Dr Rochelle Stewart-Withers (Te AtiAwa) is the current Head of Programme for Development Studies at Massey University, having taken over the role from Professor Regina Scheyvens at the end of 2019. Prior to academia Rochelle was a Registered Nurse (Mental Health) and it was this nursing background and time spent in developing countries, alongside her growing interest in the development industry and humanitarian space, which saw her move from nursing to Development Studies. In 2007 she completed a PhD in Development Studies with Massey University. Her first post-PhD academic position was with the School of Social Sciences at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Rochelle re-joined the Development Studies team in 2009.
Rochelle has two clear threads to her research platform. The first thread investigates the way sport is used in developing countries, and with Indigenous populations, to achieve social and economic goals and bring about social justice. The second thread relates to how scholars do research and this can be seen through her outputs on fieldwork, methodology and ethics. Her work here has a particularly strong influence on developing post-graduate researchers. Rochelle also sits on the national board of the NZ Mental Health Foundation.