Dr Tess Newton Cain is an independent researcher and consultant with over 20 years of experience in governance, policy and political analysis of the Pacific island region. She is a former Lecturer in Law at the University of the South Pacific and is a (dual) citizen of Vanuatu, where she lived 1997-2016.

Current research: A study of the adoption of 'Green Growth' as a policy driver in the Pacific island region (jointly with Matthew Dornan (ANU), Wesley Morgan (USP), and Sandra Tarte (USP).


2015 ‘The Renaissance of the Melanesian Spearhead Group’ in Fry & Tarte (eds) New Pacific Diplomacy, ANU e-press, pp 151-160

2015 ‘Vanuatu and Cyclone Pam: An update on fiscal, economic and development impacts’ in Pacific Economic Monitor, Midyear Review pp 23-27 (co-authored with Matthew Dornan)

2015 ‘Rebuild or reform: regional and subregional architecture in the Pacific island region’ in Journal de la Société des Océanistes Vol 140/1, pp 49-58

2014 ‘Regional service delivery among Pacific island countries: an assessment’ in Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies Vol 1/3, pp 541-560 (co-authored with Matthew Dornan)

2014 ‘The role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the Indo-Pacific region: a submission on behalf of the Lowy Institute for Foreign Policy to a Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

2010 A Kind of Mending: Restorative Justice in the Pacific Islands, ANU e-press (co-edited with Sinclair Dinnen & Anita Jowitt, first published in 2003 by Pandanus Books)

2010 Passage of Change: Law, Society and Governance in the Pacific, ANU e-press (co-edited with Anita Jowitt, first published in 2003 by Pandanus Books)

2002 ‘Changing Police Procedures’ in Prenzler & Ransley (eds) Police Reform: Building Integrity, Hawkins Press, pp146-158

2001 ‘Convergence or Clash? The recognition of customary law and practice in sentencing decisions of the courts of the Pacific island region’ in Melbourne Journal of International Law Vol 2(1) – online only

1999 Introduction to South Pacific Law (1st ed), Cavendish (co-authored with Jennifer Corrin-Care & Don Paterson)

1998 ‘The Place of Ethics in Investigative Interviewing by Police Officers’ in The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Vol 37/1, pp52-69

Researcher biography

Adjunct Associate Professor to the School of Political Science and International Studies.

I am an expert on Pacific politics, policy and development with over 20 years of experience as an academic, a consultant and a commentator for national and international media outlets (including the BBC, Radio Australia, the ABC, SBS News, Radio New Zealand). Between 1997 and 2001 I was a Lecturer in Law at the University of the South Pacific.

Since 2001 I have run my own consultancy business in addition to maintaining a research profile. My clients have included the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the UN. During 2017 I worked as a strategic adviser to the Office of the President in Vanuatu.

I have an extensive research and publications record which covers criminal law and procedure, governance, private sector development in the Pacific island region, Pacific regionalism and sub-regionalism, economic impacts of natural disasters in the Pacific, green growth as a policy driver, and the rule of law as an aspect of democratic culture.

I am a Visiting Fellow to the Crawford School at ANU and a senior research adjunct to the Cairns Institute at JCU.