Finding the secrets of animal GPS: Professor Michael Walker

Everyone was blown away
It never pays to underestimate the power of determination. When Patricia (Trish) Johnston (Ngaiterangi, Ngāti Pikiao) arrived to take up the position as Professor of Postgraduate Studies and Research at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi she asked about basic research at the Wānanga and was told by one staff member it was something they didn’t do.

Five years on and following two research and two infrastructure grants from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, which were used to “saturate” staff with an intensive research programme, she can now claim remarkable success in helping change that perception. Last year Awanuiārangi participated in the performance-based research funding round from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), and in their very first application were twelfth overall in the country out of 31 tertiary institutions. “Everyone was blown away,” says Trish. “We couldn’t have even participated without the financial help of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.”

Awanuiārangi also became the newest MAI site in 2007. As well as the new PBRF funding, the Wānanga has also won research contracts from the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education Commission, the Marsden Fund and is involved in collaborative research projects with several other tertiary institutions. Now focussing primarily on developing further staff research capability and the graduate programmes at Awanuiārangi, Trish has in five years helped create a research culture that other institutions can take two decades to achieve. “People talk to us now,” she says.