Scholarships we currently provide

Motu Research currently provides:

Motu Doctoral Scholarship

The Motu Doctoral Scholarship can be awarded to Motu Research Analysts who have been employed by Motu for at least twelve months and who leave to do a highly rated PhD course. The scholarship is $2000.

The objectives are to:

  • recognise the recipient’s outstanding contribution while employed at Motu
  • encourage the recipient to gain the qualifications needed to become an independent researcher, and thus continue to build New Zealand’s research capacity.
Previous recipients
Shakked Noy (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Livvy Mitchell (Auckland University of Technology)
Dominic White (Auckland University of Technology)
Sophie Hale (University of Canterbury)
Ben Davies (Stanford)
Isabelle Sin (Stanford)
Melanie Morton (Yale)
Andrew Aitken (University College London)
Simon Anastasiadis (Stanford)
Alex Olssen (MIT)
Athene Laws (Cambridge)
Wilbur Townsend (Harvard) 
Sean Hyland (Chicago).

Sir Frank Holmes Prize

The Motu Research and Education Foundation offers a cash prize of $3,500 for the top economics undergraduate student in New Zealand, who is also moving on to honours or masters level studies in economics, including econometrics. The Sir Frank Holmes Prize is funded by the Hugo Group and is awarded every year in October. It is only available by nomination by university heads of department.


The purpose of this prize is to encourage top quantitative economics students to further their studies in econometrics at graduate level.  The prize is not open for applications and is decided through nominations by university lecturers.


Past winners include:

  • 2022 - Jessie Zhang, University of Auckland 
  • 2021 - Justine Lee, University of Canterbury 
  • 2020 - Daniel Watt, University of Canterbury
  • 2019 - Josh McSkimming, University of Canterbury
  • 2018 - Nicolas Adams, University of Canterbury
  • 2017 - Livvy Mitchell, Auckland University of Technology
  • 2016 - Ben Davies, University of Canterbury
  • 2015 - Chris Purdie, University of Otago
  • 2014 - Wilbur Townsend, Victoria University of Wellington
  • 2013 - Athene Laws, Victoria University of Wellington
  • 2012 - Anna Robinson, University of Otago

Āheitanga Thesis Scholarship 

Every year, Motu Research offers a one-year $10,000 scholarship pool to enhance research capacity in Aotearoa’s Māori community. It is offered to university students of Māori descent who are working on (or are planning to work on) an Honours, Masters or PhD thesis.  


Applications for the scholarship are currently CLOSED.


One of Motu Research’s objectives is to build capacity in economic and public policy research in Aotearoa. We aim to improve individuals, groups and institutions' capacity and ability to do empirical and theoretical research on public policy in Aotearoa. We do this through training, collaboration and sponsorship of students or researchers. One of our aims is to make Aotearoa a more attractive location for top researchers, including expatriate New Zealanders, to work.


Through our Āheitanga Thesis scholarship, we hope to help enhance research capacity in Aotearoa’s Māori community and help students of Māori descent research topics relevant to public policy development.


Our preference is the thesis topic is in economics, or some other social science and uses a quantitative methodology.


Based on the applicants, Motu Research decides each year if we award the scholarship pool to one candidate or split it between two candidates.


Some past recipients of the Āheitanga Thesis scholarship include:

  • Mākere Hurst won the 2022 scholarship. Her PhD is in Public Policy through the School of Government at Te Herenga Waka (Victoria University of Wellington). Mākere’s PhD topic is: assessing Māori wellbeing and the relationship between Māori and natural resources, including land, on modern wellbeing outcomes.
  • Taylor Winter (Ngāi Tahu) co-won the 2021 scholarship. A PhD Candidate at the School of Psychology at the Victoria University of Wellington, Taylor has a broad interest in wellbeing. He will use the scholarship to investigate how income may lead to lower levels of happiness than it has historically.
  • Rangimaria Aperahama co-won the 2021 scholarship. She is completing a BA Honours in Economics through Massey University. She will use the scholarship money next year to begin a PhD expand on her current research looking at distribution in the Māori Economy.
  • Correna Matika (Ngāti Kuri and Ngāti Wairere (Tainui) descent) won the 2017 scholarship. She used the scholarship to complete her PhD in psychology at the University of Auckland.
  • In 2016, Hautahi Kingi (Nga Rauru, Te Atihaunui a Paparangi) a PhD candidate in economics at Cornell University in the United States won the scholarship. Mr Kingi has two elements to his research, one around immigration and the other looking into tax and consumption. You can read more about Hautahi here.
  • Lucy Cowie (Ngāti Ranginui), the 2015 recipient, is completing her honours degree in Psychology. Her dissertation focused on the role of Māori identity in predicting the extent to which people endorse environmentalism. Lucy is a research assistant at the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland.
  • Lara Greaves (Ngāti Kurī, Te Āti Awa, Ngāpuhi) during her scholarship year in 2014, Lara’s Masters thesis looked at proposed research on quantitative models of Māori mental, physical and financial health based on identity. She received an A+ for this work, which has now been published. Lara continues to work as the Lab Manager for The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, in the School of Psychology at University of Auckland. She is now a PhD student investigating how different aspects of Māori identity predict voting behaviour.
  • Dr George Gray (Ngaiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui) was already a Doctor when he received the scholarship in 2008. He used the money to complete a Masters in Public Health on the economic evaluation of cardiac rehabilitation in New Zealand at existing and increased attendance rates for Māori and non-Māori.
  • Dale Warburton (Te Āti Awa) was the first scholarship recipient in 2007. He was also an intern at Motu, where he focused on female labour supply in New Zealand. His Masters is in Geography. His thesis at Victoria University was on the effect of unpaid work on employment rates among young Māori and non-Māori females.