Professor Nicole Haley

BA (UQ), BA(Hons) (Macquarie University), PhD (ANU)
Head, ANU Department of Pacific Affairs & Pacific Research Program Lead, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
College of Asia & the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Public Policy 160510
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205
  • Pacific Cultural Studies 200210

Research interests

Political Anthropology; Elections & Electoral Politics in the Pacific; Social Identity & Land Politics; Women’s Leadership & Political Participation; Conflict & Armed Violence; and the Politics of Service Delivery.



I head the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) funded Pacific Research Program - a DPA-led consortium also comprising the ANU Development Policy Centre and the Lowy Institute. I have over 25 years research experience in the Pacific and 12 years leadership and management experience. I joined DPA, then the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2006 and assumed the role of Program Convenor in late 2008. Since then I have secured $82 million in research funds transforming SSGM from a bespoke research unit into a fully integrated university department and leading international centre for applied multidisciplinary research and analysis concerning Melanesia and the broader Pacific.

As a scholar and leading authority on elections in Melanesia, I have demonstrated substantial influence with regard to the Australian Aid Program, particularly in the areas of women’s empowerment and women’s political participation, election monitoring and electoral reform. Highly regarded for my policy advice, research and analysis, I have worked extensively with development partners in various advisory and consultative capacities and in 2014 was awarded the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Policy and Outreach.

My extensive ethnographic research has yielded 90 discreet research outputs including two co-edited books: Conflict and Resource Development in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (2007) and Election 2007: The Shift to Limited Preferential Voting in Papua New Guinea (2013), a series of country specific election observation handbooks as well as 25 peer-reviewed academic papers, seven major published reports and 13 peer-reviewed In-Briefs, targeted to a policy audience. In addition to my academic publications, I have produced 30+ commissioned research reports, contributed to five major aid program designs, participated in three major program evaluations and three World Bank Missions. I and am a member of the Pacific Women Advisory Group on Research and a strategic advisor to the Australia Pacific Security College

Career highlights

2014  ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Policy and Outreach, in recognition of my substantial public policy contribution to the “areas of women’s empowerment and political participation, electoral monitoring and electoral reform”. 

2003  G.J. Crawford Prize, ANU’s premier prize for Academic Excellence for my doctoral thesis entitled Ipakana Yakaiya: Mapping Landscapes, Mapping Lives - Contemporary Land Politics among the Duna.

2000 Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation: Steps for Reconciliation Award

Researcher's projects

Elections and Electoral Politics in Melanesia: this ongoing project examines the changing nature of political culture in the region and seeks to assess the impact and effectiveness of electoral system reform and its influences upon political culture, including money politics and women’s political participation.

Improving Women's Leadership and Political Participation in the Pacific: this ongoing project explores the barriers to and enablers of improved women's political participation in the Pacific. It recognises that throughout much of the region women do not participate in elections as equal citizens.

The Politics of Hela: this ongoing project explores social and political conflict in Papua New Guinea's Hela Province. It examines the politics of social identity from the precontact period through to modern day parliamentary politics.

Current student projects

Eileen Bobone (Chair of Panel) - Women and the 2017 General Elections in Rigo District in Central Province: Papua New Guinea

Theresa Meki (Chair of Panel) - Campaigining in Papua New Guinea: Oro Women Candidates in the 2017 PNG National Elections

Almah Tararia (Chair of Panel) - Women's Political Participation and Descision Making in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea

Murray Thomas (Chair of Panel) - Means of ascent: Peter O'Neill's ousting of Sir Michael Somare

Anita Togolo (Chair of Panel) - Local Business Development at Ok Tedi Mine, Papua New Guinea

Natasha Turia-Moka (Supervisor_ - Decentralisation od Australia's Pacific Labour Mobility Programmes in Papua New Guinea

Mary Walta (Advisor) - Customary Land, Social Protection and Livelihoods Port Moresby: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 

Past student projects

Kerryn Baker (Chair of Panel) – The meanings of success in gender quota campaigns in the Pacific Islands Region. 2011-2015. Research Fellow ANU Department of Pacific Affairs.

Michelle Rooney (Chair of Panel) - Nogat mani: social safety nets for Tufi migrants of ATS settlement, Moresby, Papua New Guinea. 2012-2017. Research Fellow ANU Development Policy Centre.

Colin Wiltshire (Chair of Panel) - Public expenditure, decentralisation and serivce delivery in Papua New Guinea: tracking budgets to health clinics. 2009-2017. Research Fellow ANU Department of Pacific Affairs.

Terence Wood (Supervisor) - Ties that Unbind? Ethnic identity, social rules and electoral politics in Solomon Islands. 2010-2014. Research Fellow ANU Development Policy Centre.

Stephanie Lusby (Supervisor) - Raitman olgeta: Negotiating what it means to be a ‘Good’ man in contemporary Papua New Guinea. 2011-2018. Research Fellow La Trobe University.

Kirsty Gillespie (Supervisor/Advisor) - Steep slopes: soc creativity, continuity and change for the Duna of Papua New Guinea. 2003-2008. Senior Curator, Anthropology, James Cook University.

Lila San Roque (Supervisor/Advisor) - An introduction to Duna grammar. 2003-2008. Lecturer in Linguistics, Faculty of Arts and social Sciences, University of Sydney. 



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Updated:  14 April 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers