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Rutherford Discovery Fellowship proposal guidelines 2023

Download the 2023 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship proposal guidelines


General information for applicants | Ngā kōrero arowhānui mā ngā kaitono

This document contains general information about the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships and what information is expected in each section of the proposal.

Changes as of 2023 | Ngā rerekētanga mō te tau 2023

  • As a condition of contract, research outputs fully or partially arising from Rutherford Discovery Fellowship funding must meet the MBIE Open Research Policy

Background to the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships | He whakamārama

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships are administered by Royal Society Te Apārangi (the Society). The Fellowships will develop and foster the future leaders in the New Zealand science and innovation system.[1] They will attract and retain New Zealand’s most talented early-to mid-career researchers and encourage their career development by enabling them to establish a track record for future research leadership. It is expected that Fellows, throughout their careers, will contribute to positive outcomes for New Zealand.

Receipt of a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship is expected to have significant value in the future career development and leadership potential of a researcher.

Objective | Ngā whāinga

The objectives of the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships are to support the development of future research leaders, and to assist with the retention and repatriation of New Zealand's talented early-to mid-career researchers. The scheme will support early-to mid-career researchers to develop a strong track record, allowing them to compete with the best researchers in New Zealand and the world for mainstream research funds.

Scheme operation | Whakahaere o te kaupapa

The scheme will award a contribution of $70,000 per year towards the researcher's salary, $60,000 in research related expenses, and $30,000 per year for the host organisations to support the Fellow’s research programme.

Fellowships are awarded on a full-time basis of which at least 85% (or 0.85 FTE) of the Fellow’s time must be dedicated to the research objectives identified in the proposal, unless an exemption to this requirement has been approved by the Society. The remainder of their time may be used for other research, teaching and non-research related development opportunities.

As a condition of the Fellowship, Fellows will participate in an annual workshop organised by the Society. These workshops should provide multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional links across the science and innovation sector.[1]

At the end of the Fellowship period Fellows will present the findings and demonstrate the impact of their research at an appropriate forum identified by the Society.

Eligibility criteria | Ngā paearu āheitanga

The award criteria must ensure successful proposals are consistent with the background and objectives of the Fellowships stated above.

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships are open to early-to mid-career researchers with the potential to become leaders in the New Zealand science and innovation system. For the purpose of this scheme, early-to mid-career researchers are researchers whose doctoral degrees were conferred between three to eight years prior to the year in which the Fellowship is awarded.

  • For the 2023 funding round, applicants’ PhD must have been conferred between 01 January 2015 and 31 December 2020.

For applicants with more than one PhD, the conferment date of the first PhD should be used unless otherwise approved by the Society.

The eligibility period may be extended under the following scenarios:

  • Extended sickness leave or part-time employment as a result of ongoing childcare or other care giving responsibilities. Applicants can, with the prior approval of the Society, have their eligibility extended on a calculated pro rata for the year count.
  • Eligibility may also be extended to take into account any career interruptions experienced due to being the primary caregiver for young children born since their PhD was awarded. If the applicant is the primary caregiver of a dependent child, the applicant is able to
    extend the period of eligibility by two years per child. The extension of two years per dependent child is inclusive of any periods of parental leave. There is no maximum identified.

Eligibility extensions must be approved by the Rutherford Discovery Fellowship Secretariat. For help determining if you are eligible for an extension, please refer to the Rutherford Discovery Fellowship website for a career gaps calculator. The Society reserves the right to request documentation to support any claim for exemption to the 3-8 year post-PhD conferment rule.

Applicants must:

  • be either New Zealand citizens or applicants who have continuously resided in New Zealand for at least three months prior to their application and hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa.
  • be associated with a New Zealand-based research institution that can provide the appropriate support and facilities to enable the applicant to succeed in their Fellowship for the full five years of the Fellowship's term.

[1]       This includes research in science, technologies, and humanities.


Flowchart of key eligibility criteria at the time of application | Tūtohiripo o ngā paearu āheinga hira i te wā tono

Flowchart of key eligibility criteria at the time of application

Timetable | Wātaka



Thu 02 Mar 2023

Proposals On-Line web-based application system (portal) opens

Thu 27 Apr 2023

Proposals On-Line portal closes, 5pm New Zealand Standard Time (NZST)

Thu 25 May 2023

Deadline for receipt of applicant-solicited referee reports by the Secretariat of the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships, 5pm NZST

Thu 01 Jun 2023

Applications are available to discipline-based panels

Thu 01 Jun 2023 or
Tue 06 Jun 2023

Discipline panellists briefing video conference from 10am-11am, or 2pm-3pm, respectively. Panellist to choose one of the two dates offered

Thu 06 Jul 2023

Last day for discipline-based panellists to submit their recommendations to the Secretariat

Tue 18 Jul 2023

The long-listed proposals are sent to the interview panel

Fri 18 Aug 2023

Last day for interview panellists to submit their recommendations to the Secretariat

Fri 25 Aug 2023

Interview panel selects a short list of candidates to interview

Wed 4 Oct and Thu 5
Oct 2023

Interviews conducted by the interview panel. Dates to be confirmed

Oct 2023 (TBC)

Results announced

Assessment criteria | Paearu aromatawai

For the current funding round the following assessment criteria and weightings will be used:

  1. Calibre of the applicant as a researcher 60%
  2. Calibre of the applicant as a research leader 20%
  3. Calibre of the proposed research programme 20%

The assessment of Vision Mātauranga is applied across all three criteria where relevant to the individual proposal.

