Distinguished Professor Spoonley is one of New Zealand's leading academics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Massey University.
He has written or edited 25 books and is a regular commentator in the news media. In 2010, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley and in 2013, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen.
He was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand Science and Technology medal in 2009 in recognition of his academic scholarship, leadership and public contribution to cultural understanding and in 2011, his contribution to Sociology was acknowledged with the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand's scholarship for exceptional service to New Zealand sociology.