our research

Ngā Ara Whetū Innovation Scholar

Dr Jagdeep Singh-Ladhar was appointed in June 2024 as the inaugural Ngā Ara Whetū Innovation Scholar. This newly established role is designed to support emerging leaders at the early stages of their careers and to foster their engagement with Ngā Ara Whetū. The position is a collaborative initiative between Ngā Ara Whetū and the Faculty of Business and Economics, one of the Centre’s co-hosting faculties.


Dr Singh-Ladhar is a lecturer in the Department of Commercial Law, where she lectures in commercial law and taxation. Her research interests are deeply rooted in sustainability, as evidenced by her PhD work on water allocation. Recently, she authored a book, that examines water allocation law and policy in New Zealand, drawing comparisons with Australia.


In addition to her academic achievements, Dr Singh-Ladhar has gained valuable experience working with the Ministry for the Environment on recent reforms to the Resource Management Act. This experience has provided her with practical insights into how research can inform policy development. She is particularly passionate about ensuring that research ideas and outcomes are effectively communicated back to the community to maximise their impact.


We look forward to Dr Singh-Ladhar’s valuable contributions to Ngā Ara Whetū, especially in the areas of policy impact and research communication. 

Research initiatives 2024

1. Future Cities – Urban Industry Zones

Led by Paola Boarin and Jacqueline Beggs

Urbanization and human-induced climate change impacts are already visible on Aotearoa New Zealand’s ecosystems and society. We are seeing loss of biodiversity, vulnerability of buildings and infrastructures to extreme weather, and a toll on the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Our focus is on urban industry zones intertwined with terrestrial, marine and freshwater habitats. Urban industrial developments are also often located in close proximity to housing occupied by vulnerable communities, and are subject to pressures from complex urban, infrastructural and economic development priorities.

Our approach is to use regenerative sustainability principles and system-thinking to radically transform urban industrial zones in Aotearoa. This will enable built, ecological and social systems to withstand climate change and urban related pressures while reverting environmental damages, reducing future risks to people, property and natural environments, and limiting the impacts on the economy.


2. Communicating Complex Science

Led by Maria Armoudian and Neil Curtis 

  • Develop novel ways of communicating the interconnection of sustainability in the environment and human health. This includes four-panel comic strips on microplastics and other environmental issues.
  • Research on countering, pre-bunking and debunking science disinformation and misinformation and ways to inoculate publics.

3. Plastic Pollution

Plastics are everywhere—on land, in the sea, in the air and in our bodies. What are the effects of this ubiquitous substance on our own health and the health of the animals and ecosystems? A transdisciplinary research team which includes chemistry, marine science, biology, oncology, sociology and politics has formed to initiate research on this ambitious question.

Circular Innovations (CIRCUIT)

Using a holistic approach, the Circular Innovations (CIRCUIT) Centre focuses on converting the current linear economy, with its waste surplus and resource limitations, into a sustainable circular economy. CIRCUIT has assembled an experienced team with multi-disciplinary expertise who will work with industry stakeholders and communities to address the issues, and find the best solutions to transition Aotearoa into a low-carbon circular economy for long-term economic prosperity. CIRCUIT looks at all aspects of the circular economy transition: education, discovery, applied solutions, and social & economic aspects.

Leader: Saeid Baroutian 

Associated Ngā Ara Whetū director: Saeid Baroutian


This hub explores how to transform to fair and just sustainable futures for all by exploring the behaviours, values, practices, and education that can maintain and strengthen our planet’s life-support systems. Research encourages exploration at the knowledge-action interface; novel theories, methods and philosophical perspectives that nurture social-ecological systems and systems-wide cascading change. 

Leader: Sally Birdsall 

Associated Ngā Ara Whetū directors: Niki Harre, Maria Amoudian 

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Contact us


Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland

Auckland 1010, Aotearoa New Zealand

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