Campaign Countdown

We're counting down to the end of the For All Our Futures Campaign by publishing 100 impacts and facts over 100 days

69 days to go

Professor Rob Doughty, inaugural Heart Foundation Chair of Heart Health

$14.9m donated by the Heart Foundation over 22 consecutive years of giving

Over many years, and with many millions of dollars, the Heart Foundation has supported ground--breaking research projects to combat heart disease, which is still this country’s biggest killer.  They’ve funded senior research fellowships, established a Heart Foundation Chair in Heart Health and much more.

70 days to go

120 engineering students participated in the Dean's Leadership Programme

The Dean's Leadership Programme was established with the support of our generous donors in 2016. 2019 will see the fourth cohort of students partcipate in the programme. The DLP is designed to develop highly talented engineering students with the personal capacity to change New Zealand and the world for the better.

71 days to go

1 specialist cancer clinical trials unit established

An anonymous $1.4 million donation helped establish the Auckland Cancer Trials Centre, a joint initiative between the University of Auckland and the Auckland District Health Board.

ACTC medical director Dr Sanjeev Deva said, "With this grant we’ve taken the first steps to a system where access to trials is standard, where we can offer patients access to novel medicines to achieve better cancer outcomes. The trials not only come from pharmaceutical companies, but we intend on developing trials from the University’s research."

72 days to go

526 alumni have shared their expertise with students as guest speakers and lecturers

Experts from all fields of study and drawing from a broad range of life experiences have inspired fellow alumni at public lectures and events.

73 days to go

Scenes from 37 Operas performed

One of the year’s musical highlights, Opera Scenes, prevails in its capacity to captivate and delight audiences. A vocal feast previewing the future of New Zealand opera, it showcases resounding performances from the School’s talented voice students.

Opera Scenes is the culmination performance of The Wallace Opera Training Programme, made possible by generous support from The Wallace Foundation. The cast consists of undergraduate and postgraduate voice performance students, coached and led by the School of Music’s accomplished academic and performance staff.

74 days to go

100 specialist teachers funded to end STEM skills shortages

In science only 20% of Year 8 students perform at curriculum expectations for their year level and in maths in Year 8 only 41%. The Woolf Fisher Trust funds primary teachers in the Faculty of Education to specialise in maths and science teaching, funding 100 specialists by 2022.

At the centre of the programme is a highly skilled and knowledgeable practitioner and researcher who mentors the scholarship recipients while they teach in classrooms, increasing effectiveness and motivation. The programme helps teachers hone their teaching skills and allows them to explore how young students learn scientific and mathematical concepts.

75 days to go

309 confidences boosted through the Workplace Insights Programme

309 international students have had their confidence boosted through connecting with 105 alumni on the Workplace Insights Programme (WPI). WPI is a biannual programme that was established in 2016 in order to build the self-confidence of international students and help them discover the expectations of the New Zealand workplace.

76 days to go

Professor Joseph Bulbulia in the Maclaurin Chapel

3 new academic positions established in the Faculty of Arts

Thanks to philanthropic funding, the David and Corina Silich Lectureship in Museums and Cultural Heritage, the Marti Friedlander Lectureship in Photographic Practices and History and the Maclaurin Goodfellow Chair in Theological and Religious Studies have been established.

77 days to go

9 new scholarships provided to students from refugee backgrounds

2017 Young New Zealander of the Year Rez Gardi is one such student for whom scholarship support has made an immeasurable difference to her studies in Law and Arts. Rez was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan and moved to New Zealand when she was six years old.  Rez helped establish the new refugee scholarship fund.

78 days to go

Georgie Stone, our Volunteer Alumni Coordinator in Béziers, France.
Georgie Stone, our Volunteer Alumni Coordinator in Béziers, France.

761 exchange students introduced to alumni volunteers in key cities around the world

The Alumni Relations team sends personalised emails to outbound 360 degree exchange students twice a year, linking them up to Volunteer Alumni Coordinators and networks in their destination cities and inviting them to alumni events happening there. The students are sometimes hosted by the VAC for a get-together at a local cafe, or even at their workplace - and they're invited to all our events in their area.

