Nau mai, haere mai. Welcome to the third issue of Massey University’s research publication Rangahau: Research at Massey University. I am delighted to share with you our latest overview of some of the wonderful research currently underway here at Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa.

In this issue we showcase and celebrate Māori researchers and scholars as well as those working closely with Māori communities and research partners. This is not only because our researchers have such excellent stories to share, but also because they are making real, meaningful and positive contributions to our communities. Supporting, profiling and acknowledging Māori research and researchers is a key commitment in our University’s research strategy, He Rautaki Rangahau 2018–2022, and it is simply part of what we do here at Massey in our journey towards being a Tiriti o Waitangi- led institution. We are fortunate to have such high-quality researchers and research teams, some of whom are world-leading in their fields, and we want to share their success and their work with you. In the following pages we profile emerging scholars alongside more established researchers, drawn from a range of disciplines.

At Massey, we pride ourselves on the value we place on research, both as a scholarly activity and as a means through which to improve lives, lift social and economic wellbeing and nurture our environments. Put simply, we think that our people are committed to making a real difference for Aotearoa New Zealand and for the world. 

Research at Massey is broadly defined and spans discovery, commercialisation, scholarship and the production of creative works, and includes both professional and clinical practice. Our research is distinguished by our focus on solving ‘wicked problems’ and contemporary societal challenges, in addition to maintaining our commitment to fundamental knowledge discovery. This dual focus, along with our unwavering responsibility to demonstrate leadership in contemporary Aotearoa as we uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the founding document of our nation, differentiates Massey from other universities. Our university’s commitment to being a Tiriti o Waitangi-led institution infuses and informs everything we do. We are excited and energised by this goal, noting that while research is a key area where we can work to realise this aim, such ambition comes with huge responsibilities.

We are justifiably proud of our unrivalled record of research excellence in subject areas vital to this country’s society and economy reaching back almost 50 years, and in the creative arts more than 130 years. These areas of research strength include veterinary science, land- and food-based research, nursing and public health, finance, key areas of the social sciences, and creative arts and design. Our research expertise in these fields sits alongside and supports our capability to deliver a diverse distance- and online-teaching portfolio. We celebrate this diversity and are inspired by our name, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa; from inception to infinity. In sum, Massey is not simply defined by what we do, but by how we do it.

Since we published the first volume of Rangahau in 2016, a number of readers have asked for an explanation of the title. In te reo Māori, the word ‘ranga’ forms a base for many words, but in the word ‘rangahau’ it connotes to raise, cast up, to ‘pull up by the roots’ or to set in motion. The word ‘hau’ also has many meanings but when combined with ‘ranga’ it can mean to be heard, report, publish abroad, or a message that is notable and illustrious.

The word ‘rangahau’ suggests our purpose and one of our core missions as a university: to seek, search out, pursue and to raise up. Here at Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa we have adopted this term to express in te reo Māori the idea and essence of researching and our effort to promote excellent research initiatives. Rangahau celebrates this tradition by profiling researchers whose work exemplifies engaged, essential and globally relevant research with impact and influence. 

Finally, research not only defines what a university does; research is also critical to helping us all to understand the world in which we live. In addition to teaching, universities exist as repositories and generators of knowledge. Universities produce graduates for the world of work, they are sites of rational critique in the context of public policy and social and economic debates, they are large and influential institutions, and, most importantly, they produce graduates who will go on to create more cohesive, productive and tolerant communities. 

In a society where information is a click away, it is worth remembering that universities are not just purveyors of content; rather, they create and curate knowledge and information, interpret it and help explain it. Academics, in their dual role as researchers and teachers, play an active part in this process, in terms of ‘educating’ both students and the public alike. In an era where science, evidence-based research and rational thinking are frequently dismissed as ‘fake news’, we need our experts now more than ever. 

We invite you to read on, explore and enjoy. Tihei mauri ora!

Professor Giselle Byrnes