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Frequently Asked Questions

Scheme Information

What are the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships?

Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao is Fellowship scheme for early-to-mid-career Māori and Pacific researchers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This is an MBIE initiative and will be administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Why has this scheme been created?

Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao is one of the first steps in implementing Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways to increase Māori and Pacific participation and progression in the Research Science and Innovation (RSI) workforce.

How are the Fellowships being funded?

These Fellowships are funded from two sources:

  • “Expanding the Impact of Vision Mātauranga” initiative funding that is allocated to attract and grow Māori talent in the research, science and innovation sector.
  • “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Capability Fund” which supports research organisations to identify and break down barriers to attracting, retaining and growing an equitable, diverse and inclusive workforce.

How much funding is available?

$19.3 million is available to support Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellows. Comprised of:

  • About $15 million from Expanding the Impact of Vision Mātauranga, available to support Māori Fellows.
  • about $4.5 million is available from the EDI Capability Fund, available to support Pacific Fellows.

Why is MBIE investing in Māori and Pacific Fellowships specifically?

We know from Te Ara Paerangi consultation and the MBIE research, science and innovation (RSI) Workforce Surveys that Māori and Pacific Peoples are severely underrepresented in our RSI workforce. These Fellowships intend to provide some immediate support for Māori and Pacific Peoples in the RSI workforce by growing leadership capability, reducing precarity, improving equity, diversity and inclusion and strengthening pathways through the public research system.

Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao is an early initiative in the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways reform programme to increase Māori and Pacific participation in the research workforce. This will be the subject of future Te Ara Paerangi announcements.

What is an early-to-mid-career researcher?

For Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao, early-to-mid-career researchers are defined as having 0-15 years of post-PhD research experience, with:

  • Early-career researchers having 0-6 years of post-PhD research experience.
  • Mid-career researchers having 7-15 years of post-PhD research experience.

If you need help calculating your years of research experience please see the application guidelines and use the Career Gaps Calculator.

What is the duration of the Fellowships?

Both early-career and mid-career Fellowships will have a four-year term. Fellowships are awarded on an 0.8 Full Time Equivalent basis, unless otherwise agreed.

What are the Fellowship award values?

Award values per annum and breakdown (excluding GST) are:


Early-career Fellowship

Mid-career Fellowship

Annual researcher salary contribution



Annual organisational overheads contribution



Annual research-related expenses



Total value (over four-years)



How many Fellows will be chosen?

We expect to support about 20 new Fellowships for a four-year duration, consisting of around 16 Māori and 5 Pacific Peoples Fellowships. This ratio is based on the funding sources for Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao.

Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao will aim to award about two thirds of available funding toward early-career researcher Fellowships and one third toward mid-career researcher Fellowships, as seen in international examples of Fellowship schemes.

The actual number of Fellows able to be supported will be determined by the applicant pool and the outcomes of the panel assessment process.

How will successful applicants be chosen?

Fellowships will be awarded based on a process consisting of:

  • Initial checking of all applications against the eligibility criteria, performed by The Royal Society Te Apārangi.
  • Eligible applications are assessed for suitability by an independent panel comprised of Māori and Pacific peoples.
  • Suitable applications will be randomly selected for Fellowship awards.

What is the purpose of suitability assessment performed by the panel?

Panel assessment is included to ensure all applications entering random selection are consistent with the background and objectives of the Fellowships. For example, when assessing applicant suitability, the panel may consider:

  • The applicant’s track record and potential to advance their career in STEM
  • The suitability of the host to support the Applicant throughout a Fellowship
  • The articulation of the research plan and its likelihood to deliver the research outcomes.

Who will be on the panel?

The panel will be independent and entirely comprised of Māori and Pacific peoples with the cultural expertise and research system experience needed to assess the career development potential of applicants.

Panel members are listed here and this page will be updated regularly as panel members are recruited.

Is this a one-off or will the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships be ongoing?

This is a short-term scheme, intended to be an immediate step toward providing more support for Māori and Pacific Peoples in the RSI workforce.

Future workforce initiatives under Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways will also have dedicated considerations for Māori and Pacific Peoples there will be opportunities to explore and broader how these funds are administered.

How is this initiative related to Te Ara Paerangi?

Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao is one of the first steps in implementing Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways, strongly aligning with Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways directions of “Embedding Te Tiriti”, “Valuing Our People” and “Empowering Pacific Peoples”.

While these Fellowships are short-term, longer-term workforce initiatives will be announced as part of introducing the RSI workforce policy package later this year.

What does Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao mean?

Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao refers to the early- and mid-career stage of scientific (Pūtaiao) researchers, when researchers are blooming and demonstrating their talent and potential (Puanga). At the same time, this career stage can be fragile and precarious. The Nga Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships will support researchers to be successful and progress to develop the new seeds for the next generation of STEM researchers.


I work in the field of clinical medical research, am I eligible to apply?

