Research Interests and Speciality
Aporosa's research makes a significant contribution to Pacific studies health and education research both ethnographically and qualitatively. Dominating that expertise is the cultural and social use of kava, research that has also influenced wider Pacific themes. These include the identification of new forms of identity by people in diaspora and their hosts, and the link between identity and cultural connectedness and increased notions of health and wellbeing including the importance of these factors to academic achievement. This has since been applied to Māori in the writing of a Tribal Education Strategy and a health study and resulted in four research awards valued at $750k. Furthermore, it has led to new understandings relating to kava neuropsychopharmacology following the administering of psychometric tests to kava users aimed at understanding kava’s effects on productivity and driver safety. That kava drink-driving study is funded by two Health Research Council (Pacific research) awards valued at $500k.
Aporosa's work is underpinned by the grassroots theory of Post-Development (PD) and the development of a PD indigenous methodology to ensure cultural sensitivity and the acknowledgement of local processes. Moreover, the use of psychometric assessment – measures based on Eurocentric paradigms – have pushed PD theory in a new direction to demonstrate that, when used with care, indigenous systems have legitimacy in the field of quantitative research. A/Prof. Matt Tomlinson wrote that Aporosa's book (from his PhD - Yaqona [kava] and education in Fiji, 2014) is a “detailed and rigorous examination of education in Fiji in the context of teachers’ widespread kava consumption. Unlike many researchers, Dr Aporosa took a culturally sensitive approach … [which] will improve education delivery for Fiji’s students... Dr Aporosa must now be considered the world’s leading researcher on the social use of kava (Piper methysticum)”. (Oct. 2016)
Aporosa collaborates work with several leading psychopharmacologists at prestigious universities (UK and Australia), advises Pacific and NZ Police and NZ Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) on kava-driving matters, has been the keynote speaker at seven conferences, and is regularly approached my radio and print media concerning pacific matters.
In the 2019 New Zealand Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) ranking, an assessment of an academics research performance, Aporosa was awarded a B (Pacific panel). His scores comprised: Research Output – 5 (raw), 350 (weighted); Research Contribution – 5 (raw), 150 (weighted).