Background, MBIE Review & Future Strategy

Ageing Well is one of 11 National Science Challenges that were allocated funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for ten years (NZ$ 34.9M; 2015-2024). The funding has been separated into two parts: Phase One from 2014-2019 and Phase Two from 2019-2024. Phase Two funding was allocated in June 2019, following the satisfactory completion of an MBIE-initiated review.

As part of the review process, we submitted our Future Strategy document to MBIE on 2nd July 2018. Our Future Strategy maps out where we plan to take our research over the next five years. The document also served as the cornerstone of a presentation we made to an MBIE-appointed Independent Review Panel in August, at which we made a very strong case for another five years of investment. In November 2018 Ageing Well was notified that the Independent Review Panel’s recommendation to MBIE, and the Science Board recommendation was that the Ageing Well National Science Challenge should be funded for Phase Two.

For Phase Two, Ageing Well proposes to build upon our previously gazetted research themes through two Focus Areas: Health and Well-being in Ageing and Ageing and Māori (Figure 1 below). These areas were identified after extensive consultation that underscored the strong view that the original Gazette themes are too compartmentalised to facilitate the next phase of multidisciplinary, cross-institutional collaborations. Our future research will strive to take a more integrated approach to completing our Challenge Objective.

Our blueprint for Ageing Research (2019-24): Selecting Focus Areas

Focus Areas were identified after stakeholder engagement and detailed discussion and consideration by the Directorate, Strategic Advisory Group, and Governance Group, on the basis that they can:

  • Thematically integrate multiple pieces of research
  • Align with the overall Challenge Objective for Ageing Well
  • Provide significant and transformative outcomes within funding and timeline constraints
  • Build upon existing research capacity and capability in New Zealand
  • Build from current and aligned research and are informed by analysis of gaps
  • Provide potential to deliver equity and/or reduce inequality for Māori and Pacific peoples, including delivering on Vision Mātauranga
  • Engage with important stakeholders, to partner with the Challenge in translation and implementation of research outcomes.

Research Priorities and Themes


Figure 1: Ageing Well Focus Areas for 2019-2024: Two Focus Areas will be supported by specific Strategic Investment Initiatives.

Research Priorities have been defined for each Focus Area based on consultation feedback. These Research Priorities will be used to direct Ageing Well’s funding within each Focus Area.

In addition, Ageing Well’s investment will be expected to address cross cutting themes.

Cross-Cutting Themes

Integrating the Focus Areas, the Strategy includes four cross-cutting themes:

  • Equitable outcomes for diverse communities (Required)
  • Delivering on Vision Mātauranga (Required)
  • Considering intergenerational relationships (To Be Considered)
  • Taking a lifecourse approach (To Be Considered)


Figure 2: Cross-cutting themes provide integration across research activities.

Current Funding Structure

Funding Structure

In November 2018, Ageing Well announced our successful refunding by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) through to 2024. Ageing Well was awarded $20.3 million to continue our work, specifically focusing on two research areas: Health and Well-being in Ageing and Ageing and Māori. In 2019, Ageing Well allocated $10 million to fund research in the two research areas. $5 million in funding was awarded to the Ageing Well through Eating, Sleeping, Socialising and Mobility Programme (AWESSoM) project and $5 million was allocated to the Ageing and Māori focus area. Two projects were successfully funded in this focus area: Tai Kaumātuatanga Older Māori Wellbeing and Participation: Present and Future Focus project and the Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Pōi: Enhancing Wellbeing, Social Connectedness and Cultural Identity project.

Strategic Investment Initiatives Ageing Well National Science Challenge recognises the limits to the resource it can direct, and that there is value in working alongside other research funders and consortia, that aligns with our vision and mission. To that end, we expect to collaborate and co-fund research with:

  • The other ‘health and well-being’ Challenges (A Better Start National Science Challenge and Healthier Lives National Science Challenge)
  • Brain Research New Zealand (Centre of Research Excellence)
  • Building Better Homes Towns and Cities National Science Challenge

Ageing Well funded 8 Emergent Opportunities projects in 2019. The Emergent Opportunities grants were established to provide funding for unexpected research ideas that have been identified from Phase one projects, with the expectation that such work could lead to either stand-alone results and impact that are different and new to the Phase one project. Each project award is up to a maximum of $200,000 for a period of 12 months.