In the case of applicants of the same calibre, preference will be given to applicants who:

  • do not already have tenure or equivalent, or
  • who are living overseas and will use the Fellowship to return to New Zealand to continue their research careers.

Proposals are assessed on the information provided in the application, the accompanying forms and the applicant’s self-nominated referee reports.

Additional rules | Ngā ture tāpiri

  • If the applicant is not already an employee of the host institution, the host must agree to employ the applicant for the duration of the Fellowship.
  • An applicant may make only one application for a Fellowship in any one application round.
  • Where an applicant has previously submitted an unsuccessful application, they should discuss their subsequent application with the Fellowship Coordinator before reapplying.
  • Successful applicants must commence their programme of research within a year of the award notification.
  • The Fellowship is open to applicants from the life and physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, humanities and social sciences.
  • The Fellowship is open to fundamental and applied researchers.
  • Private research companies need to contact the Secretariat of the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships to check eligibility as a host institution.

Using the application portal | Te whakamahi i te tomokanga tono

Before beginning the process of applying, please ensure that you have read the information available on Rutherford Discovery Fellowships on our website.

Proposals On-Line

  • Proposals are to be submitted on the web-based system, or portal, Proposals On-Line.
  • Researchers must contact their host institution’s research office coordinator to obtain their login details for the Proposals On-Line system.
  • Researchers should write their proposals directly into Proposals On-Line using the forms and templates provided (these can be downloaded from Proposals On-Line) with the original formatting retained.
  • Please note that paper copies are not required when submitting a proposal through the web using Proposals On-Line. Proposals On-Line has a document printing facility which should be used to print the final page of the proposal. It may also be used to print the entire document for checking and your own records.
  • The layout of the entire application on Proposals On-Line is automatic. The limit on space in all sections of the templates should be adhered to and the typeface should be 12 point ‘Times’, or of similar size font, single spacing (12 point), with margins of 2 cm on the left and 2 cm on the right sides of the page. Instructions may be removed, but not the margins. No additional pages or attachments will be accepted other than where requested or required.

Application numbers

Your login and application number can be obtained from your institution’s research office. Please contact them if you are interested in applying. When you have received your proposal logon to Proposals On-Line, a unique application number will automatically be generated at the top of each page of the application form, along with your name and initials as the Principal Investigator.

The example below shows Dr AB Smith has applied to the Life Sciences panel with 6 years’ worth of post-PhD research experience (R6).


Applicant’s Surname


Proposal Number







Filling out the application form | Te whakakī i te puka tono

1          Identification

This section is for personal details. It identifies who you are and where you can be contacted most readily. Complete this section, providing all details. If any of your contact details should change at any stage after the application is submitted, please inform the Society as soon as possible.

ORCID: There is a facility in this section of the portal for applicants to add or create an ORCID ID. An ORCID ID is preferred from all applicants, but is not mandatory. Please click on the “Create or Connect your ORCID ID” button on the top right of the “Contact Details” section and follow the instructions.

2          Eligibility

Scan and upload a copy of your academic transcript showing when your doctoral degree was conferred. The Society reserves the right to request original or certified copies of the documents if you are invited to interview. This information will NOT be released to the panellists.

Scan and upload proof of citizenship or residency. The original or certified copies of the documents will be required if you are invited to interview. This information will NOT be released to the panellists.

From the Terms of Reference for the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships the selection criteria state that in the case of applicants of the same calibre, preference will be given to applicants who do not have tenure or equivalent; or, who are living overseas and will use the Fellowship to return to New Zealand to continue their research careers. To assist the panel with determining this and the final selection of Fellows, the following two questions must be addressed:

  • Are you currently living overseas and plan to use the Fellowships to return to New Zealand? (YES/NO)
  • Are you currently employed under a permanent employment contract? (YES/NO)

3          Research area (incl. research experience)

Research experience

Please provide the number of years of research experience you have attained after conferment of your doctoral degree. This should be a whole number between three to eight years and exclude any agreed career interruptions for parental leave, extended sickness leave, or other research breaks. If applicants have more than one PhD, the first conferred date will be used unless otherwise approved by the Society. This will aid panellists in assessing your proposal, under the selection criteria, relative to the opportunity you have had. Note that periods of part-time work can be factored in by multiplying the length of time with the FTE component for the period, for example, 1 year working at 0.5 FTE counts for half a year of research experience etc. Any applicants who have had career interruptions (due to parental leave, illness, longer periods of part time work, etc.) should additionally list these interruptions in the text box underneath section 1e of the CV template “Total years research experience”. The information included here should further aid panellists in assessing your research relative to opportunity. The Society reserves the right to request further documentation supporting your stated years of research experience.

Note that if you have more than eight years research experience but you are still eligible to apply for a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship due to the eligibility extension for primary caregivers of dependent children, you should list your research experience as eight years.


Please select the most appropriate panel to assess your application using the following information as a guide:

Humanities and the Social Sciences (HSS)

Research related to the human condition or aspects of human society.

This includes, but not limited to: English; languages; history; religion; philosophy; law; classics; linguistics; literature; cultural studies; media studies; art history; film; economics; education; psychology (cognitive, social, developmental, organisational, community and health); cognitive science; linguistics; archaeology; anthropology; sociology; social, cultural and human geography; social anthropology; architecture, urban design and environmental studies; public health; nursing; public policy; marketing; political science; and business studies.

Life Sciences (LFS)

Research related to understanding the activities that occur in cells and tissues and the interrelationships between organisms and their environment.

