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Information for panellists

nformation for panellists assessing Rutherford Foundation applications

The Panellists' Guidelines are available as a PDF 

About the Rutherford Foundation

The Royal Society Te Apārangi-Rutherford Foundation (the Foundation) was established as a Charitable Trust in 2008 with the aim of building human capability in science and technology by providing support for excellent New Zealand early career researchers. The Foundation offered scholarships and fellowships, which carried the hallmark of excellence enabling strong connections to New Zealand to be maintained, thereby increasing the benefits to New Zealand that accrue from the investment in these recipients. The Trust was wound up in 2018 when the management of the Foundation’s funding opportunities was transferred to the Royal Society Te Apārangi (the Society).


The objectives of the Rutherford Foundation Fellowships and Scholarships are to support the education and development of promising excellent early career researchers with the potential to excel in a research environment. The funding opportunities support early career researchers who demonstrate a passion for research, science and technology, and have a strong sense of the purpose and benefits of research to New Zealand. Receipt of a Rutherford Foundation award is expected to have a significant value in the future career development of the supported Scholars and Fellows and help them to establish a foundation on which to embark on an independent research career.

Funding Opportunities and eligibility

The Foundation supports two types of early career researcher awards. These are:

  • The Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • The Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship

Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowship will award $75,000 (GST excl.) per annum towards the researcher’s salary and $10,000 (GST excl.) per annum in research-related expenses.

Up to 5 Fellowships can be awarded in the 2020 funding round.

The Fellowship is awarded on a full-time basis (1 FTE), unless otherwise agreed to by the Society.


  • Applicants’ doctoral degrees must have been conferred no more than four years prior to the year in which the fellowship is awarded. For 2020, this means on or after 01 January 2016.
    • An exemption to this clause can be sought to allow applicants to demonstrate that their PhD has been submitted before the application closing date, and can be examined by the date of short-listing.
    • A further exemption can be sought to demonstrate a reasonable absence from a research career, for instance to take parental leave or for extended sickness leave.
  • Applicants from all fields or research, science and technology, including social sciences and the humanities, are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be either New Zealand citizens, or have continuously resided in New Zealand for at least two years immediate prior to their application and hold, or be deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa.

Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship

The Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarships are jointly funded by the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust (CCEIT) and the Rutherford Foundation. The Scholarship is intended to provide full support for three years to enable completion of a PhD at the University of Cambridge in pure or applied science and the social sciences.

Successful applicants will receive a living allowance (set by CCEIT) , and their course and college fees for up to a maximum of three years while enrolled for study towards their PhD at the University of Cambridge. In addition, they will be eligible for one, non-transferable, return airfare between the United Kingdom and New Zealand per annum.

Up to 2 Scholarships can be awarded in the 2020 funding round.



  • Applicants from the disciplines of science and technology (which includes pure or applied science and the social sciences) are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be either New Zealand citizens or have continuously resided in New Zealand for at least two years immediately prior to their application and hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa.
  • Applicants who hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa are also required to have completed their undergraduate study in New Zealand to be considered eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be in a position that if successful, they would be able to enter the United Kingdom and comply with the regulations for matriculation at the University of Cambridge.






Thu 11 Jun 2020

Proposals On-Line web-based application system opens.

Thu 06 Aug 2020

On-Line web portal closes at 5 pm (New Zealand Standard Time).

Mid Aug 2020

Panellist briefing video conference.

Applications forwarded to panellists.

Wednesday 16 Sept

Last day for panellists to submit their recommendations to the Society.

Mid-Sep 2020

Short-listing video-conference.

Oct 2020

Interviews for short-listed applicants.

Nov 2020 (TBC)

Results announced.

Table 1.         Timetable for 2019

Assessment Process (in brief)

The Society will appoint a selection panel, chaired by the President of the Society, or their nominee, to oversee the selection process.  The Chair of the panel will work with the Society’s nominated manager to determine the best process to be used. The assessment of applications is a two stage process.

  • Stage one is a short-listing for an interview by the Selection Panel.  
  • Stage two is the interviewing of short-listed applicants by the Selection Panel.

The Selection Panel is responsible for both stages of the selection process.

Assessment of applications

Each panel member will receive electronic copies of all applications. Applications are to be assessed by panel members exclusively on the information provided in the application and referee reports. Panel members are asked to apply the selection criteria in a manner that is conducive to the selection of awardees that best fulfils the objectives of the funding opportunities.

  • The selection criteria for all supported schemes are:
  • Demonstration of academic excellence;
  • Potential for career development;
  • Quality of the proposed research programme;
  • Depth of understanding of the proposed research, its ultimate purpose, and benefits to New Zealand;
  • Additional criterion that may be considered: transfer of skills.