Please come back for information and subscribe to our newsletter for future funding notices. 

Funding Opportunities

Prestigious PhD Scholarships for Māori and Pacific Research


The Ageing Well National Science Challenge (“the Challenge”) seeks to fund three prestigious PhD scholarships, two for Māori candidates and one for a Pacific candidate, with the twin aims of developing research capacity and building excellent research into ageing well for Māori and Pacific peoples. 

The Prestigious Scholarships are available to Māori and Pacific candidates, who already hold a PhD scholarship, and who are, or are about to be, enrolled in their PhD course. The Prestigious Scholarship will provide funding on top of the existing scholarship, up to an additional 50% of the existing scholarship stipend. The amount awarded will be dependent on the allowable additional stipend as specified by the existing scholarship funder. The Prestigious Scholarship will be for a maximum of three years full-time, or the pro-rata equivalent for part-time.

Research on issues related to Māori and Pacific Peoples’ ageing funded through these Prestigious Scholarships will help to build upon and expand the scope and potential impacts from the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, while ensuring new researchers and ideas are incorporated into the Challenge’s work. Ageing Well is committed to supporting the development of Māori and Pacific research capability, and to advancing Vision Mātauranga, and to fund research that will have equitable outcomes for diverse communities.

The Challenge reserves the right to ask for further information from applicants, who may also be required to participate in an interview as part of the assessment process. The Prestigious Scholarship may start any time after 1 April 2021, but before 30 June 2021. Scholarships may be either full-time or part-time, but the Scholarship and funding must end on or before 31 March 2024.


We understand the circumstances of individual applicants may differ. If you are uncertain about your eligibility, please contact us to discuss further. 

To be eligible for the Prestigious Scholarship, applicants must:

  • be New Zealand citizens or hold residency in New Zealand at the time of application and be of Māori or Pacific descent;
  • provide evidence of admission into a PhD programme at the time of application, and either have started work in the programme, or be about to start;
  • have been awarded a PhD scholarship;
  • be undertaking their PhD research in an area that aligns with the Ageing Well National Science Challenge mission “to harness science to sustain health and well-being into the later years of life enabling all New Zealanders to reach their full potential”[1];
  • be undertaking their PhD research in an area that considers one or more of Ageing Well National Science Challenge’s cross-cutting themes: Equitable outcomes for diverse communities; Delivering on Vision Mātauranga; Considering intergenerational relationships; Taking a lifecourse approach; and
  • be able to commence the Prestigious Scholarship before the end of June 2021.

Key Dates

Opening date: 5 November, 2020.

Closing date: 28 January, 2021.

Applicants informed of decision: 8 March, 2021.

Funding commences: from 1 April, 2021.


Further Information

For further information about the application process, please read the Funding Guidelines [PDF]

For an application, please download the Ageing Well Application Form [DOC]


[1] Further information on the work of the Ageing Well National Science Challenge is available through 


What will be funded in this PhD Scholarship round?

Ageing Well will be funding Prestigious PhD Scholarships for Māori and Pacific research. We seek to fund three prestigious PhD scholarships, two for Māori candidates and one for a Pacific candidate, with the twin aims of developing research capacity and building excellent research into ageing well for Māori and Pacific peoples.

For further information about this opportunity and how to apply, please view the Funding Guidelines.

How will I find out about the key dates for funding opportunities in 2019-24?

Please keep a close watch on our media releases, newsletter, and website. We will be updating our social media on regular basis with all the latest information.

What is your funding appeals process?

With each funding round we release a specific appeals process with accurate timelines to lodge your appeal. Here is an example of the appeals process document used in a previous funding round.