This includes, but not limited to: physiology (animal or plant), pathology (animal or plant), pharmacology, molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, microbiology; neurobiology and neuropsychology (including animals as a model species for humans); animal behaviour; population biology genetics; functional genomics and related bioinformatics; biostatistics and modelling; animal, plant and microbial ecology; biogeography; biodiversity; phylogenetics; systematics and evolution; biophysics, chemical biology; and biochemistry.

Physical Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics (PEM)

Research related to the physical world and mathematics.

This includes, but not limited to: physics; physical chemistry; organic chemistry; analytical chemistry; inorganic chemistry; pure and applied mathematics; statistics; logic, theoretical and engineering aspects of computer and information sciences; complexity theory; operations research; nanotechnology; software and hardware engineering; applications and robotics; materials science; engineering (including bioengineering and other cross-disciplinary research activities); geology; geophysics; physical geography; oceanography; hydrology; meteorology; atmospheric science; earth sciences; astronomy; and astrophysics.

Fields of research (FOR) classification

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) FOR classification allows research and development (R&D) activity to be categorised according to the field of research. In this respect, it is the methodology used in the R&D that is being considered. These codes have recently been updated (ANZSRC 2020). Please enter up to three codes from the following website:


Please use codes that are as specific as possible. Also indicate project key words or phrases not exceeding 255 characters in total (separated by commas or semi-colons; please do not use the return key).

Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) classification

The ANZSRC SEO classification allows R&D activity in Australia and New Zealand to be categorised according to the intended purpose or outcome of the research rather than the processes or techniques used in order to achieve this objective. The purpose categories include processes, products, health, education and other social and environmental aspects in Australia and New Zealand that R&D activity aims to improve. These codes have also recently been updated. Please enter up to three codes from the following website:


Please use codes that are as specific as possible. Also indicate project key words or phrases not exceeding 255 characters in total (separated by commas or semi-colons; please do not use the return key).

4          Vision Mātauranga themes

Vision Mātauranga is a policy about innovation, opportunity and the creation of knowledge that highlights the potential contribution of Māori knowledge, resources and people.

Applicants must identify which, if any, of the four Vision Mātauranga themes below are associated with the proposed research. If this is not applicable to your proposed research, you must tick N/A AND provide a brief rationale for this decision.

The four themes are:

  • Indigenous Innovation, which involves contributing to economic growth through distinctive research and development
  • Taiao, which is concerned with achieving environmental sustainability through iwi and hapū relationships with land and sea
  • Hauora/Oranga, which centres around improving health and social wellbeing
  • Mātauranga, which involves exploring indigenous knowledge.

Collection of the % contribution of each Vision Mātauranga theme to the proposed research forms part of our reporting obligations for the New Zealand Research Information System (NZRIS). If you have ticked one or more Vision Mātauranga themes, please consider each theme one at a time. Indicate the proportion of the proposed research that aligns with that theme. It is possible for the combined total to be over 100% (for example, if the proposed research is entirely Mātauranga and also has a Hauora/Oranga theme, the contributions could be 100% and 10% respectively).

If one or more themes apply to your proposed research programme, up to one additional page will be available for the research section (Section 9-12) of the application. This gives applicants an opportunity to more easily integrate Vision Mātauranga into the conceptual framework and/or research design of the proposed programme, for example, demonstration of consultation, linkages, outcomes or other relevant information. Alternatively, applicants may to choose to gather all relevant Vision Mātauranga information under a separate heading (Section 11) under the Research Programme template, or use any combination of information across sections 9-12. Aspects of Vision Mātauranga relating to relevant experience can be included in Section 6 – Research leadership. Where Vision Mātauranga is appropriate to a proposal, it can contribute to the assessment of its overall excellence.

How do I decide whether my proposal aligns with Vision Mātauranga?

The five ways of conceptualising Vision Mātauranga in your research may help you decide if this applies to your project. The categories have been adapted from those on the National Science Challenge, Biological Heritage website hosted by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. Please note, however, that these categories are fluid. There may well be overlap between them as in categories b and c in terms of the nature and degree of relevance to Māori, and not every point in each category need apply. The original categories were set out by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment in information for the Endeavour Fund c. 2015.

a. Research with no specific Māori component

  • No mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is used.
  • Māori are not associated with the research process (for example, not on any research management / advisory / governance panels, it is not inclusive of Māori land or institutions, nor the subject of any component of the research).
  • Work is not likely to be of greater direct relevance to Māori than members of any other group.

b. Research specifically relevant to Māori

  • There is specific relevance to Māori.
  • Mātauranga Māori may be used in a minor way to guide the work and its relevance to Māori.
  • It includes work that contributes to Māori aspirations and outcomes.

c. Research involving Māori

  • Mātauranga Māori may be incorporated in the project, but is not central to the project.
  • Research is specifically and directly relevant to Māori and Māori are involved in the design and/or undertaking of the research.
  • The work typically contributes to Māori (for example, iwi, hapū, organisations) aspirations and outcomes.

d. Māori-centred research

  • The project is Māori led, and where Mātauranga Māori is used alongside other knowledges (for example, through frameworks, models, methods, tools, etc.).
  • Kaupapa Māori research is a key focus of the project.
  • Research is typically collaborative or consultative, with direct input from Māori stakeholders.
  • There is alignment with and contribution to Māori (for example, iwi, hapū, organisations) aspirations.

e. Kaupapa Māori research

  • Mātauranga Māori is incorporated, used and understood, as a central focus of project and its findings.
  • Research is grounded in te ao Māori and connected to Māori philosophies and principles.
  • Research typically uses kaupapa Māori research methodologies.
  • Te reo Māori may be a central feature to this kaupapa or research activity, and the applicant has medium to high cultural fluency or knowledge of tikanga and reo.
  • The research is generally led by a Māori researcher; non-Indigenous researchers may carry out research under the guidance/mentoring of a Māori researcher.
  • Māori participation (iwi/hapū/marae/individual) is high.
  • The work contributes strongly to Māori (for example, iwi, hapū, organisations) aspirations and outcomes and is mana enhancing.

