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 Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward investigates citizenship and civic governance, participation and democratic urbanization, with a particular focus on sustainability and inclusion especially for children and youth.

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 conditions 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 colleges at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand which works 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 insights about how communities learn to take far-reaching, transformative action for a more sustainable future. The focus of our research is urban. The 21st century is the century of the city. By 2050, seven in ten people globally will live in an urbanizing area. Against this dynamic background, our research and our allied teaching focuses in particular on four themes: Children and Youth Sustainable Lifestyles in Cities (CYCLES); Citizenship and sustainable development goals; Governance in a changing climate; and Courageous community conversations.

"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:





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 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 This project is led by Professor Bronwyn HaywardDr Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald, Sacha McMeeking, 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

Theme Three: Ecological Citizenship and critical hope in a changing world: How do we support young people in a changing climate? this project is led by Professor Bronwyn Hayward with Professor Angus MacfarlaneAssociate Professor Sara TolbertGlynne Mackey, Sacha McMeeking Dr Bronwyn Wood (Victoria University ) and Prof Niki Harre (Auckland University). Dr Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald (Indigenous citizenship) Professor Jeanette King, Sacha McMeekingProfessor Steven Ratuva Director of MacMillian Brown Centre (Pacific citizenship and innovation).

Theme Four: Courageous conversations for sustainability with Professor Bronwyn HaywardProfessor Angus MacfarlaneProfessor Steven RatuvaDr Yvonne Crichton Hill (Social Work), Dr Naimah Talib (Poltiical Science), Dr Francis Yapp (Music), Associate Professor Natalie Baird (Law), Dr Matt Scobie (Business), Dr Mahdis Azarmandi (Education) and Dr Emily Beausoleil (Victoria University Wellington).

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



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


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
Internal Phone: 95114

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
Otakaro 215 - 235
Internal Phone: 94011