Associate Professor Melody Smith-nee Oliver

Profile Image
Associate Head - Research


Aspirations for neighbourhoods where children can be independently mobile, where people can get around safely by walking and cycling, and where social and physical well-being is prioritised and facilitated are key drivers of my research. Most of this work involves the integration of objective measurement of behaviours and outcomes (e.g., accelerometry, inclinometry, GPS, GIS), as well as person-centred methods (participatory planning, online mapping).

I am fortunate to work with amazing researchers and students across a range of exciting and innovative projects that contribute to understanding the links between built and social environments and health and well-being in children and their families. 

Research | Current

Neighbourhoods for Active Kids:

Te Ara Mua - Future Streets for Auckland;

Kids in the City:

Enabling Participation for Disabled Children and Young People:

Postgraduate supervision



Yijun Zhang (primary), Green space and its role for adolescent well-being

Tessa Pocock (primary), Positive ageing in Auckland communities: Exploring relationships between the built and social environments of older adults at risk of frailty and their perceptions of ageing in place

Tamara Bozovic (secondary), Quality of the walking environment and difficulties to access local destinations

Jamie Hosking (secondary), Low-carbon routes to health equity: the impacts of transport policy on health equity,

population health and greenhouse gas emissions

Fiona Yu (secondary), Exploring Resilience in Intensive Care Nurses in New Zealand

Masters theses

Jency Jacob (primary), The Course of Postoperative Pain following Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

Jo Thomson (primary), What is the experience of families and Healthcare Professionals of having an obesity diagnosis discussion in Kidz First Emergency Department?



Doctoral theses

Erika Ikeda, 2019 (primary): Associations between Environmental Attributes and Children’s Active Travel to School

Victoria Egli, 2019 (primary): Neighbourhoods for Healthy Kids: A child-centred investigation into the role of the built environment on child body size

Moushumi Chaudhury, PhD, 2017 (primary): Public Open Space Attributes in Relation to Children’s Independent Mobility Experience in Urban Auckland, New Zealand

Stephanie Schoeppe, 2014 (tertiary): Child independent mobility and active travel: Methods, measures, and associations with physical activity and sedentary behaviour

Lisa Mackay, 2013 (secondary): Physical activity profiling of New Zealand adults: a study of adults with and without young children

Nicholas Garrett 2013 (secondary): Local places for physical activity: how important are they?

Masters theses

Julia McPhee, 2015 (secondary):Exploring the acceptability of and adherence to a carbohydrate-restricted, high fat diet as an instrument for weight-loss in women aged 40-55 years

Victoria Barton, 2014 (primary): Controlled trial of strategies to increase fundamental movement skills in preschoolers

Losi Sa'u Lilo, 2013 (secondary): Health literacy among Pacific mothers in New Zealand: Exploring the associations of demographic and behavioural factors with health literacy of Pacific mothers in the context of Pacific health and well-being

Janine Shepherd, 2010 (secondary): The associations between cardiovascular disease risk factors, self reported and objectively measured physical activity, and happiness

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Smith, M., Amann, R., Cavadino, A., Raphael, D., Kearns, R., Mackett, R., ... Mavoa, S. (2019). Children's Transport Built Environments: A Mixed Methods Study of Associations between Perceived and Objective Measures and Relationships with Parent Licence for Independent Mobility in Auckland, New Zealand. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16 (8).10.3390/ijerph16081361
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Euan Forsyth, Alana Cavadino, Deborah Raphael, Robin Kearns, Jinfeng Zhao
  • Ikeda, E., Hinckson, E., Witten, K., & Smith, M. (2019). Assessment of direct and indirect associations between children active school travel and environmental, household and child factors using structural equation modelling. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 16 (1)10.1186/s12966-019-0794-5
  • Zhao, J., Mackay, L., Chang, K., Mavoa, S., Stewart, T., Ikeda, E., ... Smith, M. (2019). Visualising Combined Time Use Patterns of Children's Activities and Their Association with Weight Status and Neighbourhood Context. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16 (5).10.3390/ijerph16050897
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jinfeng Zhao, Niamh Donnellan
  • Egli, V., Carroll, P., Donnellan, N., Mackay, L., Anderson, B., & Smith, M. (2019). Disseminating research results to kids: practical tips from the Neighbourhoods for Active Kids study. Kotuitui10.1080/1177083X.2019.1621909
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Niamh Donnellan
  • Smith, M., Ikeda, E., Hinckson, E., Duncan, S., Maddison, R., Meredith-Jones, K., ... Mandic, S. (2018). Results from New Zealand's 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Journal of physical activity & health, 15 (S2), S390-S392. 10.1123/jpah.2018-0463
  • Ikeda, E., Hinckson, E., Witten, K., & Smith, M. (2018). Associations of children's active school travel with perceptions of the physical environment and characteristics of the social environment: A systematic review. Health & place, 54, 118-131. 10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.09.009
  • Mavoa, S., Lamb, K., O'Sullivan D, Witten, K., & Smith, M. (2018). Are disadvantaged children more likely to be excluded from analysis when applying global positioning systems inclusion criteria?. BMC research notes, 11 (1)10.1186/s13104-018-3681-2
  • Spencer, G., Smith, M., Thompson, J., Fairbrother, H., Hoare, K., Fouché C, & Curtis, P. (2018). Health experiences of children and young people who migrate – Opportunities for health education. Health Education Journal, 001789691878676-001789691878676. 10.1177/0017896918786767
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christa Fouche


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 505 - Bldg 505
Level 2, Room 235A
New Zealand

Social links

Web links