PhD Position Opportunity

Funded PhD Project at the University of Canterbury in Designing High-Value Consumer Products with Cell-Derived Biocomposites

Information and how to apply

Amiomio Aotearoa (logo)

Āmiomio Aotearoa is a transdisciplinary, multi-partner research project funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and hosted by the University of Waikato.

Āmiomio Aotearoa is a novel socio-economic concept that is cyclical in nature and regenerative by design. Bringing together Mātauranga Māori and western science,   the concept aims to move beyond linear extract-produce-use-dispose material and energy flow models in order to optimise the value and use of products, components and materials over time.

How will we achieve this?

Our research will address fundamental knowledge gaps through a multidisciplinary and collaborative research programme that builds on existing, and creates new, areas of research excellence in materials science, economics, kaupapa Māori, business, law and regulation, and public policy. The research platform will play a critical role by connecting and integrating these research communities to develop transformative new knowledge and innovative solutions tailored to Aotearoa New Zealand’s specific geographic, economic, political and societal context.

Our Mission

To create world-leading research to facilitate Aotearoa New Zealand's transition towards the development and adoption of production-consumption systems that optimise circular material flows that reduce resource consumption and environmental impacts, thereby supporting sustainable development for the benefit of current and future generations.

Research Leaders – University of Waikato

Our Team

Āmiomio Aotearoa is led by Kim Pickering. The leadership team also includes Tom RoaLes OxleyBarry BartonEva Collins and Robert Joseph.
The team has grown and now comprises 49 researchers and an advisory board.

The collaboration involves researchers from across disciplines at the University of Waikato, the University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, Lincoln University, the University of Otago, SCION, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, and the University of Stirling, UK. Āmiomio Aotearoa fosters strong research collaborations with various industries and actively engages with multiple community and NGO groups.

Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing – Director, Prof Kim Pickering
Centre for Environmental, Resources & Energy Law – Director, Prof Barry Barton
New Zealand Institute for Business Research – Director, Prof Eva Collins
Te Mata Hautū Taketake – Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre – Director, Dr Robert Joseph

Research Aims

Establishing the Āmiomio Aotearoa Concept

We will create a blueprint for the Āmiomio Aotearoa concept, informed by Aotearoa NZ’s unique bi-cultural history and its societal, political, geographic, policy and market setting. The concept, co-created in partnership with Māori, will inform and guide future research and innovation activities, and will be created to dynamically and meaningfully represent the bi-cultural core values upon which is it founded (Māori/NZ European), to ensure its long-term relevance to national and international research agendas in the circular economy space.

Materials and Design

The circular economy transition requires a paradigm shift in society’s relationship with products, and the materials from which they are made. Through this research we aim to develop new niche products that will contribute to the disruption of the status quo, and to develop design processes that start from a position of non-acceptance of current conceptions of ‘waste’ and ‘end of (product) life’ to support the development of new ways of ‘doing’ design, and designing out waste.

People, Business, and Policy

NZ faces particular opportunities and challenges in moving towards a circular economy. Opportunity spaces include consideration of the potential gains to be derived from, for example, the incorporation of Māori concepts such as para kore (zero waste) into the development of new sustainable business models. Challenge spaces often relate to difficulties associated with achieving fundamental and widescale behaviour change, for example, how can NZ’s large SME sector be encouraged (and supported) to achieve significant improvements in their rates of low-grade recycling and more general waste minimisation? To achieve a circular economy, innovation is required across business practice, economic theory, regulatory frameworks, and consumer behaviours, supported by in-depth knowledge of existing assets, materials, energy, and utility requirements, and policy development. We will explore which intrinsic (pro-environmental/social) and extrinsic (financial, regulatory, reputational) motivational factors can be supported by policy to influence sustainable production and consumption, taking account of the numerous challenges created by multiple path dependencies (e.g. long-standing norms, mental models, operating procedures, and cognitive biases).

Call for Research

PhD Position Opportunity

We are seeking a self-motivated PhD applicant with an excellent academic record and strong written skills to work on utilising the product design process for the development of high-value composite consumer products using PHA polymers and waste-based fibers. This PhD position is based at the University of Canterbury and is co-funded by Āmiomio Aotearoa and the Biomolecular Interaction Centre at the University of Canterbury. For more information about this exciting PhD opportunity, please click the link below:

More information on the project and how to apply


Inspiration for the Āmiomio Aotearoa Tohu (Design)

The name ‘Āmiomio Aotearoa’ was gifted to us by Associate Professor/Manukura Tom Roa (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato).

Key elements incorporated into the tohu include reference to a takarangi (spiral), which promotes shifting states of energy, spiralling inwards and outwards. The koru represents growth and multiple koru are inclusive of Māori, NZ Europeans and other peoples. The swirling patterns between the koru represent the flowing waters, currents and swirls within the awa o Waikato (Waikato River), locating this collaboration within the University of Waikato and on the tribal lands of the Waikato people.

Āmiomio Aotearoa promotes the weaving of two knowledge systems: mātauranga Māori and western science.

General Enquiries

[email protected]