School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

AProf Sara Kindon

Associate Professor
School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

Phone: 04 463 6194
Location: Room 213, Cotton Building, Gate 7 Kelburn Pde, Kelburn Campus

AProf Sara Kindon


BA (Honours) Geography University of Durham, United Kingdom(1989); MA Geography University of Waterloo, Canada (1993); DPhil, University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand (2012).


Publications from 2002 - Now

Research Interests

  • Critical perspectives in development, feminist and Maaori geographies.
  • Young people, identity and place– especially within former refugee communities.
  • Qualitative, participatory, feminist and Kaupapa Maaori research methodologies including participatory rural appraisal, participatory video and gender analysis.
  • Feminist, postcolonial and action-oriented pedagogies – teaching in a diverse world.

Current Research Projects

Excavating Power, Complicity and Desire in a Participatory Video for Research Project with Te Iwi o Ngaati Hauiti (PhD thesis)

In my thesis, I explore some of the seductions and dangers of a development-oriented research practice involving the use of participatory video with a group of indigenous Maaori research partners in the central North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand during 1998-2006.

The aims in focusing attention on my own work are to practise a form of hyper-reflexivity (Kapoor, 2004), about the delicate interplay of power, complicity, and desire throughout the process, and to consider how participatory video may or may not act as a vehicle for empire building. I do so in an effort to excavate the implications for the perpetuation and/or transformation of existing forms of inequalities within my work, and participatory research and development more generally. My overall goal in producing this reflexive auto-ethnography is to engage with recent critiques about the tyranny of participation and explore the potential for its re-politicization and radicalisation within Geography. 

Youth Geographies of Fear and Hope in Aotearoa New Zealand and the UK

As Aotearoa New Zealand becomes an increasingly mobile and multi-cultural society, I am curious about how young people negotiate ideas about fear and hope circulating at different scales (e.g. from the global ‘War on Terror’ to the personal stories associated with racist or sexual attacks, or the ideas of starting a new and better life in New Zealand). Specifically, I am working as part of an international collaborative project exploring the geographies of fear and hope amongst former refugee and ‘white’ youth in New Zealand and the UK (with Rachel Pain, Durham, Ruth Panelli, London, and Jo Little, Exeter). This project grows out of and complements my wider involvement in PAR projects involving young people in the Wellington region.

Teaching and Learning Participation

I am interested in the benefits and challenges associated with teaching and learning participation in geography. There has been a recent growth of participatory pedagogies in higher education, including research-led teaching, service learning, and community-based research. I am exploring the unique political, ethical, and logistical challenges involved in using participatory action research as a vehicle for teaching through my graduate course (GEOG 404) Geography of Development Studies: Young People and Participatory Development. Using an action research approach to my own teaching as well as interviews with students and community participants involved in the course I am trying to rethink some of the tensions associated with the relationships between theory-practice, teacher-student, and university-community.

Research Cluster

Convenor of the Social Theory and Spatial Praxis Research Cluster


My research centres on questions of how human geographers produce knowledge and what role co-researchers and participants play within this process.  I am concerned with methodology, ethics, power and social justice, and both theoretical and applied dimensions of research.  Specifically, I focus on adapting and developing participatory and visual methodologies that challenge hierarchical power relationships and open up spaces for the participation of traditionally marginalised groups and their knowledges. For example, over the last fifteen years, I have been using Participatory Action Research, Participatory Appraisal techniques and/or Participatory Video in research with women, indigenous/Maaori people and, more recently, with former refugees and young people. I have undertaken research in Costa Rica and Indonesia and currently work in both rural and urban settings in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

I completed my undergraduate degree at Durham University in Geography (with Anthropology and Spanish) in 1989. After a Royal Geographical Society funded ‘expedition’ to Costa Rica to work with a women’s cooperative in 1990, I moved to Ontario, Canada where I gained my Masters degree in Geography from the University of Waterloo in 1993. My fieldwork involved 14 months in Bali, Indonesia researching the value of Participatory Rural Appraisal and Gender and Development for the island’s sustainable development planning. I moved to Wellington in 1994 to lecture in Human Geography and Development Studies. Since 1998, I have been involved in a long-term collaborative research partnership with members of Te Iwi o Ngaati Hauiti (the tribe of Ngaati Hauiti). I am working part-time on my PhD reflecting on aspects of this relationship under the supervision of Prof. Robyn Longhurst and Dr. Lynda Johnson at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, Aotearoa/New Zealand.

More recently, I have become involved in the facilitation and coordination of Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects with refugee-background and other young people in Wellington. These projects have used PAR and Photovoice to examine aspects of their health and well-being, educational participation and achievement, transition from school to careers, and experiences of particular places in the region.  Outcomes have informed the implementation of the Refugee Regional Health and Well-being Action Plan, the strengthening of support services to young people, and a photo-exhibition to members of parliament and other policy makers. 

Currently, I coordinate three courses and am involved in the supervision of nine graduate students. I am the Convenor of the Social Theory and Spatial Praxis Research Cluster and Co-coordinator (with Warwick Murray) of the Undergraduate Major in Development Studies.

I am editing a book: Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods: Connecting People, Participation and Place (Routledge), a symposium issue of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education, and a 90-minute documentary on Te Awa Hikoi o Ngaati Hauiti (the inaugural river journey of Ngaati Hauiti). I am on the editorial board of three journals: Asia Pacific Viewpoint, ACME: An International E-Journal of Critical Geographies and Geography Compass.