UQ and Oceania

From good neighbours to strategic partners

UQ and the diverse countries of the Oceania region share longstanding and multifaceted relations. As our closest international neighbours, our growing people-to-people links are helping understand one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, and protecting the oceans, crops, and animals that its communities rely on.

Fast facts

Excludes Australia.


Students from Oceania enrolled at UQ


Oceania-UQ co-publications


academic staff born in Oceania


research project collaborations


alumni in Oceania


agreements with 3 official partners

Fast facts show full-year 2018 data.



In the past 5 years, UQ has produced more than 1687 co-publications with researchers in Oceania, largely in the areas of public health, ecology, and medicine. Co-publishing partners include the University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Massey University, and the University of the South Pacific.

Research collaborations

In the past 5 years, UQ has collaborated with 31 Oceanic institutions on 71 research projects, covering topics such as helping people to quit smoking, interventions and services for children with cerebral palsy, and enhancing tropical agriculture. Key collaborators include the University of AucklandUniversity of Otago, and Auckland Hospital.

Research funding

24 Oceanic organisations, including Fonterra (New Zealand), Barrick (Niugini) Limited (PNG) and the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen (PNG), have contributed more than A$2.9 million towards 30 research projects in the past 5 years. Projects investigate a range of topics including preventing gender-based violence, improving dairy production, and community-based climate change adaptation.

Collaboration in action

Tracking evolution of TB superbugs in PNG

A joint University of Queensland and Queensland Health-led team has completed the first genetic analysis of TB strains circulating on PNG’s Daru Island, a major hotspot for TB outbreaks on Australia’s doorstep. The project, led by Associate Professor Lachlan Coin from the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), found that one strain had developed mutations against 12 drugs by 2009, rendering all first- and second-line treatments ineffective. It was the first time there had been a detailed understanding of the strains located in a proven multi-drug resistant TB hotspot. The study also highlighted the need to carefully manage treatment with new TB drugs to prevent resistance developing.

Strengthening crop management

UQ is leading research into the sustainable development of high-value crops in the Pacific Islands. As part of this collaboration, School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Mike Furlong heads an international project to research emerging pest and disease problems before they impact on newly intensified crops. Working closely with policy makers and farmers throughout the region, he is helping improve the long-term livelihoods of subsistence farmers and the sustainable development of crops. Local partners include the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre, and government agricultural ministries in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Solomon Islands.

Responding to pressures around mining projects

The Sustainable Minerals Institute's Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (SMI-CSRM) works closely with leading industry bodies in PNG, including Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining, to embed socially responsible mining practices into their core businesses. SMI Associate Professor Nick Bainton, whose research focuses on the Oceania region, has led the delivery of several social performance and leadership programs throughout PNG including a human rights impact assessment for the proposed Papua LNG Project in Gulf Province, operated by Total E&P and in collaboration with the Danish Institute for Human Rights. OceanaGold has also engaged SMI-CSRM to undertake a scoping study for the development of a social impact monitoring program for the recently closed Reefton mine in the South Island of New Zealand.

Parenting program reaches Māori community

A culturally adapted parenting program for Māori families has increased parents’ confidence, reduced conflict between partners, and improved children’s behaviour. The results followed the participation of Māori families in the Te Whānau Pou Toru program, adapted from the UQ-developed Triple P – Positive Parenting Program. The New Zealand Ministry of Health-funded study was conducted by the University of Auckland and the Ngāti Hine Health Trust, one of the largest Māori health providers in the country. Te Whānau Pou Toru encouraged families to share ideas about whānau (extended family) and how they interact with their children. University researchers and members of the Trust are now asking the government to make the program widely available.

Boosting community resilience to climate change

The impacts of climate change – such as rising sea levels and intense storm activity – have been particularly concentrated in tropical areas. Interventions to adapt have been accelerating at the community level, nonetheless, there has been little analysis of their long-term effectiveness in reducing livelihood and resource vulnerability. In response, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Associate Professor James Watson and Dr Karen McNamara are optimising community-based climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands. Funded by the Australian Research Council, and in collaboration with eight partner organisations, the pair is evaluating interventions and providing best practice guidelines – research that will help ensure the efficient use of resources throughout the region.

Charting a course to a ‘blue economy’

Marine scientists have proposed a prosperity path for Melanesia (comprising Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), in a report that values the region’s ocean assets at more than half a trillion US dollars. Led by Global Change Institute Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (pictured), UQ scientists hope their proposals will help Melanesia’s leaders build on previous commitments to a sustainable ocean-based ‘blue economy’. Global pressures from climate change threaten food security, coastal protection, and long-term economic opportunity in the region, which has one of the highest population growth rates in the world.

Addressing the complexities of legal pluralism

Collaborating with international researchers and non-government organisations, UQ's Professor Jennifer Corrin (pictured) is working to find solutions to the problems that arise from legal pluralism – the co-existence of different legal systems within one social field. With a focus on the South Pacific region, in particular Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Torres Strait, Professor Corrin’s research has been influential in highlighting the issues facing the region and making the law more accessible to scholars, practitioners and policy makers.


Students from Oceania at UQ

In the past 5 years, more than 690 students from Oceania have been enrolled in UQ degrees (excluding Australians). PhD studies, the Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy, Graduate Certificate in International RelationsBachelor of Engineering (Honours), and Medicine are popular program choices.

Student societies at UQ provide great opportunities to share interests and build community. They include the South Pacific Islander Association and a wide range of faith groups.

Video: Dannicah Chen, from Samoa, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce. She was chosen as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador in 2015.

Celebrating the cultures of Oceania

The UQ Anthropology Museum is home to a significant collection of Pacific art and artefacts. It has held exhibitions on the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, including the first museum exhibition of Lihir culture (PNG) anywhere in the world. Emeritus Professor Clive Moore was awarded a Cross of Solomon Islands for his historical work on Malaita Island, while Honorary Associate Professor Annie Ross has worked in Marovo Lagoon for over a decade, documenting local cultural traditions and stories from the past and the present that link local people to their land and sea heritage. UQ also offers many courses focusing on the Asia-Pacific, including Archaeology of the Pacific Islands, Australia Pacific Indigenous Arts, and South Pacific Comparative Law.

Audio: Bucketlist: What do you know about the Solomon Islands? Senior Curator Dr Diana Young speaks to ABC Radio Adelaide about the stories behind the UQ Anthropology Museum's collection.

Student mobility

Intensive language and cultural course

In 2017, the School of Languages and Cultures offered the inaugural New Caledonia Intensive Course, which aims to facilitate understanding of French Pacific and Kanak cultures while helping students increase their language proficiency. Based in Noumea, the course included a homestay with a francophone family and excursions to Kanak communities. The course can be counted towards a French major.

New Colombo Mobility Plan

The New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program has supported several UQ undergraduate students to undertake semester-based study in the Indo Pacific. In 2017, Caitlin Gordon-King (Bachelor of Communication/Bachelor of Arts) studied at the University of South Pacific (USP), in Suva, Fiji, while also interning at United Nations Women. Patrick Walsh (Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts) studied at USP in 2016 and went on to do an internship in India.

New Zealand field trip

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences runs a two-week field trip to a convergent plant margin in New Zealand's North Island, and a transform plate boundary in the South Island. Undergraduate students are given the opportunity to witness how tectonic processes influence geomorphology, and how these landscapes continue to evolve.


UQ has more than 1,240 alumni in Oceania (excluding Australia). Alumni with strong links to the region include:

Charles Abel
Papua New Guinea

Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (Bachelor of Economics, 1989)
Solomon Islands

High Commissioner of the Solomon Islands to Australia (Master of International Relations)
Papua New Guinea

High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea (Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science 1974)
Papua New Guinea

First female cabinet minister of Papua New Guinea (Doctor of the University honoris causa 2005)


President of Kiribati (Master of Economic Studies 2002)

Legal scholar and Executive Director of the Samoa Law Reform Commission (PhD, 2013)
Wez Norris
Solomon Islands

Deputy Director-General at Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Solomon Islands (Bachelor of Applied Science)
Biman Prasad

Leader of the National Federation Party, Shadow Minister for Finance, Planning and National Statistics, Fiji (PhD)
Dr Osborne Sanida
Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PhD Applied Economics)

Australia Awards alumnus (Masters in IT Management, 2015)
The Hon Malakai Tabar MP
Papua New Guinea

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Papua New Guinea (Masters of Agribusiness)
Ioeru Tokantetaake

Commissioner of Police & Superintendent of Prison at Kiribati Police and Prison Service (MPhil)