Year in review

How research is thriving and the University is working to ensure a sustainable future are among the things captured by our review of the year.

Research for transformative impact

  • The Centre for Justice Innovation, which offers an independent, impartial, and trusted voice on justice issues through multidisciplinary research, evaluation, and education, was established with the support of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation.
  • The University was named as a co-host of a government-funded Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) Development Platform, a dedicated science and technology hub which supports the design and production of RNA Therapeutics and mRNA vaccines in Aotearoa.
  • Scientists from the University's Paihau—Robinson Research Institute (RRI), alongside designers from Te Kura Hoahoa—the School of Design Innovation, won the Innovation Gold award for their world-first portable MRI scanner.
  • Te Whiri Kawe—Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, launched in June, brings together expertise and innovation in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning from faculties across the University.
  • The Centre for Strategic Studies—Te Pokapū Take Rautaki Aotearoa celebrated its 30th anniversary with a one-day symposium on ‘New Zealand, Japan and the Indo-Pacific Region’.
  • Nineteen projects led by Te Herenga Waka researchers were awarded grants in the 2023 Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden, the Marsden Fund, which means $11.97 million will be given to the University over three years.
  • Six projects were awarded over $17m from the 2023 Endeavour Fund, with a major research project, led by Associate Professor Jamie Howarth, investigating whether Wellington and central New Zealand will face an increased risk of more large earthquakes following the next big shake, receiving $12.6m of the total.
  • Results of a major nationwide study, conducted by Te Herenga Waka researchers and funded by Manatū Hauora—Ministry of Health, revealed the impacts of COVID-19 are worse for Māori, Pasifika, and disabled people.
  • Associate Professor Clive Aspin, Dr Mark Calcott, Professor Nicholas Golledge, Dr Mike Joy, and Professor Bev Lawton and her team from Te Tātai Hauora o Hine—National Centre for Women's Health Research Aotearoa received 2023 Research Honours awards which recognise research excellence and are presented annually by the Royal Society Te Apārangi and the Health Research Council.

Preparing students for an extraordinary life

  • The University launched its two-year Disability Inclusion Action Plan, which sets out a commitment to ensuring disabled staff and students are being supported to thrive and achieve their aspirations during their time here.
  • In partnership with VUWSA, and with support from a number of different University contractors, Te Herenga Waka staff offered free breakfasts to our students every second Wednesday over winter.
  • Te Pūrengi—Student Experience and Wellbeing hosted a one-day symposium, known as Mīharo, for around 150 staff focusing on connection, collaboration, and celebration, which provided staff an opportunity to learn about different student services and understand how students interacted with them.
  • A new initiative, He Waka Taukaea, was launched and aims to build a lasting connection with Wellington region secondary school students and to encourage them to feel at home at Te Herenga Waka.
  • Te Herenga Waka hosted its biggest Open Day to date, with 4,780 registrations, with the event hosted across all our campuses. For the first time, the Pipitea Campus delivered a full Open Day programme which saw large numbers visit the home of our Law and Business schools.
  • 94 students impacted by the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle in 2023 were supported through our Student Hardship Fund, which received donations for this initiative totalling over $13,000 from staff from across the University.
  • 576 students received winter energy payments. Donations from staff and partnering University service providers enabled our Hardship Fund to reach even further and support those impacted by increased electricity bills during winter.
  • 17 staff members received an Advance Higher Education Fellowship, which demonstrates they have met internationally recognised professional standards in teaching and supporting learning.
  • The inaugural Pasifika Roadshow featured seven information evenings in locations around the wider Wellington region, aimed at empowering future Pasifika students with information about life at Te Herenga Waka.
  • The Alumni as Mentors programme—which connects alumni with our final-year students—had the highest number of participants with 300 mentor/mentee matches.
  • On the first official day of winter 2023, students were able to pick up items—donated by staff—to help keep them warm during the colder Wellington months. This was followed by a generous donation of dress shirts to students who needed formalwear for graduation. Both initiatives were organised by the Student Finance team.
  • The Future Students team worked with faculties to offer a number of new subject specific engagement opportunities for secondary school audiences, including the Readers and Writers retreat, Engineering, Law, Commerce, Architecture and Design engagement days—hosting over 400 prospective students on-campus for interactive workshops and building their connection to our staff and students. High school teachers were invited to a range of new professional development seminars and workshops, and the University’s first on-campus conference for careers advisers since pre-COVID.
  • $24,000 was donated by alumni, which was matched by the Scholarships Office and the University Foundation, to fund 23 Cost of Living scholarships. Over 100 applications were received for this scholarship, which highlighted that escalating living costs were presenting numerous challenges to students and putting even more strain on already stretched financial situations.