79 days to go

700 jobs have been created through the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship programmes

The Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was born of a big idea: to transform the mindsets of our students and staff to support the growth of New Zealand as a prosperous and creative nation.

80 days to go

1 revolutionary method for growing human skin discovered

Professor Rod Dunbar's team from the University of Auckland has discovered a technique for growing full-thickness human skin in the lab. Using skin tissue obtained from patients undergoing elective surgeries, they’ve managed to use these cells to grow the human skin in the lab.  Amazingly, it takes just 16 days to grow enough skin to cover a human body.

This has great potential to be transformative for the practice of treating burns. Children and adults alike would no longer be subjected to painful and invasive skin grafts and obtaining healthy skin from unburnt parts of the body would no longer be an issue. While not yet available for human use, the research team are aiming to start the first human trials in 2022.

81 days to go

7 letters lasered onto the width of a human hair

Researchers at the Photon Factory used the latest generation of laser to engrave the word “amazing” on a single hair. These lasers go faster than anything else – faster than a nano second, faster than light. The potential applications are massive and wide ranging  ̶  from advancing micro-surgery techniques to improving artificial insemination in pigs.

82 days to go

L’Rey Karaitiana, engineering student and recipient of philanthropic support

5,742 supporters donated to the annual appeal

By responding to appeals throughout the campaign like-minded supporters have come together to be a powerful instrument for positive change. Donations large and small create sustainable support that helps students reach their potential, researchers find answers, and the University’s contributions to New Zealand flourish.
At the University of Auckland we are determined that our doors are open to all those who are dedicated to academic excellence and donations like this are helping make this possible. By supporting talent early in students’ careers this helps ensure that those who have the potential to make a major contribution to our businesses, organisations and communities are given the opportunity to thrive.
Read about the life-changing difference financial assistance has made to Engineering student L’Rey Karaitiana.

83 days to go

$5,259,659 given by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation since 2012 to fight cancer

Since 2012, the Auckland Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) has given 50 grants to fund cancer research - a massive $5,259,659.  The revolution in cancer research over the last decade is explored in a recent Ingenio feature.

84 days to go

15,500+ students' learning accelerated in Manaiakalani schools

Over 15,500 students in Manaiakalani schools have on average experienced a substantial acceleration in learning, especially writing, when tracked over time by Faculty of Education and Social Work researchers.

The team of educational researchers are continuing to partner with the Manaiakalani education programme in primary schools in low income communities.  The Manaiakalani approach uses connected, ubiquitous and visible teaching approaches to empower learners.

Strongest improvement in learning outcomes is supported by effective use of the Manaiakalani learning principles (learn, create, share), and high levels of parental and student engagement.

85 days to go

Photo credit: Shaun Lee,

2,400,000 million litres of seawater in the Hauraki Gulf filtered every day

Jenny Hillman and her team are making incredible discoveries about the detoxification power of mussels.  These common shellfish filter out a huge amount of dangerous nitrogen, effectively making our seawater cleaner. A single mussel filters 65 litres of seawater a day.

As part of the project, 147 tonnes of adult mussels have been deployed in the Gulf since 2013.  That’s about 8.2 million individual mussels and is enough to evenly cover 15km2, or 12 Olympic sized swimming pools. This in turn is enough mussels to filter the water in 984 Olympic sized swimming pools - or approx. 2.4 million litres of seawater – every single day.

Through her work, Jenny is providing practical scientific research to enhance shellfish restoration success as well as understanding more about the full benefits of restoration.

86 days to go

Experts in Indigenous peoples’ access to justice gather at Waipapa Marae

3 new legal research centres established

The Information and Communications Technology Law Centre (ICT Centre), The Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law and the New Zealand Centre for Legal Theory are now established in the Auckland Law School.

87 days to go

800 fungi investigated in the fight against superbugs

Antibiotics aren’t just used to treat infectious diseases, but to prevent infections in patients having surgery and chemotherapy. The Director General of the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan has called antibiotic resistance “...the end of modern medicine as we know it”. The world desperately needs new antibiotics, and the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab is working hard to find them.

