Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group

Street art - large wall with image of faces, city buildings behind

Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination is a multidisciplinary international research team and ‘civics-lab’, at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The 21st century is the century of the city. By 2050, seven in ten people will live in an urbanizing area. Against this dynamic background, the research team, led by Professor Bronwyn Hayward investigates citizenship and civic governance, participation and democratic urbanization, with a particular focus on sustainability and issues for children and future generations.

Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group
. Hei Puāwaitanga, to flourish and live well into the future is a vision that inspires our collective research. Our aim is to identify, understand and strengthen the long term conditions of intergenerational justice that enable communities to flourish in the context of environmental, social and economic change. Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainable Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group is a cluster of researchers drawn from across faculties at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. We work with national and international collaborators to support communities to flourish. From our diverse backgrounds, our research effort is Influenced by He Awa Whiria, the Braided Rivers approach (Macfarlane et al 2019). We aim to braid new knowledge from the insights of Mātauranga Māori, and interdisciplinary study to generate new understanding about how communities learn to take far-reaching, transformative action for a more sustainable future.

"Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini.”  My success is not mine alone but the success of a collective.


Funding support for projects and ongoing partnership support from:



 National Science Challege Deep South logo


Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group’s
researchers include staff from across four Colleges of the University of Canterbury and research collaborators from other institutions, nationally and internationally. Our research is organised in four themes.

Theme One: CYCLES Children and youth in cities and sustainability

This theme is lead by Professor Bronwyn Hayward (UC) and Dr Kate Prendergast, Research Manager (UC) with Dr Sylvia Nissen (Lincoln) and 6 world city collaborators: Prof Tim Jackson (Director of our partner organisation CUSP, University of Surrey) with Dr Kate Burningham (Surrey) and Dr Sue Venn (Surrey);  Dr Ingrid Schudel (Rhodes, SA); Helio Mattar (Akatu, Brazil); Vimlendu Jha (Swechha, India); Dr Midori Aoyagi and Dr Aya Yoshida (National Institute for Environmental Studies Japan) and Mehedi Hasan UC Politics PhD candidate and lecturer Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh). More information about our CYCLES project is available here.

the Cycles children and youth in cities lifestyles evaluation and sustainability team meets for global workshops twice a year, face to face or virtually to coordinate and share our insights 
The CYCLES Children and Youth in Cities Lifestyles Evaluation and Sustainability team meets for global workshops twice a year, face to face or virtually to coordinate and share our insights.

Theme Two: Civics Lab - democratic innovations for a fairer future

This project is led by Professor Bronwyn HaywardDr Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald, Associate Professor Sacha McMeekingDr Hilary Dutton and Dr Kate Prendergast. In the CIVICs Lab we are working on the campaign to “Make it 16”, lowering the age of the vote in New Zealand. The two outreach events below were chaired by our team with the NZ Political Science Association.

Where to Now? Civics, Citizenship & Political Literacy education in NZ (2020)

Lowering the Voting Age to 16, lessons from Scotland and Austria for NZ

Busting Myths About Voting At 16

Theme Three: Mana Rangatahi - how do we support young people in a changing climate?

This project is funded by the Deep South National Science Challenge and co-lead by Assc Prof Sacha McMeeking, Prof Steven Ratuva, Prof Bronwyn Hayward and Assc Prof Yvonne Crichton-Hill

With advisors: Professor Angus MacfarlaneAssociate Professor Sara Tolbert, Dr Bronwyn Wood (Victoria University ) and Prof Niki Harre (Auckland University). The project identifies indigenous strengths-based leadership approaches for youth aged 12-14 and whanau to lead in a changed climate. Find out more about Mana Rangatahi.

Mana Rangatahi researchers group photo

Theme Four: Wellbeing, Sustainability and Future Generations

With Dr Kate Prendergast, Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Dr Emily Beausoleil (Victoria University Wellington), Professor Angus MacfarlaneProfessor Steven RatuvaDr Yvonne Crichton Hill (Social Work), Dr Naimah Talib (Political Science), Dr Francis Yapp (Music), Associate Professor Natalie Baird (Law), Dr Matt Scobie (Business), Dr Mahdis Azarmandi (Education), Victoria Escaip (Spanish) and Susan Bouterey (Japanese).

SDG6: In 2019 our research group hosted the first of a series of ongoing public conversations to create community connections across difference the first about the sustainable development goal 6 water: Ko te wai te ora nga mea katoa: water is the life giver of all things, Six  youth leaders from Hei Puāwaitanga in conversation with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in November 2019 about the value of water to wellbeing across our cultures.

SDG16: In 2020 we were funded by UNESCO to develop courageous community conversations to promote the SDG16 peace building in the wake of the 2019 attacks to build community understanding and we have worked in partnership funding PYLAT Pacific Youth leadership and Transformation with Josiah Tualamali'i  https://www.facebook.com/PYLATCOUNCIL1/ to develop a forum for all young people in the region to discuss hate speech laws, and we supported and the Inspired Summit with the Muslim Students association and Bariz Shah to support conversations about leadership for peace across cultures. We also funded the July 2021 issue of Anti-racist Soup a zine with Dr Mahdis Azarmandi.