Deepening relevance and impact

  • The School of Biological Sciences received a $13.5 million gift from the late Dr Aola Richards—an alumna, scientist and academic. Her gift, the largest in the University’s history, is intended to support postgraduate and postdoctoral research in entomology, reflecting her lifelong dedication to the field.
  • Sir Mark Dunajtschik donated $10 million to the Wellington Faculty of Engineering to establish a mechanical engineering programme.
  • The University and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra received a transformative $2 million gift from acclaimed filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dame Fran Walsh for state-of-the-art recording studios for Wellington’s national music centre.
  • Four exceptional alumni, venture capitalist and global agri-tech leader Arama Kukutai, Solicitor General of New Zealand Una Jagose, esteemed poet and author Tusiata Avia, and drug harm reduction advocate Wendy Allison, were named our 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award winners.
  • Te Herenga Waka hosted an education-focused debate with candidates from five of Aotearoa New Zealand’s main political parties, in the lead up to the 2023 general election, which was attended by around 250 staff, students, alumni, and stakeholders.
  • The University hosted a delegation from the People’s Republic of China, deepening our relationship with our most important international market, and signing a new memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Scholarship Council.
  • The Kelburn campus hosted Aotearoa New Zealand’s first ever poetry film festival, with screenings of international and local short films.
  • Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington ranked in the top 100 internationally in the QS World University Rankings for Sustainability.
  • The University ranked in the top 10 globally for ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ in the international Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings 2023.
  • Over half of the books on the 2023 longlist for the Ockham New Zealand Book awards were associated with our Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington community: 21 writers are alumni, two staff members, three former staff members, and one student.
  • The University’s Emergency Response Team, Victoria Rescue, achieved provisional National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) accreditation as a certified New Zealand response team.

Growing our iho

  • Professor Rangi Matamua (Tūhoe), FRSNZ, ONZM—one of Aotearoa’s most respected academics in the fields of Māori astronomy and star lore—received an honorary Doctor of Literature.
  • Construction continued on the Living Pā site, which aims to meet the Living Building Challenge® certification. Timber piles from the site were donated to the Mākara Peak Mountain Bike Park for use in their many development projects.
  • Kaimahi and rangatahi from across Te Herenga Waka community joined the Māori Language Moment during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and came together to kōrero (speak), waiata (sing), and pānui (read) in the Hub on the Kelburn campus. Academics from across Te Herenga Waka presented a webinar series for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, with more than 800 people attending these public sessions.
  • An action plan, developed by leading Māori researchers and practitioners, which calls for shared authority of Aotearoa’s special places to ensure a flourishing environment for future generations was launched on the Pipitea campus.
  • Two Māori Professors, appointed to positions at Te Kura Waihanga—Wellington School of Architecture, were welcomed to the University with a pōwhiri in February. Professor Rod Barnett (Ngāti Raukawa) was appointed Head of School at the School of Architecture and Derek Kawiti (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Tūhoe and Ngāti Porou) is a Professor in Māori Designed Environments.
  • Dr Bobby Luke (Ngāti Ruanui), a Lecturer at Te Kura Hoahoa—School of Design Innovation, was part of the vanguard of Māori fashion designers who proudly promoted Kaupapa Māori-led design at New Zealand Fashion Week 2023.
  • Law and Commerce student Metiria-Hinekorangi Makareta Tawhirikura Doyle (Ngaa Rauru, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Rangi, Te Ātihaunui-ā-Papārangi, and Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga me Te Atiawa hoki) was the first recipient of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research Scholarship in Māori Economics.
  • Associate Professor Clive Aspin (Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Tamaterā) received Te Rangi Hiroa Medal for his research into sexuality, HIV, and suicide prevention. His work has been influential in policy development and led to greater equity for Māori and indigenous peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Dr Maria Bargh (Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa) was promoted to Professor of Politics and Māori Studies at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, becoming the first wāhine Māori to achieve this position.