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Prof Paul

One of New Zealand’s leading social scientists


Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley is one of New Zealand’s leading social scientists with an extensive background in research on social and demographic change.

Current role

In 2022, Professor Spoonley was appointed as Co-Director of He Whenua Taurikura: The National Centre for Countering Violent Extremism. He also over sees and advises on research for the Police Commissioner, is a Board Member of Auckland Museum and is Chair of the Marsden Fund, which provides funding for blue-skies research in New Zealand.


He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011 and was appointed Distinguished Professor by Massey University in 2013. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow at the University of California Berkeley in 2010, has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany, since 2013 and was awarded the Science and Technology Medal from the Royal Society for his contribution to cross-cultural understanding.


Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley has degrees from Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Otago, University of Auckland, Bristol University and Massey University. He was Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University until he stood down in 2019.

He has led research projects on the changing nature of work, immigration and the impacts of diversity, the changing demography of New Zealand and the nature of political and ideological extremism, both locally and internationally.

He is the author or editor of 29 books, including The New New Zealand. Facing Demographic Disruption (2021), Welcome to our World : Immigration and the Reshaping of New Zealand (2012) and the Histories of Hate. The Radical Right in Aotearoa New Zealand (2023).

As a speaker, Paul brings an immense knowledge of trends and social change with an easily understood approach to complex contemporary issues. He can speak on the changing demography of New Zealand and what the country will look like in the 2030s, the impacts of immigration and the implications for how New Zealanders live and work, including the impacts of diversity on sports, cities and regions, food and the workforce, the changing nature of work and the importance of ethnic and cultural identity.

Paul is a keen kayaker and biker, watches the progress of Liverpool FC with a passion and relaxes on his orchard in Hawkes Bay.

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