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Prof Robyn Munford staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 83513

Prof Robyn Munford MSW, BSW(H), PhD


School of Social Work

Please go to the School of Social Work website and youthsay.co.nz for more detailed information on research and publications.

Professor of Social Work. Key areas of interest are: social and community work practice, theory and research; community development; disability; strengths and citizenship approaches; reflective practice; children, youth and families; family support and wellbeing; bicultural frameworks; research methodologies; action research; and, strategies for translating research findings into practice. The focus of Robyn's work over the last three decades has been on working with practitioners in a range of social service agencies and community settings to provide learning opportunities that enable practitioners to develop innovative approaches to practice with individuals, families and communities.

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  • Master of Social Work - University of Calgary (1983)
  • Bachelor of Social Work - Massey University (1978)
  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey University (1989)

Prizes and Awards

  • Our international research collaboration (researchers from Europe, North America, NZ) has been accepted by the international organisation WERA (World Education Research Association) as an IRN (International Research Network) (https://www.weraonline.org/page/IRNsThematic). The research is on children living in challenging contexts and highlights the importance of holistic and contextually embedded services in supporting good outcomes. The research points to the value of strong communities in facilitating such outcomes. Schools are a constant resource situated in the lives of children, so the research will explore how schools can meaningfully re-establish communities of care, facilitating better outcomes for children. On the 2 July I was invited by Dr Liebenberg to sit on an expert committee for The International Community Development and Resilience Consortium (ICDRC) ’s Communities of Care WERA IRN (https://www.weraonline.org/news/news.asp?id=455380&hhSearchTerms=%22Liebenberg%22). I accepted this invitation. - WERA (2019)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Robyn is the Professor of Social Work in the School of Social Work, Massey University, New Zealand. She is the Director of the Practice Research and Professional Development Hub which offers learning opportunities for practitioners and supports practitioners to work alongside researchers to investigate practice in a range of community settings and social service agencies. Robyn has qualifications in social work, disability studies and sociology. In 2002 Robyn was awarded an ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to research and education in social work. Robyn is the co-leader of the New Zealand site of an international, longitudinal study on young people's pathways to resilience and transitions funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (www.youthsay.co.nz). This research has generated several publications in national and international journals,  book chapters and technical reports. The Youthsay website contains important information for policy makers, practitioners and educators. An important outcome of the research is the development of a framework for practice: The PARTH model,an orientation to practice with vulnerable young people that enables practitioners to provide  interventions that can more effectively respond to the complex needs of these youth. The model has been developed (in parrtnership with Youthline) into an online module for outh workers and into a three day workshop in partnership with Kapiti Youth Support (KYS). In additnio to these major MBIE funded ersearch projects,  Robyn has also  undertakes research on family and community wellbeing; children and young people; social work theory and practice; disability and citizenship approaches; community development and research methodologies. She has published nationally and internationally on this research. Her particular interest is working with practitioners to translate research findings into practice in statutory, NGOs and community settings. She has been on the editorial boards of several international journals and for 10 years has been the co-editor of Qualitative Social Work: Research and Practice. She has held a number of service roles and has for a number of years been an Adjunct Professor in the disability studies programme at York University, Canada. She particularly enjoys the supervision of postgraduate PhD and Masters students and in 2006 was awarded the Massey University Research Medal for postgraduate research supervision.


Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Social Change (160805): Social Theory (160806): Social Work (160700): Sociological Methodology and Research Methods (160807): Sociology (160800): Studies In Human Society (160000)


young people, families, disability, research, community development, social work theory and practice

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 1 6
Team Member 1 0

Current Projects

Project Title: Long-term successful youth transitions - A national, longitudinal mixed methods investigation

By 2020, the Long-term Successful Youth Transitions Study (LtSYT) will make major contributions to policy and practice concerning long-term resource configurations and multi-system responses likely to optimise transition pathways and enhance high-risk young peoples (yp¿s) social connectedness. The LtSYT will extend the unparalleled multi-agency engagement of MAUX0801 to analyse the transition pathways of a large cohort of vulnerable yp. These multi-agency relationships will ensure maximum leveraging of research outcomes. Over 6 years we will investigate the characteristics of the most successful transition pathways to define strategies that enhance the capacity of vulnerable young people to make positive decisions that enable social participation and connections. Yp navigate significant life transitions including leaving school, further education and/or employment, establishing an independent base, identity and lifestyle choices. There is a growing concern to provide a protective framework for young people moving through these years [1].
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Date Range: 2009 - 2019

Funding Body: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology

Project Team:

Completed Projects

Project Title: GDF - Long term resilience pathways for high risk young people

The research is part of an international study associated with the Resilience Research Centre in Canada. It is funded in NZ by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and is made up of two related projects. Both projects focus on young people with complex needs. This is a 6 year study looking at what services young people in NZ have used and what their experiences have been. Its aim is to identify services and strategies that are successful in assisting young people to achieve positive outcomes in their lives.
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Date Range: 2008 - 2009

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: A national mixed methods investigation of troubled children/young people's pathways to resilience (PtRP).

