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Significant funding announced for social research

Media Release 26 March 2008

Significant funding announced for social research

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is investing $8.1 million in five research projects that focus on helping children and young people to participate and succeed in society.

The projects are the latest in the Foundation’s Building an Inclusive Society portfolio, which supports research that contributes to improved social outcomes and achieving or sustaining an inclusive society.

Successful bidders for the funding are Victoria University, the University of Auckland (two projects), AUT University and Massey University

Foundation Chief Executive Murray Bain says this investment in independent research delivers new knowledge, focused on social issues of importance to New Zealanders.

"Given the community concern over issues relating to children and young people, as reflected in the media, these projects are timely and will generate new evidence to underpin future policies and decision making," he says.

Victoria University receives $400,000 over two years for research into the diversity of young people in a context of rapidly changing population demographics. The work will deliver important insights about the diversity of youth in New Zealand.

One University of Auckland project is $396,210 over two years to investigate the links between youth success and tribal marae, values and languages.

The second University of Auckland project is for $600,000 over two then three years (subject to conditions) to create a simulation model to be able to better understand and determine the impacts of social policies on children and young people.

AUT University has been awarded $3,750,000 over five years in continued Foundation funding of its ground-breaking Pacific Island Families study, the only longitudinal research programme of its kind in New Zealand.

Massey University receives $3,750,000 over five years to investigate the pathways that children and young people travel as they come in contact with various support agencies. This clear, focused project will address a significant gap in national knowledge.

“We were very impressed with all the proposals submitted, and it was a tough call having to turn some down,” says Murray Bain. “Research like this delivers accurate, reliable information with the potential to offer sound solutions to emerging social situations.”


About the Foundation: The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology invests over $460 million a year on behalf of the New Zealand Government in research and development to enhance the wealth and well being of New Zealanders.

Project snapshots and details for further information:

Pathways to Resilience – Massey University

This five-year research programme offers a unique opportunity to generate policy and practice-relevant evidence concerning the pathways that children and young people travel leading to involvement with the youth justice, child protection, specialist educational and community support systems. It will also study the factors that protect them from such involvement and the characteristics of the most effective interventions. The children and young people who are the focus of this research experience severe and persistent disadvantage throughout their early lives; they are least likely to participate and succeed in society. The Pathways to Resilience Programme will inform development of policy and practice concerning key individual and ecological differences between those who overcome adversity (resilient) those who do not (non-resilient), and the types of service configurations that most enhance their resilience.

Youth Voices: Youth Choices – Victoria University of Wellington

The objective of this two-year project is to identify the drivers and determinants of success and participation in Chinese, Pacific and Muslim youth. This will be accomplished by addressing two key questions: 1) How do these youth construct their identities and negotiate issues pertaining to cultural maintenance and participation in the wider society? 2) What strategies or interventions promote positive identity, integration, cultural and social connectedness, and leadership within and between ethnic/Muslim communities? The findings will be used by a range of agencies to inform strategies and policy on social cohesion, connecting diverse communities, and strategic directions for youth, and in turn, support New Zealand’s efforts to build and sustain an inclusive society.

Maximising the potential of Maori language and tribal marae among youth – University of Auckland

This two-year project seeks to strengthen the relevance of iwi/hapū marae and regional language among Māori youth, improving their overall participation and success in New Zealand society. It will examine the meaning of iwi/hapū marae and regional language to Māori youth. It will compare these two identity drivers to other interests of young Māori people’s lives, to better understand circumstances for encouraging their participation and success. It will compare youth responses to those of tribal elders and community leaders, and new knowledge about the heritage of marae locales and regional language will be acquired from these tribal experts. The information gathered will form the basis of a new multi-access web 2.0 site that will be developed for introduction into local school learning programmes and to iwi/hapū authorities who have their own websites and culture and language policy plans.

A modelling tool to improve the policy response on issues concerning children and young people – University of Auckland

The primary objective of this five-year programme is to construct a simulation model as a decision-support tool for policy-making in the early life course. Its overall aim is to improve our ability to respond across agency boundaries to issues concerning children and young people in a future changing world. It will do this by building a model with data derived from existing longitudinal studies to quantify, for policy purposes, the underlying drivers and determinants of progress in the early life course. The simulation model will be cross-departmental and inform social policy investment decisions over the longer term, providing valuable evidence that is currently lacking.

The Pacific Islands Families Study: Towards Adolescence – AUT University

AUT researchers have been following a cohort of 1,398 Pacific children and their families during the first six years of each child’s life. The aim has been to provide information on the children’s health, cultural, economic, environmental and psychosocial factors considered to be important influences on child health and development and family functioning. This new five-year contract will build on the strong foundations already established and targets the critical pre-pubertal stage of child development at 9 and 11 yrs. A broad group of local and national end-users and policymakers will continue their strong interactive relationships with the AUT team and will access new age-related information to support a wide range of evidence-based strategies, both government and community based, to improve the wellbeing of Pacific peoples.


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