SDG 3 Good health and wellbeing: What does good health and wellbeing mean across generations, diverse communities and cultures? A research project lead by Dr Kate Prendergast with Victoria Escaip, Dr Susan Bouterey, Ana Terra Amorim-Maia, Bronwyn Hayward and Lindsey McDonald.


Theme One: Children and youth wellbeing in cities

Md. Mehedi Hasan

Youth empowerment through green space and transport in Dhaka City

Theme Two: Civics Lab

Sara Abbasi

Sophie Goossens

Collaborative housing and citizenship

Amelia Woods

School strikes and climate justice

Theme Three: Governance in a changing climate





Journal papers

  • Prendergast K., Hayward B., Aoyagi M., Burningham K., Hasan MM., Jackson T., Jha V., Kuroki L., Loukianov A. and Mattar H. (2021) Youth Attitudes and Participation in Climate Protest: An International Cities Comparison Frontiers in Political Science Special Issue: Youth Activism in Environmental Politics. Frontiers in Political Science 3 http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpos.2021.696105.
  • Nissen S., Prendergast K., Aoyagi M., Burningham K., Hasan MM., Hayward B., Jackson T., Jha V., Mattar H. and Schudel I. (2020) Young people and environmental affordances in urban sustainable development: insights into transport and green and public space in seven cities. Sustainable Earth 3(1) 17 http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s42055-020-00039-w.
  • Hayward B., Hinge Salili D., Leo Tupuana’i L. and Tualamali’i’ J. (2020) It’s Not “Too Late”. Learning from Small Pacific Island Developing States in a Warming World. WIREs Climate Change 11(1) http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wcc.612.
  • Tolbert S., Mackey G., Manning R., Carter H. and Hayward B. (2020) Social Agency and Ecoliteracy: Seeds of Change for Teacher Education in Uncertain Climate Futures. Set: Research Information for Teachers Online First.
  • Burningham K., Hayward B., Venn S., Nissen S., Aoyagi M., Hasan M., Jha V., Mattar H., Schudel I. and Yoshida A. (2019) Ethics in context: Essential flexibility in an international photo-elicitation project with children and young. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 23.
  • Hayward B. and Roy J. (2019) Sustainable Living: Bridging the North-South Divide in Lifestyles and Consumption Debates. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 44: 157-175. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-101718-033119.
  • Nissen S., Hayward B. and McManus R. (2019) Student debt and wellbeing: a research agenda. Kotuitui 14(2): 245-256. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1177083X.2019.1614635.
  • Thomas A., Cretney R. and Hayward B. (2019) Student Strike 4 Climate: Justice, emergency and citizenship. New Zealand Geographer 75(2): 96-100. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nzg.12229.
  • Hayward BM. and Sygna L. (2018) Editorial overview: Sustainability governance and transformation: 1.5°C climate change and social transformation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 31 1: iv-v. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.05.010.
  • O'Brien K., Selboe E. and Hayward BM. (2018) Exploring youth activism on climate change: Dutiful, disruptive, and dangerous dissent. Ecology and Society 23(3) 42 http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10287-230342.
  • Hayward BM. (2016) Editorial: Civics Citizenship and Political Literacy. SET: Research information for teachers (3): 1-3.https://doi.org/10.18296/set.0049
  • Hayward BM. and Wood B. (2016) Editorial: Civics Citizenship and Political Literacy. SET -Research Information for Teachers (3): 1-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.18296/set.0049.
  • Hayward B. and Tolbert S. (2021) Conversations on citizenship, critical hope, and climate change. In Wallace M; Bazzul J; Higgins M; Tolbert S (Ed.), Reimagining science education in the Anthropocene Palgrave.https://link.springer.com/book/9783030796211


23 May 2023: Free public transport is a great start – but young people won’t give NZ governments a free ride on climate change

Youth in Christchurch told us they “hoped” but “could never imagine that busses would be free” as part of the global CYCLES study we lead with CUSP.  Dr Kate Prendergast and Prof Bronwyn Hayward react to the government’s Budget 2023 announcement of free public transport for children in this article in The Conversation.

10 May 2023: ‘Youth in our cities – How can we support our young people to live well and thrive?’ - Dr Kate Prendergast joins Canterbury researchers in an evening of talks

Dr Prendergast spoke about how cities can support young people to live well and thrive at the event ‘We’re talking Hauora’ hosted by Te Papa Hauora. Her talk identified conditions and opportunities for city councils to support youth wellbeing aspirations in low carbon ways. Watch the full event recording here

2 March 2023: The UC Foundation: Hei Puāwaitanga: Research Group for Future generations, Sustainability and Civic Imagination launches

We celebrated the ‘soft’ launch of our research group led by Prof Bronwyn Hayward as a charity under the UC Foundation: Hei Puāwaitanga: Research Group for Future generations, Sustainability and Civic Imagination. The well attended event featured talks by visiting scholar Ana Terra Amorim-Maia, Hei Puāwaitanga Research Associate MahMah Timoteo and Research Manager Dr Kate Prendergast.

