Engaging New Zealand in RNC Challenge research


Dr Mary Anne Thompson

Project Leader

The University of Auckland

The scope of this work included a review of best international practice and current New Zealand science stakeholder/end-user engagement methods. From this, a series of methods and approaches suited to the RNC Challenge was developed. The particular emphasis of this work as reflecting the RNC proposal was the concept of Co-creation.

The 10-year RNC Challenge project aims to bring together researchers and stakeholders of diverse backgrounds to co-create solutions which will help transform New Zealand into a nation which is resilient to natural disasters. This requires an understanding how stakeholder engagement can be exercised in ways that help meet New Zealanders’ expectations and definitions of “co-created” research.

This report presents a review of key literature on stakeholder engagement and transdisciplinary environmental research. It draws on landmark papers from business management, as well as more recent work from fields such as climate science, environmental sustainability, natural resource management, and biosecurity. Definitions and concepts of co-creation are presented, along with best practice guidelines, and critical reflections on how existing conceptual frameworks align with the goals and objectives of the RNC Challenge. Primary social science research was carried out to explore RNC Challenge stakeholder and researcher perspectives on co-created research. An overwhelming majority of surveyed and interviewed participants supported a co-created approach, although they also pointed out that the greatest challenges would resource limitations and overcoming prevailing hierarchical structures.

A key theme arising in this research was the importance of connecting with existing stakeholder networks and activities to maximise impact and participation, and minimise fatigue. A boundary organisation to provide a familiar, open, safe forum for discussion among all stakeholders was also proposed as a mechanism for co-creation. Furthermore, the research also revealed the need to establish a strong partnership with tangata whenua and Māori organisations in the RNC Challenge, and emphasise the importance of respecting and integrating Māori world views throughout the RNC Challenge participants.

A conceptual framework for co-creating research in the RNC Challenge is proposed, which comprises an iterative cycle of co-designing, co-producing, co-disseminating, and co-evaluating research. This framework aims to reflect the best practice literature, as well as the unique perspectives and expectations of RNC stakeholders and researchers. It also provides a mechanism by which ongoing effectiveness of co-creation can be monitored and tuned to improve the RNC Challenge outcomes. A number of additional resources are also identified to provide further guidance on topics such as stakeholder analysis, stakeholder engagement planning and techniques, and special considerations for engaging with tangata whenua and Māori organisations.


The project’s main output is the report:

Co-creating Solutions