Clinical medical researchers (e.g., practising medical, dental, psychological or nurse graduates) are not eligible to apply for Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships.  The reason for this, is to avoid overlap with fellowships already available via the Health Research Council (HRC). Clinical medical researchers are encouraged to consider applying for Māori and/or Pacific HRC funding instead.

My research is STEM, but does not fall under the ANZSRC-FOR codes defined as STEM. Am I eligible to apply for Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships?

There are likely to be subcategories of FOR codes which could be considered to fall within STEM e.g. 380302 Mathematical economics or other indigenous research categories.  During the suitability assessment the panel may exclude projects they do not consider sufficiently STEM focussed, in alignment with the Ngā Puianga Pūtaiao Fellowship Terms of Reference.  To aid them in this decision ensure that you describe your STEM research in the “How have you contributed to the generation, revitalisation, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge?” section in the Narrative CV template.

Are Mātauranga Māori and other indigenous knowledge systems considered within the definition of STEM for the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships?

We recognise that STEM exists within Mātauranga Māori and other indigenous knowledge systems, and these systems offer valuable perspectives toward STEM research. These knowledge systems are also broad and complex, encompassing much more than just the STEM fields that are the focus of the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships. During suitability assessment the panel will consider the STEM focus of the proposed project, including incorporation of STEM through Mātauranga Māori or other indigenous knowledge systems. To facilitate the panel’s assessment ensure that you describe any aspects of your STEM research that are drawn from Mātauranga Māori or other indigenous knowledge systems in the “How have you contributed to the generation, revitalisation, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge?” section in the Narrative CV template.

My research is multidisciplinary, can I apply for Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships?

At least 50% of the proposed research should fall under one or more of the ANZSRC FOR codes considered STEM for the purposes of this Fellowship.  The other 50% or less of the project can include other ANZSRC FOR codes to facilitate inclusivity of multidisciplinary projects.

I am permanently employed in a research position, am I eligible to apply?

Unfortunately no, only people employed in non-research position or on a fixed term contract shorter than the fellowship term (four years) are eligible to apply.  One of the aims of the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowships is to help with career precarity, therefore the choice was made to support researchers in non-permanent positions.

What is meant by a "research position"?

Applicants should normally not currently hold a research role, unless that role is fixed-term for a period that is less than the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowship term (four years). Those who are employed in a technical or teaching capacity would normally be eligible if the role requires at least 80% of their time to be spent on these activities.

I am not an Aotearoa New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident, am I able to get an exemption to apply?

If you meet all other eligibility criteria apart from the Aotearoa New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency, it may be possible for you to receive an exemption to apply e.g. if you whakapapa Māori, but are an Australian citizen, and therefore are deemed to hold a New Zealand Resident (but not Permanent Resident) Visa, and can demonstrate a commitment to New Zealand research.  Please contact the Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowship secretariat via email puanga@royalsociety.org.nz or phone + 64 4 470 5764 to discuss this. 

I am an Australian Citizen, does this mean I have a permanent resident visa?

As an Australian Citizen you can be granted a resident visa upon arrival in New Zealand. However, you can only apply for a permanent resident visa after having continuously held a resident visa for 24 months and fulfil other criteria for a permanent resident visa. However, you may be eligible for an exemption (as above).

Who is included within Pacific Peoples for the Purposes of the Fellowship?

MBIE have deemed, for the purposes of this Fellowship, Pacific ethnicity is intended to take into consideration the complex configurations and multiple ethnic identities of Pacific Peoples and cultures. It is intended to be inclusive of people who affirm their identity as Indigenous Pacific Peoples and those of Fijian Indian descent.

Application Content

Can I include images and/or tables in my application?

You are welcome to include images and/or tables in your application.  You must still comply to the page limits, margins and other formatting as outlined in the 'How to submit your application' section of the application guidelines.

Should I provide references for my research proposal?

Yes, you should include references with your research proposal.  These should be included within the page count of the proposed research template.

What do I do if I have fallen out with my former supervisor and I can’t ask them for a referee report?

There may be certain situations where it is not possible or appropriate for a former supervisor to provide a referee report for your Ngā Puanga Pūtaiao Fellowship application. If this is the case for you, please contact the Secretariat via email puanga@royalsociety.org.nz or phone + 64 4 470 5764 explaining your unique situation, and we can approve the use of an alternative referee (e.g. a secondary supervisor, or a senior research colleague) if the situation calls for it.

Should the 'Host Suitability' section be generic for a whole institution or specific for each applicant?

Parts of this page may be generic to all applicants from an institution (e.g. Host commitment to embed te Tiriti o Waitangi) and other parts should include how the specific fellow will be supported depending on their cultural background, STEM research field, research approaches and other aspects.  There might be specific support structures or research requirements in a particular department/school, that may not be applicable to all applicants from the same institution.


The overheads at my organisation are less than 100%, what happens to the overhead allocation?

Overheads may be less than 100% for some research organisations.  If this is the case for you, your organisation is still entitled to receive the 100% allocation.  Any funds not contributing towards overheads should be used in other ways that align with the fellowship e.g. for infrastructure to support the research of the fellowship or to develop cultural support program(s) within the organisation.