Developing a Vision Mātauranga statement

It is important to keep in mind that there is no single approach or prescription for Vision Mātauranga: one size does not fit all and there are many possible ways of addressing Vision Mātauranga. Vision Mātauranga should not, however, be seen as an add-on, nor should it be treated as separate from the research, methods or people involved in the project. A holistic approach that considers reciprocity and relationships is therefore desirable. It is also essential that any costs associated with Vision Mātauranga capability development and engagement are accounted for in the budget (section 14).

Vision Mātauranga does not begin and end with your Vision Mātauranga statement. You should document how you have considered Vision Mātauranga and demonstrate applicable actions and relationships throughout the research. The following questions may be useful to consider when conceptualising and writing your project:

  • Have you co-created the research topic/issue with an iwi or Māori organisation?
  • What does working in partnership with iwi mean to you as a researcher?
  • To what extent have you discussed the research with Māori stakeholders and agreed on the methodology you will use?
  • Was there full disclosure and informed consent to the proposed research with Māori stakeholders? How has that agreement/informed consent been agreed to?
  • Has the budget been disclosed and agreed to with Māori partners? Is there provision in that budget for Māori involvement, capability development and consultation?
  • What provisions have you made to ensure there is appropriate technology transfer to Māori stakeholders as the research proceeds and as findings become available towards the end of the project?
  • Are there benefits to Māori? What are they? And how have these been agreed with Māori partners?
  • How is the project an opportunity to build the capacity of Māori researchers or students in your discipline?
  • How will you share the research outcomes with Māori?
  • Has there been agreement about the intellectual property ownership of research findings with Māori partners? What is the nature of that agreement?
  • Is there a need for members of the research team to be proficient in te reo? How has this aspect been addressed?
  • Is there a Tiriti o Waitangi component or requirement in your research?
  • Is the research mana enhancing?

Vision Mātauranga resources

Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of published resources that describe, discuss, and talk about how researchers have engaged with Vision Mātauranga and kaupapa Māori research. These range from early conceptions of Vision Mātauranga to more recent frameworks. The resources underscore the diverse ways Vision Mātauranga may be approached across disciplines and methodologies.

For a glossary provided to panellists and referees of commonly used Māori concepts, words and phrases commonly seen in Rutherford Discovery Fellowship proposals, please see Appendix I: Glossary of te reo Māori terms.

5           Curriculum Vitæ

To assist the panel in assessing your calibre as a researcher, please upload an up-to-date curriculum vitæ. Please use the NZ RS&T-CV template provided by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology – this is also available on the web portal. Only sections PART 1 through to PART 2a are required to be completed.

6          Research leadership

To assist the panel in assessing your calibre as a research leader, using only ONE page, please demonstrate an emerging leadership role in the New Zealand research community. Please use the template provided on the web-based portal. This is also accessible through the web portal. Expected sources of evidence may include but are not limited to: team leadership roles; student numbers and completions; leadership in Mātauranga Māori; board memberships; community leadership; project management responsibilities; quality of stakeholder relationships; external grant funding as a named investigator; invitations to present keynote or plenary presentations; presence in relevant research communities; collaborator networks; knowledge transfer activity; significant contribution to achievement of commercialisation milestones; indications of peer-esteem; entrepreneurial activity; thought leadership (for example, conceptual development of a research field internationally); and, direct policy facing or public engagement work. If appropriate, please also indicate the future direction you wish to develop your research leadership skills.

7          Programme title

Provide a title that describes the nature of your proposed programme of research. Keep the title brief and to the point. The title of your proposal should be free of jargon and technical terms and clearly describe your research. It should be no more than 30 words in length. The Society reserves the right to request the title be amended if it doesn’t adequately describe the nature of the research being undertaken.

8          Summary

Using a maximum of 500 words, please clearly describe the nature of your proposed research in a form that can be understood by non-specialists. It may be used for reporting and public information.

Notes on sections 9–12 | Ngā tuhituhi mō ngā wāhanga 9-12

Sections 9–12 will be used to assist the panel in assessing the quality of your research plan.

  • If no Vision Mātauranga theme is identified in Section 4, the TOTAL page limit for sections 9-12 is THREE pages, with no set limit for each section within this. You may delete section 11- Vision Mātauranga from the template.
  • If one or more Vision Mātauranga theme is identified in Section 4, the TOTAL page limit for sections 9-12 is FOUR pages, with no set limit for each section within this.

NOTE that the additional space of up to one page provided for proposals aligned with a Vision Mātauranga theme, is solely for providing additional information related to Vision Mātauranga. Applications that fill this space with information that is not relevant to Vision Mātauranga will be assessed less favourably than applications that fulfil the intent of the extra space.

It is up to the applicant to decide on how much space to allocate to each section. Please read the definitions of these sections clearly and avoid repetition.

The scope of research may be broader than that of a single defined project, where there is often a limited three-year period in which to complete the proposed objectives. It should be possible to address some of the larger themes of a research area in the five-year term of a programme of research. In doing so, you may have more than one specific question or inter-related projects to pursue.

