Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

A letter of thanks from the Vice-Chancellor

Wednesday 16 December 2020 9:08am

Harlene Hayne image
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne

Kia ora,

Eight months ago, I wrote to you announcing the University’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic, outlining the steps we were about to take to care for our students, staff, and global community of alumni and friends.

Our number one priority throughout these challenging months has been to keep our students, staff, and communities safe and well. In order to support students facing financial hardship as a direct result of the pandemic, I launched the Pūtea Tautoko fund.

You responded to my call to join me in contributing to the fund, and I am so grateful that you did.

Over 700 members of the Otago community have participated in this appeal to date, contributing in excess of $442,000.

Your generosity has provided much needed support to more than 2,500 students. You’ve read how your donation has made a difference to Charlotte, and to Duncan, Victoria, and baby Lucy. All of the students, and their families, whom you have helped, are extremely thankful to you.

You have helped support students across the University from all kinds of backgrounds. About 80 per cent of the grants have been awarded to domestic students and 20 per cent to international students. About 25 per cent of the domestic grants were for Māori students and almost 20 per cent for Pacific students.

At the University of Otago, we have a strong commitment to manaakitanga - hospitality, kindness and support. It is deeply touching to receive the same commitment from you to some of our most vulnerable students. Thank you.

With my deepest gratitude,

Professor Harlene Hayne
University of Otago


Pūtea Tautoko’s vital contribution to our students:


  • More than $442,000 donated by 700 alumni, friends, staff, students and parents of current students.

  • More than 400 first -time donors to Otago.

  • In 2020, the total funding available for Pūtea Tautoko grants and awards was more than $4 million – this includes $1.5 million from the University of Otago; Government funding; and donations.

  • At the beginning of December, more than $3,940,000 has been awarded in grants.

  • In addition, $454k in grants in 2021 have been allocated for postgraduate research students.

  • More than 2,579 students have received an award, equating to 15% of our student cohort.

  • 80 per cent of grants were allocated to domestic students and 20 per cent to international students.

  • Within the domestic student cohort, 499 recipients (23.9 per cent) have been of Māori ethnicity, and 405 (15.7 per cent) of Pacific ethnicity.

  • 374 (14.5 per cent) doctoral grants, 308 (11.9 per cent) non-doctoral postgraduate grants, and 1888 (73.6 per cent) undergraduate/other grants.

(Figures are provisional as of 9 December)