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Rochelle Stewart-Withers

Head of Programme - Development Studies, Massey University

Dr Rochelle Stewart-Withers (Te Āti Awa) is an academic with the Institute of Development Studies at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand. She is a Indigenous, feminist and post-colonial scholar and broadly her research critically explores the potential of sport as a means for improving economic and social outcomes in developing countries, especially at the community and household level. She has been particularly interested in how sport is used as an entry point into communities when looking to address gender equality, such as gender-based violence. Also the ways athletes and communities see sport to be a livelihood option.

In 2020 as joint PI, Rochelle was awarded a Royal Marsden Grant for a 3 year project titled: Sport for Development : Indigenous Perspectives - Our games by Our Rules. She is also part of broader team working with academics from Canada and Australia on a 5 year project titled: A Sporting Chance? A Critical Indigenous Analysis of 'Sport for Reconciliation' in Canada, Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand which is funded by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council.

Prior to moving into the development sector she was a registered nurse for 16 years, mainly in the mental health sector and this interest in mental wellbeing continues today with her role as member of the board with the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation. Most importantly though, she is partner to Pete and mum to 5 amazing young people Indiya, Finn, Samara-Rose, Cassius and India.


  • 2008–present
    Dr Rochelle Stewart-Withers, Massey University