Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainable Development, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group

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

The international research group for Sustainable Development, Citizenship and Civic Imagination: Hei Puāwaitanga, is a multidisciplinary 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.

Hei Puāwaitanga: Sustainable Development, 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 team has three sub-groups:

a)     Citizenship and critical hope: 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, Dr Bronwyn Wood (Victoria University ) and Prof Niki Harre (Auckland University).

b)     Leadership for sustainability This stream identifies how to support citizen- leadership and includes Professor Alex Tan (Asia’s youth and citizenship) and Dr Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald (Indigenous citizenship) Professor Jeanette King, Sacha McMeekingProfessor Annelies Kamp (Student leadership), Associate Professor Billy O’Steen (Student volunteering) and Professor Steven Ratuva Director of MacMillian Brown Centre (Pacific citizenship and innovation)

Theme Three: Governance in a changing climate This theme examines what governance choices, leadership and cultural innovations can best support cities and urbanizing regions to flourish, adapt to and continue to mitigate climate change above 1.5 Deg C? Professor Bronwyn Hayward with urban geographers Dr Kelly DombroskiDr Rita Dionisio and Dr Ed Challies (Earth Science and water governance), Dr Aaron Kreisler (Fine Arts) and Dr Pascale Hatcher.

Theme Four: Courageous community conversations (Lead researcher TBC) with Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Professor Angus Macfarlane, Professor 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).
In 2019 our research group hosted the first of a series of ongoing conversations: Ko te wai te ora nga mea katoa: water is the life giver of all things, 6 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.
Conversations in 2020 TBC.



Theme One: Children and youth wellbeing in cities

Md. Mehedi Hasan

POLS PhD candidate - Youth empowerment through green space and transport in Dhaka City

Theme Two: Civics Lab

Sara Abbasi

Business & Law PhD candidate - Citizenship and international rights

Sophie Goossens

LAW PhD candidate - Collaborative housing and citizenship

Mohamed Shareef

EDUC PhD - Education for sustainable development in the Maldives

Amelia Woods

POLS PhD candidate - School strikes and climate justice

Theme Three: Governance in a changing climate

Abby Mather

MPAG - Citizen assemblies and climate

Luisa Leo

POLS PhD candidate - Pacific diaspora in a changing climate

Edward Lewis

MPAG - Climate policy and New Zealand viticulture

Hannah Watkinson

MFA - The economic transition of Buller area - a photographic study


Funding support for projects and ongoing partnership support from:

CUSP logo - SCCI partner institution


UiO Dept of Sociology and Human Geography logo - SCCI partner

NZ Ministry for the Environment logo 2020

UNESCO logo 2020




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!   

This free public event runs from 5.30 pm, 22 July 2021 with a film screening and research findings presentation. Book at the UC event page.  

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
Sustainable Development, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group
Internal Phone: 90467

Bronwyn Hayward

Sustainable Development, Citizenship and Civic Imagination Research Group
Elsie Locke Building 609
Internal Phone: 95114

Josiah Tualamali'i

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