Ana Terra Amorim-Maia, a researcher with the Barcelona Urban Lab for Environmental Justice, says Barcelona already provides climate shelters within 10 mins walk to keep citizens cool and aims to have shelters in 5mins walk across all the city by 2030.

MahMah Timoteo talked from her PhD on how NZ Pacific communities are marginalised by initiatives that fail to tackle intersectionality.

Dr Kate Prendergast talked about what we are learning about how cities can support youth wellbeing in low carbon sustainable ways from our CUSP study funded by the ESRC of children growing up in 7 cities.

Find out more about the charity here: https://alumni.canterbury.ac.nz/-hei-puawaitanga

9 November 2021: Film screening and discussion

#YoungLives7Cities: Film Screening and Panel Discussion with award winning filmmaker Amanda Blue and CUSP researchers

Young people in Cities documentary film

Join us for a very special online screening of our two new short documentaries—together with our #YoungLives7Cities research partners in NZ, ZA and UK. When: 9 Nov, 10pm(NZ), 11am(ZA) and 9am(UK).

This event is online. Register for tickets now on Eventbrite.

21 July 2021: 2021 Research report available now

The Sustainable Development, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research report 2021 is now available for download.

22 July 2021: Ōtautahi Mataora! - Christchurch Alive!   

Ōtautahi Mataora! - Christchurch Alive! was a free public conference on  youth wellbeing on 22 July 2021 with a film screening and research findings presentation. The three discussion panels are available in full to watch on Youtube at the links below. 
Dear Christchurch/Otautahi a SCCI zoom discussion with film producer Amanda Blue and students of Christchurch about a film about growing up in Christchurch funded with CUSP UK and the ESRC: https://youtu.be/aoyajQl8SKY 

How to support youth flourishing in cities? – SCCI 2021 panel discussion chaired by Dame Sue Bagshaw with Dr Kate Prendergast, Donna Provoost and Dr M. Mehedi Hasan: https://youtu.be/ntoI9laOgfQ

How income impacts youth wellbeing? A SCCI 2021 Panel Discussion chaired by Josiah Tualamali’i with Dr Sylvia Nissen, Wendy Alabaster and Helen Leahy: https://youtu.be/UReBjvKK6mM

June 2020: CYCLES project research display tours Christchurch libraries

A display about the  CYCLES research project featuring photos children and students took about the sustainability of their everyday lives is currently touring Christchurch libraries. In June and July it is in Riccarton Library.

21 April 2020: Ōtautahi Mataora – Christchurch Living survey

What do you like about do you like about living in Ōtautahi Christchurch? What would you change?

Tell us here! https://otautahimataora.com/

What’s this study about?

How can we live well in cities so young people can flourish but not stress the planet? Research teams in seven cities around the world are exploring this question.

From Christchurch in New Zealand to Delhi (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Lambeth (United Kingdom), Makhanda (South Africa), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Yokohama (Japan), researchers have been asking how young people aged 12-24 years, get around and get away, what kind of energy are they using to heat their homes, have fun, work and study? What are they eating? What do they like about their city and what do they want to change?

Young city residents also took photos of a day in their life, showing the everyday things they do, as habits, for recreation or work so we can think about what it takes to live well with less energy and less stuff.

Now it’s your turn! Are you aged 12-24? Living in Christchurch? We want to hear your views on what you like and would like to change about living in Christchurch Ōtautahi.

Have questions? Please get in touch with kate.prendergast@canterbury.ac.nz

*Ethical approval granted by the University of Canterbury’s Human Ethics Committee

10 April 2020: Ōtautahi Mataora in the news

Dr Kate Prendergast talks with the Christchurch Star about the Ōtautahi Mataora – Christchurch Living survey. https://www.odt.co.nz/star-news/star-christchurch/new-study-captures-what-young-cantabrians-want. Led by Professor Bronwyn Hayward with Dr Kate Prendergast of the Sustainable Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group | Hei Puāwaitanga, the Ōtautahi Mataora – Christchurch Living survey is part of the CYCLES (Children and Youth in Cities – Lifestyle Evaluations and Sustainability) study. The Ōtautahi Mataora – Christchurch Living survey and wider CYCLES research is aiming to understand how young people can live well in sustainable ways.

17 October 2019: SCCI researchers respond to UNICEF’s repot on Children, food and nutrition

SCCI researchers Assc Prof Bronwyn Hayward and Dr Kate Prendergast respond to UNICEF’s shocking global report which reveals that at least two out of three children in the world are not fed the minimum of a healthy diverse diet. https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/news/2019/uc-researchers-respond-to-disturbing-children-and-nutrition-global-report.html


SCCI Contacts

Kate Prendergast

Research Manager
Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group
Internal Phone: 90467

Bronwyn Hayward

Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group
Elsie Locke Building 609

Josiah Tualamali'i

Public Engagement and Outreach Planner
Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group
Internal Phone: 95215

Lisa Henley

SCCI Research Associate

Dawn Miller-McTaggart

SCCI Research Associate
Matariki - Level 2 North
Internal Phone: 94011

MahMah Timoteo

SCCI Research Assistant