10 November 2022

Te Pūnaha Matatini – the meeting place of many faces – is the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for complex systems. We’re looking for new faces to join our community, so we thought you might like to meet some of us.

Professor Anna Brown is a principal investigator at Te Pūnaha Matatini and founder and director of Toi Āria, a research centre at Massey University that is interested in harnessing design for positive social change through effective community engagement.

“My background is design,” says Anna. “I have come from a career in graphic and editorial design that has evolved into design in an expanded field. I suggest that when I say ‘design’ people think of that term in the most elastic meaning. Design of systems, of services, of research, of impact.”

“The work that I do now is research into design for public good — ranging from such things as better outcomes for rangatahi, reducing recidivism to rethinking the internet for the people of Aotearoa.”

“Being involved and associated with Te Pūnaha Matatini has given me so much already. Te Pūnaha Matatini is changing how I understand research can be within the academy. Often the design research undertaken by our team is not understood, or relegated to something outside of the known and therefore disregarded.”

“At Te Pūnaha Matatini people and processes are seen and celebrated and from this starting point incredible research is developed. Design and design approaches are welcomed by the research community and celebrated as something useful and valuable, especially when engaging with communities.”

Anna leads The Co-production Project, one of Te Pūnaha Matatini’s core research projects for 2021-2024. This project aims to develop knowledge of co-production to enable communities to be equal partners in research and subsequent development of services and solutions for women’s health in Aotearoa New Zealand. Te Pūnaha Matatini has a strong commitment to public engagement, and this project grew from conversations with other principal investigators.

“The culture of Te Pūnaha Matatini is inclusive and caring,” says Anna. “Working with the wider research teams and community has been (and this word is not often used in academic circles) delightful. Being part of a Centre of Research Excellence with the exemplary reputation of Te Pūnaha Matatini could feel overwhelming, but the welcoming atmosphere, the regard for all forms of research and the care for people has made it anything but.”

For Anna, this welcoming atmosphere comes right from the top. “Cilla Wehi embodies the values of Te Pūnaha Matatini in her leadership as director,” she says. “She is genuine, ethical and values each member of Te Pūnaha Matatini for what they bring. She brings mana to her role and inspires me to reciprocate all that she models.”

If you’re considering applying to be a principal investigator, Anna says “take the opportunity! Now! What a privilege.”