A team of geographers is to look into whether changes made to the way aid is given to Pacific countries is undermining their sovereignty.
The researchers, to be led by Professor John Overton from Wellington's Victoria University, have been given funding through the New Zealand's Marsden Fund to conduct the investigation.
Another of the researchers, Victoria's Dr Warwick Murray, says the new direction taken in aid spending in 2005 saw money going directly to governments, often in the form of budgetary support.
He says the aim was to allow the recipient countries to set their own agendas but in small Pacific countries they think it may have had the reverse effect.
It's actually leading to increased compliance costs and ultimately, in many cases, consultants from outside of the countries are being employed in order to set the agendas with the national governments and in order to ensure the outcomes are reported in a way that complies with the conditions set by the donors. So effectively it undermines sovereignty rather than returns it.