Faculty celebrates Marsden Fund success

Three Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (FHSS) projects have received funding from the Government’s Marsden Fund. The projects have jointly secured over $1.7 million and are examples of the high-quality research that takes place in this Faculty.

The awarding of these three grants to FHSS researchers is “a wonderful result, particularly in this challenging year”, says Dean Professor Sarah Leggott. “I congratulate Rachel, Jo, and Victoria for their success in the very competitive Marsden process, and also acknowledge the time invested by all colleagues who submitted proposals in this year’s round".

Associate Professor Rachel McKee (School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies) has received a standard grant for her research project: Signs of development: Sociolinguistic variation and change in New Zealand Sign Language in times of status change and globalisation. This project will look at how innovation and change in New Zealand Sign Language correlates with the social characteristics of the users and the particular context in which the language is used.

Associate Professor Jo Smith (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) (School of English, Film, Theatre, Media and Communication, and Art History) and Dr Jessica Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Gujarati) have received a standard grant for their research project: Kai Ora: Food of Hope and Wellbeing. This project will investigate how kaupapa Māori approaches to food might transform what we eat, how we obtain it, and how we value it, particularly when imagining new food nation futures.

Dr Victoria Chen (School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies) has received a Fast-Start grant for her research project: Mountain or coast? Solving the Austronesian homeland puzzle. Austronesian is the second largest language family in the world (spoken from Madagascar to Polynesia and including Māori) but the origins of this language family and its primary diaspora remain a mystery. This project will bring together new linguistic data with the latest findings in archaeology and anthropology to re-examine the Austronesian homeland puzzle and enable a better understanding of the people of Southeast Asia, as well as Polynesian and Māori prehistory.

Overall, the Marsden Fund awarded 134 grants, with the University receiving funding for 27 projects overall. This is the highest number of grants for the University in the Fund’s 26-year history and the grants’ total value of more than $16 million is the most the University has received in a round.

Marsden Fund grants are for innovative thinking by top researchers and are administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.