21 Jan 2019

NZ's first professor of social policy dies aged 78

5:04 pm on 21 January 2019

One of New Zealand's foremost experts on public policy has died at the age of 78.

Ian Shirley was New Zealand's first professor of social policy.

He worked at the Auckland University of Technology from 2000, including as pro vice-chancellor, establishing the Institute of Public Policy.

Ian Shirley

Ian Shirley Photo: AUT

He then established a programme of providing independent briefing papers on the state of the country, intended to provide a basis for public discussion and debate.

Prof Shirley was a strong critic of neoliberal economics which he said had left New Zealand with a low wage economy and a major social deficit.

In his most recent briefing paper, published just last month, he said the government's focus on children was the most fundamental shift in social policy in over four decades, and allowed New Zealand to make a comprehensive start to achieving social and economic equality.

Prof Shirley led an international project involving 15 research teams looking at social and economic development in major cities of Asia, the Pacific and Latin America.