Finding ways to enhance the quality of economic data for the Pacific Islands

Professor Saten Kumar, head of school for AUT’s School of Economics.

Professor Saten Kumar, of Fijian-Indian descent, grew up in the village of Natadola in the province of Sigatoka, before moving to Nadi to attend high school.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Education (Economics), a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics, and a Master of Commerce from the University of South Pacific, he came to New Zealand in 2008 to complete a PhD in economics at AUT.

A decade and a half later, Saten still proudly calls AUT home and over the years, his academic career has progressed quickly. He started working as a lecturer in 2010, was promoted to associate professor in 2015 and became a full professor in 2021.

Since 2019, he has been the head of school for AUT’s School of Economics, and enjoys sharing his passion for economics with his staff and students.

Giving back to the community

As a researcher, Saten is interested in finding ways to enhance the quality of economic data for Pacific Islands.

“I like giving back to the community through my research,” he says.

His research focuses on how individuals form their beliefs and has been used to inform policymaking in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Saten’s earlier research explored monetary policies of the Pacific Islands, particularly the Pacific Islands’ economic policy-making and central banks, with a focus on how central banks should be using and stabilising inflation for more growth in the economy.

Connecting with students

Saten says he loves being connected with students and really wants them to make positive changes to our society.

He believes his ability to connect and help students comes from his understanding of being part of a collective; something he attributes to his Pacific upbringing.

His goal is to see more Pacific students joining AUT and progressing to postgraduate study, including a PhD.

“We have too few PhDs from the Pacific Islands, and it is important to encourage our Pacific people to target higher education studies.”