An academic who's just been honored for his research on Pacific migration says Australia and New Zealand must consider creating new opportunities for Melanesians to live and work in their countries.

Professor Richard Bedford, from the University of Waikato and AUT University, has just received the Dame Joan Metge medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

He says Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have limited outlets for their people to move overseas in comparison with countries in Polynesia and Micronesia.

He says New Zealand and Australia will have no choice in the future but to address migration from those countries in a more comprehensive way.

"In Papua New Guinea's case, Solomon's and Vanuatu these are island states, I mean their nearest countries that have got opportunities for employment are Australia and New Zealand. There are limited opportunities for the development of wage employment in those countries."