Most antibiotics come from microbes living in the soil, beginning with the discovery of penicillin from the fungus Penicillium. New Zealand has a treasure trove of unique fungi that have never been searched for new antibiotics.  Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles and her team are working hard to investigate them and thanks in part to the generosity of our donors have assessed over 800 to date.

88 days to go

4 promising biomarkers for rheumatic fever identified

Tragically, there are 160 deaths attributed to rheumatic heart disease every year in New Zealand, despite this being entirely preventable with appropriate care and treatment. With support from Cure Kids, Dr Nikki Moreland and her team from the University of Auckland are investigating antibody-based biomarkers to improve the diagnosis of rheumatic fever, which leads to rheumatic heart disease. Their research involves complex approaches to comparing the antibodies of children with rheumatic fever to the antibodies of children without rheumatic fever.

Four promising biomarkers have been identified and are undergoing further testing in large numbers of samples to see if the biomarkers are accurate indicators of rheumatic fever. If one (or more) of these biomarkers are validated through this process, it would represent a significant discovery in the fight against rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease  in New Zealand and worldwide.

89 days to go

Dr Sophia Powers

2 new courses in photography established  

Thanks to the Gerrard and Marti Friedlander Trust for philanthropically funding the newly established Marti Friedlander Lectureship in Photographic Practices and History. Stanford and Columbia Universities academic, Dr Sophia Powers, holds the inaugural Marti Friedlander Lectureship.

90 days to go

937 study participants helping us to answer 'Can we ensure older people have independent, active and fulfilling lives?'

Professor Ngaire Kerse co leads a longitudinal study of Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders, with Dr Marama Muru-Lanning.  Entitled 'Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study (LiLACS NZ) - Te Puāwaitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu' -the LiLACS initiative is a partnership between Māori and non-Māori to engage 421 Māori born in 1920-1930 and 516 non-Māori born in 1925 in a cohort study aiming to identify predictors of successful advanced ageing.

New findings from the study paint a stark picture of loneliness in old age.   Forty percent of Māori and 28 percent of non-Māori participants reported feeling lonely always, often or sometimes. For widowed people, the figures were 46 percent (Māori) and 42 percent (non-Māori). Retirees were significantly more likely to report loneliness for Māori but not non-Māori. One in 20 participants overall reported feeling lonely always or often (5.1 percent of Māori, 5.5 percent of non-Māori).

Professor Kerse: “That’s an important five percent. Loneliness is associated with poor mental and physical health, lower quality of life, cognitive decline and even dying sooner. And it’s a problem we can do something about, as individuals and as a society.”  

91 days to go

Michael J Fox, image copyright The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

$613,700 granted by the Michael J Fox Foundation in the fight against Parkinson's

The Michael J Fox Foundation, founded by the Canadian actor and writer, is the world’s largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research, and is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition.  Recognising the amazing work undertaken at the University's Centre for Brain Research, the Foundation has granted a total of $613,700 in the fight against Parkinson's.

The total includes a recent grant of nearly quarter-of-a-million dollars, made in July 2019, to enable the research team at the University to ramp up their hunt for new drugs to potentially slow down Parkinson's.

“Current treatments only alleviate symptoms but do not target the actual cause,” says Dr Victor Dieriks, co-lead of the research team.

“What we are seeking is treatments that would delay or even prevent degeneration by targeting the earliest disease processes. One of these early processes is inflammation of brain cells, called ‘neuroinflammation’, and that’s what we are focusing on.”

92 days to go

A huge thank you to the 120,623 alumni who got involved

A huge thank you to the overwhelming number of alumni who took the time to volunteer, come along to one of our events, make a gift, connect with us, engage with our newsletters and publications and talk to our student callers.  Your support is inspiring.