Vision Mātauranga – NEW for 2020

For applications for the Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship only, where relevant, proposals should consider the relation of the research to the themes of Vision Mātauranga and, where relevant, how the project will engage with Māori. 

A Vision Mātauranga statement must be included for all research that has relevance for Māori. If this is not applicable to a proposal, the applicant must tick N/A AND provide a rationale for why this is.


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


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; and
  • Mātauranga, which involves exploring indigenous knowledge.

For further information on how applicants are expected to address Vision Mātauranga please refer to appendix I.

Short-listing of applicants for interview (stage one)

Each panel member will receive an electronic form on which to record their scoring in each criteria. The panel members must additionally use the scoring sheet to indicate applicants recommended for an interview. The filled-out scoresheet must be emailed to the Society no later than the date listed in the timetable.

Panel members also need to identify applications for which they have a conflict of interest, explaining the nature of the conflict (please refer to conflicts of interest).

Each panel member is asked to start reading applications at different points through the order of the applications, to avoid applications from institutions or researchers first in the alphabet always being read first.

Panel members must be cognisant of ensuring equal opportunities across different fields of research.

Assessment in relation to years of research experience

For applicants applying for the Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, panel members must consider applicants’ track records in relation to their years of research experience, which may differ from the number of years since PhD conferment. The years since PhD is stated on the first page of the application in the top left corner of the header. However, if applicable, panel members must additionally consider periods of research breaks due to maternity/parental leave, medical leave or other relevant leave outlined in under section 4 of the application.

Short-listing meeting

The applicants selected to interview will be agreed upon by the Selection Panel at the short-listing meeting. The Society will collate all panellist’s recommendations, and distribute a recommendation summary to all panellists prior to the short-listing meeting.

Interviews (Stage two)

The Selection Panel will conduct all interviews and recommend to the Society the successful applicants for all funding schemes.

Applicants invited to interview will have their flight expenses covered by the Society. Applicants that are unable to travel to the interview may request to have the interview conducted by videoconference.

Each applicant will be asked a series of questions in an allocated 20 minute interview.  Overseas applicants will be interviewed using either teleconferencing or video-conferencing facilities.

The Chair of the Selection Panel is responsible for the effective conduct of the assessment process.  This post will be filled by the President of the Society or their nominee.  Each panel member needs to ensure that the funding recommendations made are defensible by ensuring the framework for assessment is followed and identifying, and taking appropriate action, over conflicts of interest.

The final recommendations of the Selection Panel are ratified by the President of the Society.

Feedback to applicants

Unsuccessful interviewed applicants have the opportunity to approach the Chair of the Panel for feed-back on their application.

Sensitive issues


The Society has obligations under the Privacy Act to keep confidential certain information provided by individuals.  Moreover, the records of deliberations by panels are regarded as strictly confidential; as are the contents of applications.

  • Panel members should ensure the safe keeping of all applications and related confidential documents (e.g. applications, referee reports, scoring spreadsheets or summaries).
  • At the conclusion of the grading, panel meetings and the interviews, members should leave documentation with the Society staff and destroy any documentation remaining elsewhere.
  • Panel members should not enter into correspondence or discussion of the contents of the applications with referees, third parties, or the applicants.  Any necessary correspondence shall be addressed by the Rutherford Foundation Secretariat or the Panel Chair as agreed.
  • The intellectual property of the ideas and hypotheses put forward in the applications should be treated in strict confidence.

Conflicts of interest

The Society takes the issue of conflicts of interest very seriously. A rigorous position is taken in order to maintain the credibility of the allocation process and to ensure that applications are subjected to fair and reasonable appraisal.

The Society wants to ensure that the panel members are active researchers with an excellent background in research.  As these researchers will invariably have connections with some applicants, conflicts of interest will arise. Where these occur for panel members, the following rules will apply. 

  • All conflicts of interest must be declared in writing to the Society.  Society staff will minute all conflicts of interest and actions taken.
  • Where a panel member is a family member or close friend of any applicant(s), that person will not assess the applications or interview the candidate and take no part in the consideration of that application.  They will hear about the outcome of that application when official letters are sent to all applicants.
  • If a panel member has an interest in an application, such as collaborating with an applicant or an applicant’s group, or is conflicted with the applicant* then that member shall not assess the application or interview the candidate.
  • A panel member cannot be a referee for any applicant in the current funding round.
  • If the interview panel Chair has a conflict of interest then the duties of chairing the interview shall be passed to another panel member.

*A panel member is generally deemed to be conflicted if:

  • They work in the same department as the applicant(s). Where the department is large and contact between the panel member and applicant(s) is minimal, the Chair may deem there to be no conflict.
  • 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).