If you are using figures, please note that panellists may to choose to print proposals in black and white although an electronic version in colour is supplied to them.

9          Programme design and rationale

Give a brief overview of the design of the proposed research, and indicate how it relates to work already done, by yourself and/or others, in this field. Please give consideration to offering both a primary design and an alternative plan.

10      Research objective(s) and method(s)

State your proposed research objectives, methods, timetable, data sources, and how you plan to transfer the knowledge gained from your research.

11      Vision Mātauranga

As noted under section 4, applicants may integrate Vision Mātauranga into the conceptual framework and/or research design of the proposed programme, for example, demonstration of consultation, linkages, outcomes or other relevant information. Alternatively, applicants may to choose to gather all relevant Vision Mātauranga information under a separate heading (Section 11) under the Research Programme template, or use any combination of information across sections 9-12.

12      References

It is important to support sections 9-11 by means of references. Please ensure that these are not restricted to your own work. Please also ensure that the references have been published, to ensure that they are readily accessible when the proposal is being assessed. Authors must verify all references.

  • The list can be in 10-point font size.
  • Start each reference on a new line (numbering is optional).
  • For three or more authors, list the first three names followed by “et al.”
  • Ensure you include the journal name (abbreviated if desired), year of publication, volume number and page numbers.
  • If you wish, you can bold your own references.

Please note the following examples created by R Siegel along with the format and punctuation (ordered in Journal, Book, Chapter in a book and Web site):

  1. Jemal A, Siegel R, Ward E, et al. Cancer Statistics, 2008. CA: Cancer J Clin 2008; 58:71-96; DOI: 10.3322/CA.2007.0010.
  2. Carroll PR, Grossfeld GD, Steele GD, et al. American Cancer Society Atlas of Clinical Oncology: Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker; (2002).
  3. Park BH, Vogelstein B. Tumor-Suppressor Genes. In: Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al, eds. Cancer Medicine. 6th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker; 2003:87-106.
  4. Health on the Net Foundation. Health on the Net Foundation code of conduct (HONcode) for medical and health Web sites. Available at: http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html. Accessed August 26, 2003.

13      FTE table

The personnel information requested in this section should contain the total time that each researcher will spend on the project. List the time involvement of personnel in terms of a Full Time Equivalent (expressed as a proportion of full-time equivalent - FTE: 0.1 means 10% of one FTE). For example, if the research assistant were to commit one day per week to the proposed research this would be expressed as 0.20 FTE.

Fellowships are awarded on a full-time basis of which at least 85% (or 0.85 FTE) of the Fellow’s time must be dedicated to the research objectives identified in the proposal. The remainder of their time may be used for other research, teaching and non-research related development opportunities. An exemption to the full-time clause requires prior approval from the Society. Current exemptions may be sought for applicants who are required to fulfil childcare obligations. Applicants wishing to submit part time proposals will need to commit a minimum of 0.5 FTE and have approved personnel named in the application at a minimum of 0.35 FTE to maintain the 0.85 FTE requirement. The named personnel will be exempt from overhead costs in a similar manner to a full-time applicant.

Provide all names – except when they are as yet unknown for such people as postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students. All FTEs should be included regardless of whether funding is being requested. Note that the total time that is to be devoted to the programme will form part of the contractual obligations to the Society.

Fellows are permitted, and encouraged, to continue to be involved with existing or new projects requiring a time commitment in excess of 0.15 FTE, where these are aligned with the objectives of their Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. In these situations, Fellows should use released funds to support others to assist with these projects. After award of a Fellowship, details of the variations are subject to agreement by the Society.

14      Budget

Download the budget spreadsheet template. There are four components to this budget, each on a separate worksheet: Budget, Direct costs, Sub-contractors, and Other funding. When the Direct costs and sub-contractors worksheets are completed, the front Budget worksheet should automatically update these line items.

The value of the award will provide annual contributions (excluding GST) of: $70,000 towards the researcher's salary; $60,000 in research related expenses; and, $30,000 for the host organisation.

Vision Mātauranga costs

If a proposal contains one or more Vision Mātauranga themes, it is essential that any costs associated with Vision Mātauranga capability development and engagement are accounted for in the budget. Examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Research assistant time.
  • Student stipend support.
  • Costs of engagement or consultation (direct expenses). Examples could include: donation to the organisation or marae committee as a way of recognising expertise and contribution; koha; vouchers; providing resources such as books or research findings to the communities involved.
  • Costs of dissemination (for example, hui) – direct expenses.


The figures in this category are to cover only the costs of personnel employed on the research proposal in the application. This should include the direct costs (i.e. salary) and salary related costs (for example, superannuation, ACC and fringe benefits). Any subcontracted personnel should not be included in this section but incorporated under the Sub-contractors worksheet.

The FTEs of personnel shown in the budget page should only be those where costs and time are associated with Rutherford Discovery Fellowship funding. If this funding is not sought for particular individuals (for example, overseas investigators, post-doctoral researchers with stand-alone fellowships, or postgraduate students with other sources of funding) then the individual should still be named on the budget page but with zero FTEs recorded (please note this is different from the FTE table where contribution of researcher time is recorded regardless of whether funding is being requested).

Post-doctoral researchers may be part-time (usually 0.3 FTE or more) or full-time on your proposal. This should be indexed to L1 to L3 salary scales. Please check with your host institution for more information.

