Come join our team to help research mātauranga Māori led approaches to circular design in construction!

Do you care about the future of our built world? We are looking for a tauira (student) interested in helping to shift the narrative in how research is done in Aotearoa New Zealand, so that it is more inclusive of indigenous knowledge and ensures the construction industry is doing all it can for a better tomorrow.

If this sounds like you, and you’re interested to do a PhD at the University of Canterbury – nau mai, haere mai, we’d love to hear from you!

Be quick! Applications close Friday 15 September, 2023.

Korero papamuri | Background

Through the kaupapa of the Endeavour Research Fund we are offering scholarships for research that draws on the wisdom that comes from mātauranga Māori and our collective intelligence from our whanaunga across Moana nui a Kiwa (Pacific Islands) to develop strategies that protect te taiao (the environment) and support our future generations.

Our aim is to work with you to develop strategies that respond to our role as kaitiaki (guardians) of te ao (the world) by addressing climate change and transforming the construction industry into an inclusive, negative carbon economy through the development of circular design. This research is part of a larger project titled “Construction 4.0 transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s construction sector”.

We need your unique perspective to help us find ways to resolve uncertainties around the ecosystem and connectivity of mātauranga Māori and the circular design concept as applicable to Aotearoa New Zealand’s construction sector. Circular design advocates rethinking the process of creating a product from the beginning. To do so, designers must embrace sustainability, respect and protection for te taiao (the environment). The concept applies to a variety of construction materials and methods including the applications of structural steel.

About the mahi you will do:

You will support the University of Canterbury’s component of the HERA Construction 4.0 Circular Design theme.

This involves:

  • liaison with key stakeholders (including Māori representation) regarding structural form, optimisation constraint weightings, and required output for case study buildings; and
  • developing computer models for architectural form selection, structural analysis and optimisation, BIM/detailing, data collection, likely construction time and cost, sustainability, human well-being, and outputs for stakeholders.


Please note that experimental studies will also be considered – time and funding permitting.

If successful, you’ll work with a multidisciplinary international expert team of researchers who will develop 4.0 data-based digitally integrated design concepts optimised for environmental impact, manufacturability, constructability and reuse incorporating mātauranga Māori interfaces.


Whakaritenga – what is the application criteria?

You must be a tauira who has whakapapa Māori (is of Māori descent) or a pākehā or tauiwi student with a passion for embracing and raising up indigenous knowledge in construction-focused research.

You should hold a master’s degree in structural engineering and have a history of exceptional academic performance.

You should have excellent communication skills and be able to communicate fluently in English.

Additional skills in te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, construction management, earthquake engineering, numerical analysis, computer programming, and optimisation would be beneficial.

Mō mātou | About us

Wāhi | Location

Ōtautahi (Christchurch), is the second largest city in Aotearoa New Zealand, and has a population of about 400,000 people. It is close to Opuke (Mount Hutt) and Te Ahu Patiki (Mount Herbert). Local awa (rivers) include the Waimakari, Ōtākaro (Avon) and Ōpāwaho (Heathcote) which connect to the moana (sea) offering a high quality of life.

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha (The University of Canterbury) is known for its leadership in civil, and particularly structural engineering. The Department of Civil and Natural Resources engineering is rated #11 in the world according to the Shanghai rating system.


Puna putea | Funding

This kaupapa (project) has received putea (funding) through Aotearoa New Zealand’s government department – Hīkina Whakatutuki, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as part of the 2022 round of Endeavour Funding.

This was awarded to HERA as part of their “Construction 4.0 transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s construction sector” research program.

This scholarship will include New Zealand $25,000 per year for three years plus tuition fees.

All candidates will also be encouraged to apply for, and transfer to, a Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha Doctoral Scholarship valued at $28,000 per year plus tuition fees.


Keen to apply?

We are excited to start a process of whanaungatanga (connection) with you.

If you are interested to apply, or require further details – please get in touch with Prof. Gregory MacRae, University of Canterbury via email on:


As part of your application, please send:

  • your resume;
  • academic transcript;
  • publications;
  • names of three references; and
  • any other supporting information.


This should be done by close of business, Friday 15 September 2023.


Prof. MacRae enjoys working with people to solve problems which benefit the life of people. You can find out more about him and his works here.

Meet our research theme leaders