Ocean Mercier


Ngāti Porou


BSc(Hons), PhD (Physics)


Associate Professor Ocean Mercier is the Tumuaki/Head of School of Te Kawa a Māui/School of Māori Studies. Her key research focus is how mātauranga and science connect and relate, particularly in educational and environmental contexts. Her current research includes understanding how te taiao advocacy connects communities to place; ocean knowledge to support iwi interests; understanding groundwater with mātauranga and Māori perceptions of novel biotechnological controls of pest wasps in Aotearoa. Her research also explores Māori and Indigenous conceptions of mapping and place, and kaupapa Māori reading of films. She is the presenter of Māori Television's Project Mātauranga and presents for TVNZ’s Coast.

Current research projects

  • He Papa Moana (MBIE Endeavour): a cross-cultural ocean knowledge platform supporting iwi interests, with MetService and Moninya Roughan
  • Te Whakaheke o te Wai (MBIE Endeavour): understanding and better managing freshwater water flows with mātauranga ā-iwi, with GNS Science and Catherine Moore
  • Community connections to place (Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga) with Anne-Marie Jackson
  • Social and cultural perceptions of novel biotechnological controls of pest wasps (National Science Challenge: Our Biological Heritage), with Prof. Phil Lester
  • Indigenous knowledge(s) and science in global contexts, with Dr Beth Leonard, University of Alaska, Anchorage
  • A critical Indigenous toponomy approach to Māori street names in Australia
  • Student learning and engagement in the Te Kawa a Māui Atlas

Other research interests

  • The interface between mātauranga Māori and science
  • Cultural mapping and digital media in documenting local knowledge and diversifying the tertiary education experience
  • Kaupapa Māori readings of film, Taika Waititi's films
  • Māori in limited-time film, especially the 48 Hour Film-making Competition
  • Use of locally relevant 'cultural context' in science resources, especially Te Whata Kura Ahupungao
  • Indigenous academic experience.

Achievements and awards

  • Callaghan Medal (Royal Society—Te Apārangi), 2019
  • NZ Association of Scientists’ Lucy Cranwell science communicator award, 2017
  • Nomination for Australia and New Zealand Internet Award (ANZIA) for the Te Kawa a Māui Atlas, 2013
  • Nomination for Māori of the Year (Science), 2012
  • Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award, 2012
  • Victoria University Teaching Excellence Award, 2011
  • Māori Academic Achievement Award in Physics, Inaugural Recipient, 2002

Postgraduate supervision

Completed PhDs

  • William Franco
  • Ewan Pohe
  • Philip Best
  • Meegan Hall
  • Dennis Ngawhare
  • Parehau Richards
  • Elizabeth Kerekere

Completed Masters

  • Symon Palmer
  • Acushla Deanne O'Carroll
  • Sarsha Leigh Douglas

Currently (2019) supervising five PhD students and two Masters students.

