Ko Te Niwha


Ensuring Aotearoa New Zealand has world class capabilities in the fight against infectious diseases.

Te Niwha About Te Niwha

Developing Te Niwha

Te Niwha is the response to the Strategic Science Investment Funding Programmes (SSIF) call to develop an Infectious Diseases Research Platform with following aims: 

  • Build and coordinate domestic research capability in infectious diseases.
  • Continue to address COVID-19 and other serious infectious diseases in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
  • Improve preparedness for future pandemics.
  • Support Aotearoa, New Zealand's Health Research Strategy and infectious diseases of key stakeholders and Māori as Treaty partners.
  • Link with international research.

The Platform will ensure New Zealand has world class research capability acting together to maintain our preparedness for future infectious disease outbreaks.  

The Platform will help fulfil the Government’s Treaty of Waitangi/Tiriti o Waitangi (Tiriti) obligations, and address health inequities.

The research will be multidisciplinary, collaborative, and world-class.


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When considering who would host the Infectious Diseases Research Platform, a hui was held between all stakeholders (Tertiary Providers & Research Institutions).  By consensus it was agreed that way forward was a Co-Hosted arrangement with Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and the University of Otago.

ESR, is the contracting Co-Host for Te Niwha and in turn lends its infrastructure to Te Niwha to enable the research and people leadership contracting. 

The University of Otago lends its infrastructure to support the operationalisation of research engagement, community and cultural partnerships.

Both organisations are lead sponsors for Te Niwha.

ESR lead sponsors are:  

  • Mr Jymal Morgan (General Manager, Maori Impact)
  • Mrs Natalie Lombe (General Manager, People & Culture)
  • Dr Phillip Carter (Acting Chief Science Advisor) 

The University of Otago lead sponsor is:

  • Professor Richard Blaikie (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise)

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Te Whakakitenga Vision

Te Niwha has a strong Vision to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand's response to current, ongoing and emerging infectious disease threats is characterised domestically and internationally as strong, prepared and unified. 

Te Niwha

Te Ahunga Mission

To fulfil our Vision, our Mission is to ensure that Aotearoa, New Zealand has world-class research capability for emerging threats and current infectious diseases challenges and pandemic preparedness.

Te Niwha
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Te Kawenata O Te Niwha Charter

Te Kawenata o Te Niwha, the Te Niwha Charter establishes the principles for which Te Niwha and our research partners (and all activities thereof) will proactively deliver across the strategic intentions, implementation and outcomes.

Te Ingoa o Te Niwha Name origins and meaning

Our name

Te Niwha engaged with Rahui Papa to seek guidance for an appropriate name for our Platform that encapsulated our intent, our current environment of pandemic and our history.

We were gifted with, Te Niwha. 

Te Niwha encompasses our vision, mission, values, what we must collectively achieve to ensure that Aotearoa, New Zealand is prepared and able to respond to emerging infectious disease threats.


In the tongi of King Taawhiao he said in response to pandemics and challenges of his time:  

"Kia niwha te ngaakau ki te whakauu i ngaa mahi atawhai. Be brave and immovable to do the best for the people."

Te Niwha

Te tohu o Te Niwha Our Tohu



Our tohu (symbol) has been designed by Tuukaroto Mahuta – an independent graphic designer from Ngaati Mahuta, Waikato. The concept of the Te Niwha tohu is expressed visually in the form of a Ngira which was influenced by the renowned whakatauki of Kiingi Pootatau Te Wherowhero.  

“Kotahi te koowhao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro maa, te miro pango, te miro whero”.

There is but one eye of the needle, through which white, black and red threads must pass.

This whakatauki symbolises the Mission of Te Niwha; to build world-class research capability for Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to current, ongoing and emerging infectious disease threats and pandemic preparedness.

The design concept of the Ngira occurs across three distinct areas.  

At the top there is a manaia which symbolises kaitiakitanga. Through the middle sit the raarangi haehae/guidelines. They symbolise the threads which eventually connect. The Niwha/notches replicate a rakau whakapapa/genealogy staff.    

The concept of the Ngira is the cure for infectious diseases. The concept of the needle is to thread and bind people together under the whakaaro of kotahitanga.