Postgraduate students are awarded scholarships free of income tax and may be supported on your proposal on a fixed-rate basis. For 2023 this is set at $35,00 stipend per year, plus fees (New Zealand resident rates) for PhD students or $22,000 stipend plus fees (New Zealand resident rates) for Masters students. These figures assume the postgraduate students are assigned to the research on a full-time basis. Fees should be included in the direct costs.

Indirect costs

Fellowships are accompanied by an award of $30,000 per year as a host contribution. This is represented under indirect costs on the budget spreadsheet. Indicate the cost of any additional overheads that relate to personnel other than the PI. These should be directly proportional to the time spent on the programme of research. Overheads include managerial time not included in the proposal, the cost of support services, the cost of financial and accounting systems, corporate activities, the cost of premises and other indirect costs. Cost of premises may be either the annual rental cost, or the depreciation cost, of premises and should be proportional to the project's use of the institution's premises for the research proposal.

An example of a budget worksheet appears below (please note the recognised contribution of other funding sources in the first year of the proposed budget).

budget example proposal rdf

Direct costs

Expendables, Equipment depreciation/rental and Sub-contractors need to be further explained on the Direct costs worksheet of the spreadsheet.


This category should include the general operating expenses associated with the research proposal such as consumables, travel (for conferences, collaboration etc.), costs associated with Vision Mātauranga, student fees (but not stipends), capital purchases under $5,000, and other miscellaneous costs associated with research. This does not mean that equipment, such as a spectrometer, can be divided into separate components all less than $5,000 each. Details of expendables should be given on the Direct costs worksheet. Please give details of major
working expenses.

Equipment depreciation/rental

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowship scheme does not fund the purchase of equipment directly but may allow for an annual depreciation or rental cost. In the case of rental costs, the share of the total cost of the equipment should be proportional to the use of the equipment as outlined in the proposal.

Note that many institutions make a general provision for depreciation in their overhead costs. If this is the case, depreciation costs should be incorporated in “Indirect Costs” as Overheads.

An example of a Direct costs worksheet appears below.

direct costs example rdf proposal


Break down the sub-contractors into costs per year for each organisation. If required, please insert more sub-contractors in the sub-contractor worksheet of the spreadsheet.

Any costs, where services are purchased from other organisations, should be included in this section. Where personnel are sub-contractors they should be shown in this section, named, and their time-commitments shown in the FTE column.

Where a sub-contractor is a New Zealand research organisation, please break down costs per year into salary, overheads and direct costs. Other sub-contractors (for example, private individuals) may provide the annual cost as a single figure in the budget, rather than breaking down the costs.

An example of a sub-contractors worksheet appears below.

subcontractor budget example rdf propsal guidelines

Other funding

Fellows are permitted, and encouraged, to continue to be involved with existing or new projects requiring a time commitment in excess of 0.15 FTE where the research projects are aligned with the objectives of their Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. In these situations, Fellows should use released funds to support others to assist with these projects. After award of a Fellowship, details of the variations are subject to agreement by the Society.

Where other funding for research relevant to the proposal is being provided or sought, it must be detailed here in the Other Funding worksheet of the budget spreadsheet. It is appreciated that the applicant will be involved in applications to other funding sources, or have funding for related work. This is to be encouraged. However, to assist in the assessment of the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships the discipline-based panels and interview panel need to be aware of other funding applied for or received.

Indicate whether non-Rutherford Discovery Fellowship funding (for example, Marsden Fund, Health Research Council, Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Commercial, Other) has been: (i) received; or, (ii) applied for, for this or for research relevant to this proposal. Include information on the FTEs applied for or received from nonRutherford Discovery Fellowship government funding sources.

An example of an applicant’s Other funding worksheet appears below.

other funding example rdf proposal guidelines

15    Referees

To be eligible for a Fellowship, you are required to obtain three referee reports to support your proposal.

Of the three applicant-solicited referees, there is a requirement that at least one of these be an international referee unless otherwise approved by the Society.

Referees should be capable of judging your suitability for a Fellowship, and must be able to answer all the questions asked. The Referee will be asked to comment on: (i) the calibre of the applicant as a researcher; (ii) the proposed programme of research; and (iii) the calibre of the applicant as a research leader.

Referees cannot be seen as benefitting from recommending an application, in other words, they should not be involved in the proposed programme of research, be someone you are still publishing with, or be in your chain of line management. If possible, it is recommended to use referees you have not co-published within the last 5 years. However, as applicants’ circumstances are different, this is a recommendation only. In general, however, panellists
will not consider a referee report if the referee can be perceived to benefit from recommending an application.

A referee is generally deemed to be conflicted if:

  • They are a panel member in the current funding round.
  • They work in the same department as the applicant(s). 
  • They work at the same CRI AND are in the same team as the applicant(s) (the level of conflict will depend on the size of the organisation).
  • They work at the same company as the applicant(s). The level of conflict will depend on the size of the company.
  • They have co-authored publications with the applicant(s) in the last 5 years.
  • They have a low level of comfort assessing the application due to their relationship with the applicant(s).

Each reference will be treated as confidential by the Society.

  • You should approach your referees prior to the closing date of the funding round to ensure they are available and willing to assist with your application through writing a referee report.
  • There are some useful example templates for approaching referees posted on the web-portal. These are found in the Referees section (15) and the greyed-out templates become available after you start entering your choice of referees.
    • The “Referee Letter” button generates a template with information about the Rutherford Discovery Fellowship scheme and a few details of your proposal – this may help with your initial approach to your referees.
    • The “Send Email” button is active after the closing date for applications. All referees listed by the applicant on their application will be emailed by the Society immediately after the application closing date. The Society will notify applicants and research offices when this has been done. This is the only time we will email referees on behalf of the applicant. The “Send Email” button is only used by applicants wanting to invite referees after the application closing date.
  • When sending information to a referee, please remember to include a copy of your application (PDF sections 1-12) and the Guidelines for Referees.