Selection of publications

  • Mercier OR, King Hunt A and Lester P 2019. Novel biotechnologies for eradicating wasps: seeking Māori studies students perspectives with Q Method Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences
  • O. Ripeka Mercier 2018. Mātauranga and Science. NZ Science Review. 74(4):83-90
  • Dearden PK, Gemmell NJ, Mercier OR, Lester PJ, Scott MJ, Newcomb RD, Buckley TR, Jacobs JME, Goldson SG, Penman DR 2017. The potential for the use of gene drives for pest control in New Zealand: a perspective. Journal of the Royal Society of NZ.
  • O. Ripeka Mercier and Beth Leonard, 2018. 'Indigenous Knowledge(s) and the Sciences in Global Contexts: Bringing Worlds Together.' in Elizabeth Ann McKinley and Linda Tuhiwai Smith (ed.s) Handbook of Indigenous Education. Singapore: Springer
  • O. Ripeka Mercier, 2017. 'Bringing the "Trickster wasp" into the discourse on biotechnological controls of "pest wasps". MAI Journal: A New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship. 6(1):74-81.
  • O. Ripeka Mercier and Arama Rata, 2016. 'Drawing the Line with Google Earth: the Place of Digital Mapping Outside of Geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. ISSN: 0309-8265
  • Beth Leonard and Ocean Mercier, 2016. 'Indigenous Struggles Within the Colonial Project: Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledges in the Western Academy'. Knowledge Cultures. 4(3): 99-116.
  • Ocean Ripeka Mercier, 2014. 'Film sport: Constraint and unrestraint in the 48-Hour Film Competition'. New Cinemas Journal of Contemporary Film. 12(3): 191-204.
  • Beth Leonard and Ocean Mercier, 2014. 'Shaping Indigenous Spaces in Higher Education: An International Virtual Exchange on Indigenous Knowledge (Alaska and Aotearoa)'. Canadian Journal of Native Education. 37(1): 218-238.
  • O. Ripeka Mercier, Megan Douglas, Darcel Rickard, Orlando Stewart, Scotty Morrison and Daniel Apiata, 2014. 'Project Mātauranga - Our Science On-Screen.' In Taiarahia Black (ed) Enhancing Mātauranga Māori and Global Indigenous Knowledge. Wellington: NZQA
  • O. Ripeka Mercier and Challen Wilson, 2013. Everybody’s Putting Their Heart and Soul into that One Weekend’: Six motivations for entering the 48-hour film competition. Studies in Australasian Cinema. 7(1): 61-76.
  • O. Ripeka Mercier, Sarsha Douglas, Meegan Hall, Bruce McFadgen, Peter Adds, Maria Bargh, Tahu Wilson (2013). ‘Promoting Engagement Through A Student-Built School-Wide Digital Atlas Of Maori Studies.’ In Laura Wankel and Patrick Blessinger (ed.s) Improving Student Engagement and Retention using Multimedia Technologies: Video Annotation, Multimedia Applications, Videoconferencing and Transmedia Storytelling.
  • Mercier O Ripeka. 'Alamein’s Encore: Entertainment, Information, Reflection and Intimacy in the DVD Commentary of Boy.' New Zealand Journal of Media Studies. 13(1): 29-39 (2012) Print Version Available here: Alamein's Encore pdf198KB
  • O. Ripeka Mercier, Nathan Stevens, Anaru Toia. 'Mātauranga Māori And The DIKW Hierarchy: A Conversation On Interfacing Knowledge Systems.' MAI Journal: A New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship. 1(2):103-116 (2012).
  • Mercier, O.R., Asmar, C., Page, S. 'An Academic Occupation: Mobilisation, Sit-in, Speaking Out and Confrontation in the Experiences of Māori Academics. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. 40(11): 81-91 (2011).
  • O. Ripeka Mercier. ‘Welcome to My Interesting World’: Powhiri Styled Encounter in Boy. Illusions: NZ Moving Image and Performing Arts Criticism. Winter 42:3-7 (2010).
  • Mercier, O.R., '5,6,7,8, Don't You Blinkin' Obfuscate', in Terror in Our Midst? Searching for Terror in Aotearoa New Zealand, edited by Danny Keenan (Wellington: Huia, 2008), pp. 239-244.
  • Mercier, O.R., 'Indigenous knowledge and science. A new representation of the interface between Indigenous and Eurocentric ways of knowing', He Pukenga Korero, 8, 2, (2007), pp. 20-28.
  • Mercier, O.R., Buckley, R.G., Trodahl, H.J., Bernhard, C., Balakrishnan, B.G., 'Low energy excitations in La1.2Sr1.8Mn2O7. Investigated by Ellipsometry', Physical Review B, 72 (2005), 2144370-1.5.
  • Mercier, O.R., Hunter, M.W., Callaghan, P.T., 'Brine diffusion in first year sea ice measured by Earth's field PGSE - NMR', Cold Regions Science and Technology, 42, December (2005), pp.96-105.

Current responsibilities