Engaging academics

Find out about our Engagement Excellence Award recipients, and their achievements in communicating their research and contributing to public debate.

2020 Engagement Excellence Award

Monica Gerth and Grant Guilford at the Awards ceremony.

Our academics are passionate about finding solutions to some of the world’s trickiest problems, and their contributions are making a real difference in our communities.

Our annual Staff Awards are a celebration that recognises staff across the University who have demonstrated excellence and played a key role in helping us achieve our vision.

The 2020 Engagement Excellence Award has been awarded to Dr Monica Gerth from the School of Biological Sciences.

Dr Monica Gerth is a public voice on kauri dieback and the need for integration of mātauranga Māori in the efforts to save these taonga trees. She also leads two ongoing science outreach programmes, Te Kura o Te Kauri and My Science Penpal, which have collectively reached more than 1,500 New Zealand school students.

Access our expertise and explore ways you or your organisation can share in our knowledge.

Public lecture series

Our public lecture series gives you the opportunity to engage with the latest thinking about topical issues.

To stay informed of upcoming public events and lectures at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, sign up to the public lecture mailing list.

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Previous winners


Professor Marc Wilson, School of Psychology

Professor Marc Wilson is well known for his commentary and public comment regarding all things psychological. His research is characterised by engagement with national communities, both in how it is conducted and how he and his collaborators feed the research results back to those people with whom they have collaborated. As well as his weekly Listener column, Marc has collected thousands of New Zealanders’ surveys through collaborations with media, as well as providing expert consultation to ministries and the Government around adolescent mental health and the Christchurch terror attacks.


Professor Lisa Marriott, School of Accounting and Commercial Law

Professor Lisa Marriott produces topical research with a strong focus on social justice, particularly
as it relates to tax and welfare. Her engagement activity is broad and ranges from public seminars
to print, radio, and television media. She enhances the University’s status in the wider community
through her engagement with school students, teachers, the public sector, the accounting profession, and others. Lisa has provoked considerable media and public interest in different strands of her research, including comparing tax evasion and welfare fraud, as well as her more recent work on sugar taxes and environmental taxes.

Professor James Renwick, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

Professor James Renwick plays a major role in advancing public understanding of climate
variations and in raising public awareness of the threat of climate change. He has a strong ability
to communicate complex science in a straightforward manner across a variety of media, and there
are few others active in communicating science in New Zealand who have such a broad impact.
James regularly gives presentations to industry and public groups and makes frequent media
appearances, averaging more than one engagement activity every week. He is active on social media
and contributes to many online news sites, including Newsroom, The Spinoff, The Conversation,
and Hot Topic.


Dr Maria Bargh, Te Kawa a Māui/School of Māori Studies

Dr Maria Bargh’s research and engagement with the media raises awareness about the connection between levels of Māori political participation, particularly in general elections, and the need for greater awareness of Treaty obligations and for constitutional change.

Dr Dean Knight, School of Law

Dr Dean Knight engages with different communities about public law and its contemporary issues. He has organised and spoken at numerous conferences, public lectures and events for professional, civic and judicial audiences. He is a regular public voice on civic developments and has assisted community organisations with legal issues.