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Strengthening the workforce

The Health Research Council plays a key role in developing and sustaining New Zealand’s health research workforce.

Howard Maxwell from the University of Otago

Howard Maxwell from the University of Otago was awarded a 2018 HRC Māori Health Research Career Development Award. Photo: University of Otago

Our funding enables researchers at all stages of their careers to pursue innovative, meaningful research of international merit and of benefit to New Zealanders.

We’re also committed to funding and training Māori and Pacific health researchers, so they can take the lead in addressing issues affecting Māori and Pacific communities now and into the future.

How we do it

At any given time, our funding supports more than 2000 research positions across the country, and spans across the following:

Emerging researchers and future leaders
We target funding towards future research leaders, with grants like our Sir Charles Hercus Research Fellowship which provides salary support for emerging researchers who wish to establish a health research career in New Zealand. To date, 100% of these Fellows have gone on to secure one of our highly-competitive Project or Programme grants to help them remain active in NZ health research.

Sir Richard Faull, The University of Auckland

The HRC has supported the research of Sir Richard Faull and his team for over 26 years. 

We’ve supported some of the country's preeminent researchers throughout their careers. One example is New Zealand's leading brain expert, Professor Sir Richard Faull (pictured), who first won HRC funding in 1991 and has since worked on 5 HRC-funded programme grants and 4 project grants.

Māori career development awards
Through career development grants available to Māori researchers at all stages of their careers, we are building the Māori health research workforce to ensure NZ has the capacity to address unique indigenous health issues. Around 16% of researchers working on HRC-funded research now identify as Māori, and our strategies for building the indigenous workforce are recognised internationally.

Pacific career development awards
Building Pacific health knowledge, research paradigms and capacity to undertake Pacific-led research in partnership with Pacific communities is crucial to improving the health of Pacific peoples.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu from the University of Otago

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu from the University of Otago was awarded an HRC Pacific Emerging Researcher grant in 2018 and later that year received the HRC's Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Fellowship. Photo: University of Otago

In our 2020 Pacific Career Development Awards, we awarded 25 grants, including the Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Fellowship; the Pacific Clinical Research Training Fellowship; the Pacific Knowledge Translation Grant, PhD Scholarships; Master's Scholarships, and Summer Studentships. We also invested $2.40 million in four Pacific Health Projects, which are also key in increasing research capacity and advancing the careers of Pacific researchers.

Fellowships for clinical researchers and practitioners
With our Clinical Research Training Fellowships and our Clinical Practitioner Research Fellowships, we enable clinicians at the frontline of health services to pursue research opportunities, not only improving the quality of health practices in New Zealand, but enabling clinicians to fulfil career goals on home soil. In addition to these career development awards, over half of all HRC research contracts currently include a practising clinician based at a DHB or PHO.

All our Career Development Award opportunities are available here on HRC Gateway.