Their Stories, Our History: Mike O’Brien


  • Barbara Staniforth University of Auckland
  • Carole Adamson Registered social worker


Biography, social work history, Aotearoa New Zealand, social work education


INTRODUCTION: This article reviews the life contribution of Mike O’Brien to the fields of social work education, research, and practice over his 55 years in the field.

APPROACH: Using interviews, publications, and letters of support written for Mike’s Queen’s Service Medal awarded in 2018, a chronological and thematic consideration is provided which demonstrates Mike’s significant contribution in linking teaching, theory, practice, policy, research, and advocacy in making a difference for the children and families of Aotearoa New Zealand.

CONCLUSION: The overriding theme of Mike’s career emerges as a determination to highlight the social work and social policy responsibility to address issues of child poverty at both micro and macro levels.


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How to Cite

Staniforth, B., & Adamson, C. (2024). Their Stories, Our History: Mike O’Brien. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 36(1), 45–59. Retrieved from



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