This five-year research programme offers a unique opportunity to generate policy-relevant evidence concerning the pathways that children and young people (cyp) travel that lead to involvement with the youth justice, child protection, specialist educational and community support systems, the factors that protect them from such involvement and the characteristics of the most effective interventions. The cyp that are the focus of this research experience severe and persistent disadvantage throughout their early lives; they are least likely to participate and succeed. The Pathways to Resilience Programme (PtRP) will inform development of policy and practice concerning key individual and ecological differences between cyp who overcome adversity (resilient) those that do not (non-resilient) and the types of service configurations that most enhance their resilience. Using a multi-systems approach it will contribute directly to BIS 1, theme 3 by identifying the systemic and other factors that can enhance participation and success amongst this section of the community.
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Date Range: 2008 - 2016

Funding Bodies: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Project Team:

Project Title: Family and Community Well-being: Managing Changes

Date Range: 2002 - 2008

Funding Body: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

Research methods.

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 0 9
Co-supervisor 2 14

Current Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • Jayne Mercier - Doctor of Philosophy
    What do we mean by good outcomes for youth? An exploration of how young people and those who work with them in positive youth development contexts perceive outcomes .
  • Braden Clark - Doctor of Social Work
    An exploration of trauma interventions for foster care

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2015 - Litea Meo-Sewabu - Doctor of Philosophy
    'Tu ga na inima ka luvu na waqa' The cultural constructs of health and wellbeing amongst Marama iTaukei in a Fijian village in Lau and in transnational Fijian community in Whanganui, Aotearoa
  • 2010 - Kieran O'Donoghue - Doctor of Philosophy
    Towards the construction of social work supervision in Aotearoa New Zealand: A study of the perspectives of social work practitioners and social work supervisors.
  • 2005 - Philippa Wells - Doctor of Philosophy
    Someone to walk with me": Supporting caregivers who look
  • 2004 - Jacqueline Sanders - Doctor of Philosophy
    Subject Child: The everyday experiences of a group of small town Aotearoa/New Zealand children.
  • 1999 - Elizabeth Nash - Doctor of Philosophy
    People, Policies and Practice: Social Work Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand from 1949-1995.
  • 1998 - Michelle Lunn - Doctor of Philosophy
    `What am I... for her?' Feminism and Disability with/in the Postmodern.
  • 1998 - Nicola Armstrong - Doctor of Philosophy
    Flexible Work and Disciplined Selves: Telework, Gender and Discourses of Subjectivity.
  • 1998 - Christine Cheyne - Doctor of Philosophy
    Public Participation in Local Authority Annual Planning: `Spectacles and Acclamation' or Prospects for Deliberative Democracy?
  • 1997 - Leigh Richards-Ward - Doctor of Philosophy
    From The Ward To The Home: Caring for a Family Member Diagnosed with Schizophrenia in New Zealand.

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2013 - Nicola Stanley-Clarke - Doctor of Philosophy
    Understanding Service Development in Statutory Mental Health Organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand: An Organisational Case Study
  • 2012 - Catherine Campbell - Doctor of Philosophy
    A Study of the Career Pathways of Canadian Young Adults During the Decade After Secondary School Graduation
  • 2009 - Carol Hamilton - Doctor of Philosophy
    "....in our house we're not terribly sexual...." Exploiting the barriers to supporting people with intellectual disability in the area of sexuality and intimacy
  • 2008 - Kathryn Stewart - Doctor of Philosophy
    Adding Quality to the Quilt: Adolescent experiences of critical incident responses in Secondary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • 2007 - Marianne Nicol - Doctor of Philosophy
    Her Worship the Mayor: Women's leadership in New Zealand local government
  • 2006 - Tracie Mafile'O - Doctor of Philosophy
    Tongan social work models for practice.
  • 2002 - Jill Bevan-Brown - Doctor of Philosophy
    Culturally Appropriate, Effective Provision for Maori Learners with Special Needs: HE WAKA TINO WHAKARAWEA.
  • 2000 - Lisa Emerson - Doctor of Philosophy
    A collaborative approach to integrating the teaching of writing into the sciences in a New Zealand tertiary context.
  • 1999 - Pauline Boyles - Doctor of Philosophy
    Enabling Participation Through Partnership Emancipatory Research: The Potential for Change for Disabled People.
  • 1999 - Sharon Milne - Doctor of Philosophy
    Shifting Ground: The Position of Women Parenting Alone in Auckland and their Access to Housing in a Restructured Environment.
  • 1997 - Alice Sutherland - Doctor of Philosophy
    From Unconscious to Self-Conscious Cognitive Rehabilitation from the Perspective of Symbolic Interactionism.
  • 1996 - Jean Hera - Doctor of Philosophy
    Reclaiming the Last Rites (Rights) Women and After-death Policy, Practices and Beliefs in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
  • 1996 - Ian Laird - Doctor of Philosophy
    The Physiological Costs of Wearing Respiratory Protective Devices
  • 1992 - Wendy Craig - Doctor of Philosophy
    From Rocking the Cradle to Rocking the System: Women, Community and Social Change in Aoeteroa

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