Year in review

How research is thriving and the University is investing for the future are among the things captured by our review of the year.


Research at the University is thriving. In 2019, we were first for the second consecutive time in the Performance-Based Research Fund rankings for quality research intensity. The University was confirmed as having the highest proportion of top quality (A- and B-ranked) researchers in New Zealand.

We continued to perform well in measures of research relevance, with strong growth in research revenue and invention disclosures during the year. In addition, there was continued success in attracting external research income, with $81.3 million secured in 2019 and positive feedback on the quality of our research proposals.

An important milestone achieved in 2019 was the establishment of a Mātauranga Māori Research Fund to support bringing mātauranga Māori to bear on basic and applied research across the disciplines.

Teaching and learning

Considerable progress was made during the year towards our goal of ensuring our graduates are globally minded, civically engaged citizens with an understanding of international perspectives and ability to engage constructively with different communities.

Pleasing results during the year include 95% of our students assessing their teachers as good or very good, 81.1% of students completing their courses and 96% of our graduates in employment, further study, or not seeking work.

Our Trimester 3 offering was expanded in 2019, allowing students to complete their degree faster or start something new in the summer trimester.

The University also continued to expand its curriculum with new courses offered in areas such as communication, data science, intercultural communications, midwifery, Pasifika pathways, and design thinking and sustainability.


The University continued to achieve positive international rankings and, with 2019’s result, has improved 60 places in the QS World University Rankings in the past five years. Notably, the University also achieved the maximum 5 Stars Plus in the QS Stars rating of excellence, becoming one of only 12 universities in the world to do so.

Our partnerships flourished during the year, including those with Māori and with governments and agencies in the Pacific. In addition, a major philanthropic campaign—What if …—was launched during the year with a goal of raising $150 million by 2022.

Sustainability was a key focus for the University during the year and its commitment in this area resulted in our student leadership programme winning the ‘Benefitting Society’ category of the 2019 International Green Gown Awards.

Investing for the future

The University’s long-term health and sustainability was a focus for the year, with initiatives to ensure this including a visual identity refresh to emphasise our location in Wellington and strengthen our distinctiveness internationally. We also changed our Māori name to Te Herenga Waka.

Our refreshed Strategic Plan for the period 2020–2024 was launched in 2019, confirming our goal of being a world-leading capital city university and one of the great global-civic universities.

Other highlights include the release of our plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and the planned redevelopment of our marae complex as a Living Pā.