023 - Abstract acceptance notification
June 2023 - Programme available
31 October 2023 - Optional: 5,000 word article submission deadline (Peter Harrison Prizes / SOAC 2023 UPR special issue)
3 - 5 December 2023 - Pre-conference postgraduate Symposium
5 December 2023 - Field trips and pre-conference networking event
6 - 8 December 2023 - SOAC Conference


The conference will run over 3 days from 6 to 8 December, with a pre-conference PhD Symposium on 3-5 December 2023.

PhD Symposium



Peter Harrison Prizes and UPR special issue

Field trips


Registration fees include: Access to keynotes and all conference sessions, catering, the conference dinner and pre-conference networking event.

Fees are in New Zealand dollars and include 15% GST. Registration cut off dates are New Zealand Standard Time.

We have tailored support packages available for Indigenous participants. Please get in touch with us for more information:

Masters and PhD students with an accepted abstract at the PhD Symposium or main conference can apply for an ACRN travel bursary. More information in the 'PhD Symposium' section below.

Registration Type Fees
Early Bird * $525
Standard $600
Student/unwaged Early Bird * $125
Student/unwaged $175
Day Registration** $250
Online registration $500
Student online registration $125

* Early bird ends midnight 30 July 2023.
** Day registration does not include the conference dinner

Registration is now closed. For online registration until Dec 4 please email

For payment- related inquiries (e.g. payment confirmation, changes to your registration) please email our finance team at, referencing SOAC 2023. Note: Full refund until 30th July less a $10 registration fee. No refund after 30th July.


The conference will be hosted by Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University Wellington (Kelburn campus).

Conference venue

Pōneke Wellington

Aotearoa New Zealand

Conference committee

The conference is a pan-Aotearoa effort, organised by 3 co-chairs, a local organising committee and an Indigenous Caucus.

Dr Mirjam Schindler

Dr Mirjam Schindler

Lecturer in Human Geography, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Becky Kiddle

Dr Becky Kiddle

Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi, Director Te Manawahoukura, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

Prof Iain White

Prof Iain White

Prof in Environmental Planning, University of Waikato

Local Organising Committee: Sepideh Afsari Bajestani, Claire Freeman, Imran Muhammad, Mathew Bradbury, Sandra-Lee Ringham, James Berghan, Tom Baker, Ashraful Alam, Xinyu Fu, Robyn Phipps, Ruth Berry, Roy Mongomery.

Indigenous Caucus: Sandra-Lee Ringham, James Berghan, Diane Menzies, Robin Quigg, Lena Henry, Joshuga Ambler, Emily Campbell, Georgina Stokes, Jen Archer-Martin, Shayna-Lucy Curle, Nat Perkins, Dave Hakaraia, Bobby Luke, Matthew Scobie, April Bennett.