In January this year we welcomed our new co-director Daniel Patrick to the team, with a pōwhiri at the Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Tamaki site. Now that he’s had a month to settle into his new Tamaki based role, we sat down to learn more about him. 

Having worked in research management for many years, Daniel’s journey began with an internship as an undergraduate. Working in the experimental pathology lab in the Department of Medicine, Daniel’s work involved looking at peritoneal dialysis, renal failure and touch contamination. From his Master’s thesis, Daniel published research on how residual moisture determines the amount of touch contact associated transmission of communicable diseases. Daniel noted the findings are still or perhaps more relevant now, and the importance of ensuring good hand hygiene, both hand washing and drying adequately to help reduce the risk of disease transmission. 

This led to continued work in communicable diseases, and with focus on application and campaign to ensure the results of his research were applied in various settings, both hygiene sensitive and public settings.  Daniel then moved to health services research as the manager of the national primary medical care survey and New Zealand’s quality of healthcare study, looking at patient visits and engagement with the primary medical care system as well as the occurrence and preventability of injury to patients due to healthcare management.  

Following on, Daniel co-founded and developed different research institutions, including the Centre of Methods and Policy Applications in the Social Sciences (COMPASS), the New Zealand Social Statistics Network (NZSSN), the New Zealand Social Science Data Service and Survey Research Unit. 

But with all that, Daniel reflects and places great value on the role that internships played for him, and others, in providing opportunities to learn practical skills, gain insight into what it is to be a researcher, and the feel of the job. While Daniel’s training and career beginnings may at first seem like a far cry from the mahi being done within the challenge, he brings with him over 20 years of research and leadership experience. With diverse experience in research methods and research to outcomes, the transdisciplinary experience will serve him well in his new role. 

Before joining the challenge, Daniel spent the last 13 years at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence, the last 9 years as the Executive Director.

“I learnt a huge amount and was greatly privileged to be engaged in te ao Māori, immersed in te ao Māori and Māori research.”

When looking for a new role, Daniel realised how values-based he is, and where and what he wanted to focus his energies on was creating good. Daniel was attracted to the role of co-director as he was looking for a new challenge, one that was of national significance and could use his skillset to make a positive change to our country and people.  

“Our biological heritage is immensely important, important to our uniqueness, to the people, Māori, our ways of life and culture, as well as the economy. I was impressed by what had been done to date in the Challenge but knew there is a lot more to do. How the Challenge operates, approaches problems and the solutions, the values, transdisciplinary teams and research, co-design, Titiri partnership and clear inclusion and recognition of te ao Māori, mātauranga Māori, with co-governance, co-leads and communities is excellent. It’s been well founded, well set up – and is a good kaupapa, an important mission, and one that I was very pleased to be able join, contribute to and lead.” 

Daniel’s experience in leading a transdisciplinary approach to research will be of great value to the challenge, with a focus on fostering and engaging from communities to industries and government and multi -institutional and -sector teams.  He expects to support and lead the challenge to achieve its goals and outcomes, creating new models and approaches to address critical national problems with innovative strategies and pathways. 

“For the last decade I’ve been saying ‘focus on the kaupapa’. It’s about the kaupapa, it’s about the mission, it’s about the drive, it’s about people, it’s about our environment. That’s what we’re going to get out of it, change for good, positive impact.” 

In his spare time, Daniel enjoys spending time outdoors with his large extended whānau, going fishing, camping and skiing. He’s also a big rugby fan, having coached and supported for many years at the Northcote Birkenhead Rugby Club and now the college. Daniel is motivated to co-lead the Challenge to help reverse the decline of Aotearoa’s biological heritage and create change through innovative approaches, as he knows how important our biological heritage is, and appreciates the value from a recreational, cultural and economic perspective. He hopes to make a difference to a critical issue, acknowledging how fortunate we are to enjoy Aotearoa’s unique environment. 

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