15 November 2023

Te Pūnaha Matatini recently held a wānanga to develop our capacity to engage with policymakers about our research.

The workshop was led by Te Pūnaha Matatini Principal Investigators Dr Shaun Hendy, Associate Professor Rhian Salmon and Jo Bailey, and Communications and Marketing Senior Adviser Jonathan Burgess.

Eighteen Te Pūnaha Matatini principal investigators and TPM Whānau participated in the wānanga. Over three days, they explored the relationship between research and policy, gained insights into effective communication of research for policy, and learned strategies for supporting evidence-informed decision-making.

Shaun shared his knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of research-policy engagement, how research and policy operates in Aotearoa New Zealand, case studies of important examples of research-policy interaction in Aotearoa and internationally, and his immense personal experience in engaging with policymakers.

He analysed how research and policy had interacted about issues such as methamphetamine residue in Housing New Zealand homes, the Fukushima nuclear accident, the botulism scare in milk powder, 90-day employment trials, and the Covid-19 response in Aotearoa.

The workshop was enlivened by the hands-on activities created by Jo, in which participants built their dream policy tool out of cardboard, and collaborated to build a paper network of policy relationships sourced from the participants in the room.

Image: Research-policy engagement wānanga participants build their dream policy engagement tool.

Jonathan took all the participants through a guided exercise to draft a policy brief based on issues identified by their research. An expert panel of Dr Christina Hood, Philippa Yasbek and Dr Sarah-Jane O’Connor visited the wānanga to share their extensive experience of working with research and policy.

TPM Whānau member Angela Davies is undertaking doctoral research on education institution data as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. She particularly appreciated the group size, which meant that “each of our needs have been identified and addressed along the way”.

Te Pūnaha Matatini Principal Investigator Céline Cattoën-Gilbert works as a hydrological forecasting scientist at NIWA. She found the atmosphere of trust at the wānanga “refreshing and empowering” and enjoyed the balance of presentations, practical activities, discussion and rest.

Alongside their draft policy briefs, all participants left the workshop equipped with a next action to take to improve their engagement with policymakers. The collective experience over the three days of the wānanga also created a support network for all the participants to draw on as they engage with policymakers about their research.