Our mission is to develop methods and tools for transforming complex data into knowledge

Our Story

Te Pūnaha Matatini – ‘the meeting place of many faces’ – is a Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland that will develop methods and approaches for transforming complex data about New Zealand’s environment, economy, and society into knowledge, tools, and insight for making better decisions.

We live in a data-rich but knowledge poor world. Te Pūnaha Matatini is a novel and exciting collaboration that brings together experts from the academic research community, industry, and government to develop the methods and tools that will transform that data into knowledge, providing insight for businesses, government, and communities.

We’re working with our stakeholders from industry, government, and the community to help reshape New Zealand’s economy, society, and environment by developing new tools for understanding and managing large complex datasets, and transferring these tools to New Zealand’s business and government sectors for increased productivity and insight.

Te Pūnaha Matatini is training a new type of scientist for the benefit of New Zealand; we offer research projects that develop scientific skills that are relevant to our economy, society, and environment. We’re equipping these students with the business skills and personal networks to enable them to pursue rewarding careers or start their own knowledge-intensive businesses in New Zealand.

We’re working to build the kind of New Zealand of which we can all be proud – showcasing excellent and relevant transdisciplinary research in New Zealand, and promoting the role of science and research to New Zealand communities. In particular, Te Pūnaha Matatini is committed to working with Māori communities to develop and understand the role of innovation in enhancing the sustainability of regional economies and communities.

Te Pūnaha Matatini takes as our foundational whakataukī this maxim from Sir Apirana Ngāta (1874-1950):

“E tipu, e rea, mo ngā ra o tau ao – grow up and thrive for the days destined to you”

We’re working together with New Zealand industry, government, and communities to enable New Zealanders to grow up and thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Read more at our latest news


As a Centre of Research Excellence, we are committed to the open exchange of ideas, the freedom of thought and expression, and respectful debate. These require a community and an environment that recognises the inherent worth of every person and group, that fosters inclusion, dignity, understanding, and mutual respect, and that embraces diversity.

From our establishment in 2015, we have been committed to reaching gender parity in our investigator cohort by 2020, with 32% of the founding Principal Investigators being women. In August 2017, including our latest cohort of Associate Investigators, women make up 48% of our researchers. We note the issues with the notion of ‘excellence’ and ‘merit’, and are developing an approach that assesses merit relative to opportunity.

Read our diversity policy in full to find out more.

Te Pūnaha Matatini also has a sponsorship policy for all hosted and sponsored events; and we have an event code of conduct. All Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators and members of the Te Pūnaha Matatini Whānau are expected to be cognisant of the policy and code, and to implement them.

Te Pūnaha Matatini Whānau

This network for students and emerging scientists develops leadership skills, fosters entrepreneurship, and raises Te Pūnaha Matatini’s profile with young people via social media, public talks, schools visits, and other outreach activities. Te Pūnaha Matatini Whānau is run by a committee, which acts as the representative body for post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from Te Pūnaha Matatini. It is responsible for: advising the Executive Team and Research Committee on matters of concerning emerging scientists; assessing and responding to education or commercial or translation or outreach opportunities; organising an annual forum for emerging scientists in Te Pūnaha Matatini, to be held in conjunction with the Investigator Forum.
Twitter: @TPMWhanau

Shaun Hendy is Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini and Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland. His interest in the science of complexity was piqued at a lunchtime journal club at Industrial Research Ltd, where the group got talking about complexity scientist Geoffrey West’s work on the increase in the number of patents per capita with city size in the United States. Hendy then downloaded an international patent database to check if the same patterns occurred in New Zealand, and found that the difference in patents per capita between Australia and New Zealand could be explained by the difference in population distributions.

See more of our leadership team