Alison Gray – Farewell

We were sad to learn of Alison Gray’s death on 1 September from motor neurone disease. Ali was a well known, respected, and loved member of Wellington’s research and evaluation community, and the director of Gray Matter Research. If you work in the public, social, health or development sectors, you are likely to have accessed and/or used one of her many papers, publications or reports. 

Ali was teaching research methods at Victoria University of Wellington when the two of us met her as postgraduate students of social work. Our initial and abiding experience of Ali was her practical and down to earth approach, intellectual acuity, and keen wit.   

We have continued to intersect with Ali throughout our professional lives as she has contributed to an extensive and impressive range of literature reviews, reports, and projects in policy, practice, research and evaluation. She was always generous and humble in sharing what she knew. Ali cared about who she was collecting information from and about, and how it would be used to support meaningful change.  

Alongside her work, Ali wrote eleven books. David Pearson identified The Smith Women (1981) and The Jones Men (1983) as local  landmarks in feminist sociological literature, using oral histories. She also wrote several novels and children’s books. 

We will remember Ali’s passion for life, adventure and travel, her vibrancy, and care about people. We and many others will miss her. 

There will be a memorial service when it’s possible to have large gatherings. Please send any messages to

Vicki Wilde and Rae Torrie