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Welcome to He Kitenga, an annual research highlights book published by the University of Otago to showcase research of topical importance.

Richard BlaikieHere in Aotearoa, we live in a beautiful part of our planet dominated by its largest ocean, with island oases scattered like jewels across its vast breadth.

As such our Moana Oceania is something we need to treasure, explore, value and provide future vision for. Through research we can uncover, discover and rediscover much of the knowledge needed to fulfil our kitiakitanga guardianship responsibilities for the places and people we value in our region.

In this edition of He Kitenga we unashamedly focus on the research Otago leads related to the islands and oceans of the Pacific including, of course, Aotearoa. From the tropics to the sub-Antarctic regions, from the deep geological past of our places to the contemporary challenges we face and, particularly, to the issues affecting our health and well-being.

I encourage you to dip in and out of the stories within to find the gems that will help you understand our efforts as we explore the deep links between research and the outcomes for our people and environments. But as you go, please take some time to dwell on the beautiful images of the researchers whose stories we are telling – look at their faces and the passion and commitment to their work that is evident.

These researchers, the teams they lead and the communities they engage with, are the inspiration to many of us who have service roles and responsibilities in our universities or public sector organisations. We cannot hope to address the issues we face now and in the future – many of which are unknown or unknowable – without empowering them to find the toughest and most challenging topics to work on, and celebrating their achievements when they succeed.

To mark research success, Otago has a range of awards and distinctions that we bestow on our best and brightest. You will see our 2019 Research Award winners acknowledged towards the end of this book. The well-known Māori whakatauki or proverb “kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka” translates that the kūmara doesn’t speak of its own sweetness, so many of our outstanding researchers will often be modest or unassuming about their work – but, with great pride, we are happy to talk of their talent and impact here as we celebrate their achievements.

I trust you will appreciate the significance of the research we have chosen to highlight and that you will share the features with your friends and colleagues. If you wish to find out more, please connect with us though our website at otago.ac.nz or contact us directly – we would love to hear your feedback.

Professor Richard Blaikie
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)