When all conflicts of interest are taken into account, the panel Chair may decide that the remaining panellists’ expertise is not sufficient for assessment of a particular application.  In this case, an additional opinion from an external independent person may be sought.  Alternatively, a panellist who has previously left the room may be asked to return to answer technical questions only.

Royal Society Staff

It is not the role of Society staff to make funding decisions.  Rather, their role is one of facilitation of and "guardianship" over the assessment process, ensuring that the process is credible and defensible.  To achieve this, staff will:

  • organise all logistical aspects of the process;
  • assist the discipline-based and interview panellists in determining realistic timetables for meetings;
  • provide a framework for assessment;
  • record funding decisions and collate generic feedback for applicants;
  • record any conflicts of interest and identify problem areas;
  • convey funding decisions to applicants and their host organisations - all discussions related to a decision should occur through Society staff; and,
  • negotiate contract details with host institutions.


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

Additional information on the Rutherford Foundation funding opportunities is available on the following website: https://royalsociety.org.nz/what-we-do/funds-and-opportunities/rutherford-foundation/

Appendix I – Vision Mātauranga

Information provided to Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship applicants:

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 should identify which, if any, of the four Vision Mātauranga themes below are associated with the proposed research. A Vision Mātauranga statement must be included for all research that has relevance for Māori. If this is not applicable to your proposed research, you must tick N/A AND provide a rationale for why this is.

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; and
  • Mātauranga, which involves exploring indigenous knowledge.


Collection of the % contribution of each Vision Mātauranga theme to the proposed research will form part of our reporting obligations for NZRIS (see “Changes” earlier). 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. Note that 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).


How do I decide whether to include a Vision Mātauranga statement in my proposal?

The five ways of conceptualising Vision Mātauranga in your research (see below) 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 https://bioheritage.nz/about-us/vision-matauranga/ 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 MBIE in information for the Endeavour Fund c. 2015.


Ways of conceptualising Vison Mātauranga in your research

a. Research with no specific Māori component

  • No mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is used.
  • Māori are not associated with the research process (e.g. 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 (e.g., iwi / hapū, organisations) aspirations and outcomes.

d. Māori-centred research

  • The project is Māori led, and where Mātauranga Māori is used alongside other knowledges (e.g. 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 (e.g., 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 (e.g., 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.

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?
  • 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?
  • How will you share the research outcomes with Māori?
  • 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.

  • Allen, W., Jamie M. Ataria, J. M., Apgar, J. M., Harmsworth, G., and Tremblay, L. A. (2009). Kia pono te mahi putaiao—doing science in the right spirit. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39:4, 239-242. DOI: 10.1080/03014220909510588
  • Crawford, S. (2009). Matauranga Maori and western science: The importance of hypotheses, predictions and protocols, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39:4, 163-166. DOI: 10.1080/03014220909510571
  • Broughton, D. (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Taranaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi), and McBreen, K. (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Ngāi Tahu). (2015). Mātauranga Māori, tino rangatiratanga and the future of New Zealand science. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 45:2, 83-88.DOI: 10.1080/03036758.2015.1011171
  • Kana, F. and Tamatea, K. (2006). Sharing, listening, learning and developing understandings of Kaupapa Māori research by engaging with two Māori communities involved in education. Waikato Journal of Education, 12, 9-20. https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/6198/Kana%20Sharing.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
  • Macfarlane, S., Macfarlane, A. and Gillon, G. (2015) Sharing the food baskets of knowledge: Creating space for a blending of streams. In A. Macfarlane, S. Macfarlane, M. Webber, (eds.), Sociocultural realities: Exploring new horizons. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 52-67.
  • Moewaka Barnes, H. (2006). Transforming Science: How our Structures Limit Innovation. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand Te Puna Whakaaro, 29, 1-16. https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj29/29-pages-1-16.pdf
  • Pihama, L., Tiakiwai, S.-J., and Southey, K. (eds.). (2015). Kaupapa rangahau: A reader. A collection of readings from the Kaupapa Rangahau workshops series. (2nd ed.). Hamilton, New Zealand: Te Kotahi Research Institute. https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/11738/Kaupapa%20Rangahau%20-%20A%20Reader_2nd%20Edition.pdf?sequence=7&isAllowed=y
  • Smith, L. T., Maxwell, T. K., Puke, H., and Temara, P. (2016). Indigenous knowledge, methodology and mayhem: What is the role of methodology in producing indigenous insights? A discussion from Mātauranga Māori. Knowledge Cultures, 4(3), 131–156. https://addletonacademicpublishers.com/component/content/article?id=2834:feature-article-indigenous-knowledge-methodology-and-mayhem-what-is-the-role-of-methodology-in-producing-indigenous-insights-a-discussion-from-matauranga-maori