Growing up with a working class background in South Auckland in the 1970s, Tracey McIntosh didn’t see going to university as option. Instead, she started working – first at Auckland airport, then teaching English in France and central Africa.
Once McIntosh did enrol at university – back in the Pacific and as a mature student with children – she found sociology was a discipline that immediately made sense to her. McIntosh worked as a lecturer for three years at the University of South Pacific in Fiji then moved to Auckland and completed her PhD on extreme death experience, looking at the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda.
At the time that McIntosh received the Royal Society’s Te Rangi Hiroa Medal, in 2017, she was the Head of Te Wānanga o Waipapa – the School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies – with research which includes how to stop the intergenerational transfer of inequality.