Requests for referee reports will be sent from the proposals on-line web-based portal with the information you have supplied. Referees will be emailed a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) link to a separate web-based portal to complete their report.

  • After the email request has been sent from the web-based portal it is prudent for you to check that the referees have received the invitation to review your application. Occasionally, email is inadvertently identified as spam and in a referees ‘junk’ folder in their email client.
  • The web-based proposals on-line system can be checked by applicants for notification of when the Society has received each of the applicant-solicited referee reports.

Please note for referee reports:

1. It is your responsibility to ensure your referees have sent their reports to the Society by closing date 5pm on 25 May 2023 (New Zealand Standard Time).

2. A complete set of 3 referee reports must be received by the Society.

3. Applications without the necessary 3 referee reports (as described in these guidelines) will not be considered for funding

Adding additional referees

Although past experience has shown that most referees only complete their reports in the last few days, it may be wise for applicants to contact their referees and confirm that a report is still expected.

If an applicant is concerned that one of their referees will not complete a report in time, they do have the option of approaching an alternative referee. However, do note that the Society will only accept the first three reports received.

  • To add additional referees, applicants can log into the portal and add contact details for additional referees on the online portal system. Once their details are entered in section 14 of the portal, using the “Send email to [referee name]” button at the top of that section will send the referee the appropriate information. Again, it is advised that the applicant check that the referees have received the invitation to review their application after the email request has been sent from the web-based portal.

At the deadline for referee reports, applicants are given a 24-hour period to solicit any missing or new referee reports needed to obtain 3 referee reports and comply with the eligibility requirement.

16    Declarations

This section is to be read and filled in by you and a duly authorised agent of the host organisation. Please read the declaration carefully and ensure that all information contained in the application is true and accurate prior to signing. Please note that confirmation by the host organisation of their acceptance of the programme is a precondition for your application to be assessed.

17    Statistical information

The Society encourages applications from all eligible members of the New Zealand research community. To monitor the profile of different groups of applicants and identify funding trends and gaps, the Society would appreciate applicants providing the information requested in this section of Proposals On-Line. The statistical data will be used by the Rutherford DiscoveryFellowships secretariat for statistical purposes only. These data will NOT be part of the transfer of information to the main Society database. The information you provide will not be sent out to panellists for review.

Additional information for applicants | Ētahi atu kōrero mā ngā kaitono

Feedback process

In the Proposals On-Line web-based system, applicants are offered the option of receiving feedback in the form of quartiles for the three graded criteria at the conclusion of the funding round. A general statement about the funding round will also be prepared and given to all applicants.

Applicants will also be notified:

  • if the applicant was successful in making the ‘long list’.
  • if the applicant is considered ineligible to apply for a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.

Where an applicant has submitted an unsuccessful application, they should discuss their subsequent application with the Fellowship Coordinator before reapplying.


If you require further information about the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships, please email us at Rutherford.Discovery@royalsociety.org.nz or phone 04 470 5764.



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Appendix I - te reo Māori glossary

Appendix I: Glossary of te reo Māori terms | Āpitihanga I: Papakupu o ngā kupu reo Māori

Definitions taken from maoridictionary.co.nz

Ka mihi ki a Ahorangi Angus Macfarlane, Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, mō tēnei. With thanks to Professor Angus Macfarlane, University of Canterbury, for his input.


the Māori name for New Zealand


affection, sympathy, charity, compassion, love, empathy


ancestor with continuing influence, god, demon, supernatural being, deity, ghost, object of superstitious regard, strange being - although often translated as 'god' and now also used for the Christian God


kinship group, clan, tribe, subtribe - section of a large kinship group and the primary political unit in traditional Māori society. It consisted of a number of whānau sharing descent from a common ancestor, usually being named after the ancestor, but sometimes from an important event in the group's history. A number of related hapū usually shared adjacent territories forming a looser tribal federation (iwi)

Hau kāinga

home, true home, local people of a marae, home people


Health, wellbeing


gathering, meeting, assembly


extended kinship group, tribe, nation, people, nationality, race - often refers to a large group of people descended from a common ancestor and associated with a distinct territory


home, address, residence, village, settlement, habitation, habitat, dwelling


trustee, minder, guard, custodian, guardian, caregiver, keeper, steward


guardianship, stewardship, trusteeship


adult, elder, elderly man, elderly woman, senior person - a person of status within the whānau or iwi


Philosophy, topic, policy, matter for discussion, plan, purpose, scheme, proposal, agenda, subject, programme, theme, issue, initiative

Kaupapa Māori

Māori approach, Māori topic, Māori customary practice, Māori institution, Māori agenda, Māori principles, Māori ideology - a philosophical doctrine, incorporating the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of Māori society


gift, present, offering, donation, contribution - especially one maintaining social relationships and has connotations of reciprocity

