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Lorena de la Torre Parra

Lecturer/Pūkenga, Institute of Development Studies, Massey University

I am a mestiza woman, born in the Andes of Ecuador. I grew up under the scorching equatorial sun, nestled high between the clouds and at the feet of mountains and eternal snow-covered volcanoes. I am a daughter and granddaughter of these mountains and valleys, a storyteller, a gardener, a writer.

I recently joined Massey University after years living and working in the education sector in Papua New Guinea. This was followed by time at Victoria University of Wellington where I completed my PhD and taught for the Development Studies Programme. Later, I spent a period of time working in the NGO sector back in Aotearoa NZ where I managed international development and humanitarian programmes in the Pacific Region and South East Asia. In June 2021, I joined the Institute of Development Studies team at Massey University, New Zealand, as a Lecturer.

My research focuses on Indigenous notions of development and education, on how these influence sense of place, and how these can contribute towards decolonisation efforts in development, education and scholarship across Oceania. My PhD research, entitled ‘Storying place’, explored relationalities in Oceanic education and development. This is a body of work that has emerged from extensive relationships in East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, and draws on the stories of local elders and educators, and their experiences of development and education. It used the relational practice of tok stori (storying) as the primary methodological framework, in order to centre the knowledge, practices and interests of Oceanic peoples. My research advocates for the disruption of scholarship, education and development, in ways that honour, reflect and respectfully uphold the sacredness and standing of Indigenous methodologies, epistemologies, values and practices.


  • –present
    Lecturer/Pūkenga, Institute of Development Studies, Massey University


  • 2020 
    School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences - Victoria University of Wellington, Doctor of Philosophy - Development Studies