93 days to go

Just 2 millimetres of brain tissue provides a wealth of information for our researchers fighting Alzheimer's Disease

Dr  Malvindar Singh-Bains is using a unique method to study human brain tissue from Alzheimer’s Disease donor brains and it only requires a 2 millimetre sample! A fellowship supported by the Freemasons Foundation is funding Dr Singh-Bains to assess disease indicators and potential drug targets for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease before all the neurons (main brain cells) have died.  She is using a technique, called the tissue microarray, to systematically arrange 2 millimetre pieces of brain tissue into a very compact area.  Using this approach, Malvindar has scanned the human cerebellum and found interesting and novel changes occurring in Alzheimer’s Disease.  

Malvindar has identified key alterations in blood vessels and immune cells and in the human cerebellum in Alzheimer’s disease.

94 days to go

18,000 obsidian artefacts from Ahuahu sourced and analysed

Sir Michael Fay's philanthropic support assists archaeology academic, Professor Simon Holdaway, and his team to carry out digs on Great Mercury Island/Ahuahu every year. As part of their work, over 18,000 obsidian artefacts have been uncovered and analysed, representing the largest such analysis in the Pacific. Sir Roderick and Lady Gillian Deane established the Natalie Blair Summer Scholarships for 2 students who source, analyse and record  artefacts from Ahuahu.  

In addition, over one billion data points have been generated so far from the Ahuahu project.  Findings include strong evidence for early and continuing Māori human-environment interaction.

95 days to go

12 seniors with Alzheimer’s invited to dance

Most people imagine tutus and entertainment when they think about dance. Yet research at the University of Auckland is exploring another vision for dance, a vision that examines how dance can help people with dementia, perhaps even delaying onset or slowing its progression.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, in one study 12 postgraduate students led weekly dance sessions attended by 12 adults, aged between 51 and 70. Each session involved teacher-led stretching exercises, partner work, improvisation and group dancing. Following the project, anecdotal evidence indicated that the participants with dementia were happier and coping better when interacting with others.

“If, through research, we could learn how to employ this and other types of arts activity to help in slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by two or even five years, this would decrease the prevalence by 20 or 50 percent, respectively,” says Centre for Brain Research Director Professor Richard Faull. “A greater proportion of the elderly would live a longer life, free of the tragic consequences of these diseases.”

96 days to go

3d printed image of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, credit NIAID

2 novel, safer treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis developed

In a collaboration with the Global Alliance for Tuberculosis in New York, researchers at the University of Auckland have developed two new drugs which have just begun clinical trials in patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a re-emergent disease, with 10 million new cases (580,000 of which were drug-resistant) and 1.6 million deaths worldwide in 2018.

97 days to go

Unleash Space is a new, vibrant, student-led innovation and entrepreneurship hub with a state-of-the-art maker space.

98 days to go

600 students participated in the Formula SAE programme

This philanthropically funded programme sees students design, manufacture and compete a racing car. It provides an incredible opportunity for the student to apply what they have learnt in the lecture theatre and prepare them for their future careers.

We've averaged about 40 students taking part per year - so that's around 600 students in the 15 years that the programme has been running.

99 days to go

200 pages and 30 manuscripts of James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks letters transcribed

The Auckland Public Library is holder of manuscripts, letters and notes of correspondence between Sir Joseph Banks and Captain James Cook.  With the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing in New Zealand in 2019, the Auckland Library Heritage Trust approached the University’s History experts seeking help to get the material transcribed and made accessible to the wider library readership.

Auckland Library Heritage Trust established a summer scholarship for postgraduate History student Jake Bransgrove to research and transcribe the documents.

100 days to go

500 alumni made a difference to their community during Volunteer Impact Week

The University of Auckland Volunteer Impact Week (VIW) was held from 16-22 June with over 500 University graduates, students and staff taking part in over 30 projects by giving at least one hour of their time to a local cause. VIW supports the University’s For All Our Futures alumni engagement challenge, “Can we increase the contribution our community makes to the world?”, and builds on the collaboration with Volunteering New Zealand’s National Volunteer Week.

The week included local efforts in New Zealand such as helping homeless families, working to restore the natural environment, as well as assisting a hospice organization get donated goods to those in need. Internationally, groups of alumni and friends came together to help clean up a local school in the Philippines, build trails in Vancouver, and work with refugee students in Malaysia.