Kōiwi tangata

Human bones or remains


to tell, say, speak, read, talk, address; speech, narrative, story, news, account, discussion, conversation, discourse, statement, information


be painful, sore, hurt


prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma - mana is a supernatural force in a person, place or object. Mana goes hand in hand with tapu, one affecting the other. The more prestigious the event, person or object, the more it is surrounded by tapu and mana. Mana is the enduring, indestructible power of the atua and is inherited at birth, the more senior the descent, the greater the mana. The authority of mana and tapu is inherited and delegated through the senior line from the atua as their human agent to act on revealed will. Since authority is a spiritual gift delegated by the atua, man remains the agent, never the source of mana. This divine choice is confirmed by the elders, initiated by the tohunga under traditional consecratory rites (tohi). Mana gives a person the authority to lead, organise and regulate communal expeditions and activities, to make decisions regarding social and political matters. A person or tribe's mana can increase from successful ventures or decrease through the lack of success.


hospitality, kindness, generosity, support - the process of showing respect, generosity and care for others


Māori, Indigenous New Zealander, Indigenous person of Aotearoa/New Zealand - a new use of the word resulting from Pākehā contact in order to distinguish between people of Māori descent and the colonisers


courtyard - the open area in front of the wharenui (meeting house), where formal greetings and discussions take place. Often also used to include the complex of buildings around the marae


knowledge, wisdom, understanding, skill - sometimes used in the plural; education - an extension of the original meaning and commonly used in modern Māori with this meaning


life principle, life force, vital essence, special nature, a material symbol of a life principle, source of emotions - the essential quality and vitality of a being or entity. Also used for a physical object, individual, ecosystem or social group in which this essence is located


sea, ocean, large lake

Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa

the Pacific Ocean


English, foreign, European, exotic - introduced from or originating in a foreign country; New Zealander of European descent - probably originally applied to English-speaking Europeans living in Aotearoa/New Zealand


tribal saying, tribal motto, proverb (especially about a tribe), set form of words, formulaic expression, saying of the ancestors, figure of speech, motto, slogan - set sayings known for their economy of words and metaphor and encapsulating many Māori values and human characteristics


myth, ancient legend, story


younger generation, youth


chief (male or female), chieftain, chieftainess, master, mistress, boss, supervisor, employer, landlord, owner, proprietor - qualities of a leader is a concern for the integrity and prosperity of the people, the land, the language and other cultural treasures (e.g. oratory and song poetry), and an aggressive and sustained response to outside forces that may threaten these


chieftainship, right to exercise authority, chiefly autonomy, chiefly authority, ownership, leadership of a social group, domain of the rangatira, noble birth, attributes of a chief


boundary, district, region, territory, area, border (of land)


council, tribal council, assembly, board, boardroom, iwi authority - assemblies called to discuss issues of concern to iwi or the community


children - normally used only in the plural


husband, male, man

Tangata whenua

local people, hosts, indigenous people - people born of the whenua, i.e. of the placenta and of the land where the people's ancestors have lived and where their placenta are buried


treasure, anything prized - applied to anything considered to be of value including socially or culturally valuable objects, resources, phenomenon, ideas and techniques


be sacred, prohibited, restricted, set apart, forbidden, under atua protection; restriction, prohibition - a supernatural condition. A person, place or thing is dedicated to an atua and is thus removed from the sphere of the profane and put into the sphere of the sacred. It is untouchable, no longer to be put to common use

Te reo Māori

Māori language

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi


correct procedure, custom, habit, lore, method, manner, rule, way, code, meaning, plan, practice, convention, protocol - the customary system of values and practices that have developed over time and are deeply embedded in the social context

Tino rangatiratanga

self-determination, sovereignty, autonomy, self-government, domination, rule, control, power


ancestor, grandparent, grandfather, grandmother - singular form of tīpuna and the eastern dialect variation of tupuna


skilled person, chosen expert, priest, healer - a person chosen by the agent of an atua and the tribe as a leader in a particular field because of signs indicating talent for a particular vocation


ancestor, grandparent – singular form of tūpuna and the western dialect variation of tipuna


domicile, standing, place where one has the right to stand - place where one has rights of residence and belonging through kinship and whakapapa


spirit, soul - spirit of a person which exists beyond death. It is the non-physical spirit, distinct from the body and the mauri


wahine - woman, female, lady, wife; wāhine - women, females, ladies, wives – plural form of wahine; female, women, feminine




seminar, conference, forum, educational seminar; tribal knowledge, lore, learning - important traditional cultural, religious, historical, genealogical and philosophical knowledge; tertiary institution that caters for Māori learning needs - established under the Education Act 1990


oratory, oration, formal speech-making, address, speech - formal speeches usually made by men during a pohiri and other gatherings


genealogy, genealogical table, lineage, descent - reciting whakapapa was, and is, an important skill and reflected the importance of genealogies in Māori society in terms of leadership, land and fishing rights, kinship and status. It is central to all Māori institutions. There are different terms for the types of whakapapa and the different ways of reciting them including: tāhū (recite a direct line of ancestry through only the senior line); whakamoe (recite a genealogy including males and their spouses); taotahi (recite genealogy in a single line of descent); hikohiko (recite genealogy in a selective way by not following a single line of descent); ure tārewa (male line of descent through the first-born male in each generation)


proverb, significant saying, formulaic saying, cryptic saying, aphorism. Like whakatauākī and pepeha they are essential ingredients in whaikōrero


extended family, family group, a familiar term of address to a number of people - the primary economic unit of traditional Māori society. In the modern context the term is sometimes used to include friends who may not have any kinship ties to other members


relationship, kinship, sense of family connection - a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group. It also extends to others to whom one develops a close familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship


land - often used in the plural; territory, domain; country, land, nation, state

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Rutherford Discovery Fellowship career gaps calculator

Please use this spreadsheet to check your likely eligibility for a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, including extensions for primary caregivers.

Download RDF Career Gaps Calculator for year 2023


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