Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship to explore system change to reverse health inequality and environmental degradation.

Health, wellbeing and the environment are intertwined through complex relationships, but research, policy and governance systems tend to treat them as separate areas of knowledge and action. Recognition of these fundamental interrelationships is becoming more widespread in Aotearoa New Zealand as Māori continue to revive and promote traditional knowledge and cultural practices, and as global systems are tested by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The social processes and relationships involved in producing inequality affect both health (such as life expectancy) and environmental outcomes (such as climate change). This research will explore what the common influences are, and what this means for producing change to reverse trends in both.

You will work with diverse stakeholders to map the key factors, actors and influences contributing to inequality, health and the environment in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will then work with a research team using the results to identify levers for system change and develop better ways to prioritise and evaluate actions.


This scholarship is open to anyone who can be in New Zealand and meets the requirements to enrol in a PhD at the relevant institution. We are happy to consider students from a diverse range of fields. An interest in systems methods will be an advantage for this project, but prior knowledge is not required.

The successful candidate will hold, or expect to complete soon, a masters degree, or similar, in a relevant discipline. Experience and knowledge in one or more of the areas of health and its determinants, inequality and environment would be helpful.

Applicants from all backgrounds are actively encouraged to apply and we especially encourage Māori and Pasifika to apply.


You will be part of an excellent, passionate and experienced team of researchers who will be available to co-supervise, or act as advisors to the research, depending on your needs and skills. You will be enrolled with the School of Health at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington but there is flexibility both in supervision and where you can be based, such as an action partner within an iwi/hapū or community organisation, or within the academic community of any of your supervisor’s institutions.

You will be part of Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems. Te Pūnaha Matatini brings together different disciplines, ways of thought, methods, and people to define and solve society’s thorny interconnected problems.

Te Pūnaha Matatini has an active whānau group which supports early career researchers, committed to the Te Pūnaha Matatini values of manaakitanga and whakawhanaungatanga, offering supportive tuakana / teina learning environments.


Informal enquiries are welcome by email:

Financial details

  • Full tuition fees
  • Stipend of NZ$28,800 per year (tax free)

Start date

Start date is flexible but would preferably be between November 2021 and March 2022.

How to apply

Send an email expressing your interest, along with a CV, academic record, and list of three potential referees to Dr Anna Matheson at

Due date

Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Applications received by 31 October 2021 will receive full consideration.

Selection process

  1. After the due date shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview and follow-up discussion to establish mutual fit.
  2. At your interview you can meet some of the project team and ask questions.
  3. Following these interviews, and a reference check, we will offer the scholarship to the most suitable candidate.