Vision, heritage, values, and purpose

The Strategic Plan commits us to uphold a set of institutional values and states our vision and purpose in society.

Vision statement

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington will be a world-leading capital city university and one of the great global–civic universities. This vision is expressed in brief as ‘Capital thinking. Globally minded. Mai i te iho ki te pae’.

As a world-leading capital city university, we play a prominent role in the life of Wellington and beyond. We lead thinking on the major issues that affect the environmental, societal, cultural, and economic wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Asia–Pacific, and the wider world.

As a global–civic university, we ensure our research and teaching are both locally relevant and internationally significant. We expect to rank within the top 1 percent of the world’s universities.

Central to this vision is our commitment to being a values-based university, to sustainability, and to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te Reo Māori, mātauranga Māori, and our relationships with iwi and iwi-related organisations. As such, we are a global–civic university with our marae at our heart, defined by our heritage and our tūrangawaewae, and with unique attributes that stem from our values and our capital city location.

We pursue ambitious research designed to challenge the status quo. We leverage our research strengths and the distinctive advantages and opportunities that Wellington provides to deliver transformative outcomes.

Our university is a place where learning flourishes and where people are helped to transform society. In partnership with Wellington, we provide an unrivalled student experience.

We build trusted and enduring partnerships with alumni, benefactors, and communities. We have a strong sense of belonging in the Asia–Pacific and exert substantial intellectual influence in the region.

We are critically engaged with diverse perspectives and world views. Our university community is inclusive and reflects the diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand’s population. We are proud to have staff and students with a broad range of experience, knowledge, cultures, and backgrounds, from here and overseas.

We rise to the challenge posed by the rapid transformation in the global tertiary education sector through willing and enthusiastic responsiveness in our policies, practices, and operational models to the changing needs of our staff, students, and communities. In so doing, we retain our distinctiveness as a values-based, research-intensive university that employs processes and systems that empower our staff and students.

Our university has a financially and environmentally sustainable operating model to fund world-class teaching and research and to protect our institutional autonomy for the long term.

Heritage and position

Aotearoa New Zealand is a multicultural, democratic, egalitarian society, with deep roots in the Pacific and Europe, directed towards an Asia–Pacific future. The University was founded in 1897 and draws deeply on a constitutional framework enriched by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

A prominent motive for the establishment of the University was the pressing need for Wellington to be supported by a public university. Our character as a ‘capital city university’ was first suggested in 1886 by our founder, Robert Stout:

‘So far as Wellington is concerned, it is the seat of Parliament and the seat of the Court of Appeal. This city might be prominent for its special attention to jurisprudence, to law, to political science, to history.’

— Barrowman R. Victoria University of Wellington 1899-1999 A History. Te Herenga Waka University Press, 1999.

This heritage is reflected in the contemporary position of the University as Aotearoa New Zealand’s globally ranked, capital city university. Consistent with the civic- university tradition, we engage closely with New Zealand’s capital city and the wider Wellington region. In so doing, we engage critically with government, business, communities, and others in an independent and non-partisan manner. Our presence in the capital affords staff and students ready access to political, public sector, legal, diplomatic, cultural, creative, scientific, corporate, community, media, and non-governmental organisations, as well as to the nation’s archived and living heritage—its cultural taonga.

This civic engagement provides the opportunity to enrich national culture and to lead thinking on major issues affecting environmental, societal, cultural, and economic wellbeing. It positions the University to facilitate innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainable economic growth. And, in keeping with the international connections of Wellington and the University, it offers a valuable opportunity to create bridges between communities and to influence thinking in the wider Asia–Pacific region and global community.

Values and commitments

Our core ethical values are respect, responsibility, fairness, integrity, and empathy.

These core ethical values are demonstrated in our commitment to sustainability, wellbeing, inclusivity, equity, diversity, collegiality, and openness.

With, and as, tangata whenua, we value Te Tiriti o Waitangi, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, whai mātauranga, whanaungatanga, and akoranga. As an academic community, we prize excellence, intellectual rigour, critical inquiry, academic freedom, and institutional autonomy.

Leadership, curiosity, creativity, and entrepreneurship, whether social, cultural, scientific, or commercial, are at the heart of our capacity to imagine creative concepts, to express new possibilities, and to find new solutions to complex issues.


Our shared purpose is research, teaching, and engagement that transforms lives.

This is our collective mission in the service of our communities. It expresses why all of us, no matter what our role in the University, come to work each day.