He aka ka toro investment fund Call for Proposals

We are inviting proposals for investment in projects that advance iwi, hapū, hapori, and Māori Research, Science and Innovation (RSI) priorities. This will allow for stronger deployment of RSI investment towards communities and rohe/takiwā where Māori knowledge is practiced, and where experts and practitioners are based.

He aka ka toro is the name of this fund and symbolises a commitment from the Crown to invest in growing and building Māori-led Research, Science, and Innovation (RSI). This fund is an incremental action in the pursuit of honouring Te Tiriti in RSI by providing dedicated and effective investment in Māori-led RSI.

He aka ka toro fund prioritises investment in Māori-led RSI, Māori communities, mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori.

This fund will advance iwi, hapū, hapori, and Māori rōpū RSI priorities by growing and building on existing knowledge as well as investing in opportunities for knowledge generation.

The funding available

Funding of up to $4 million (excluding GST) is available each year for projects with a term of between 3 months and 2 years. 

On 31 July 2023 we received applications which, if approved, will mean the $4m (excluding GST) in the 2023 funding round is fully committed.

The categories of funding are:

  • Small grants (up to $50,000 excluding GST per grant, 3 to 12 months in duration) to support getting ‘research-ready’. For example, hui and wānanga to identify information/research needs, receive advice on science techniques and obtain initial consultancy support.
  • Medium grants (up to $100,000 excluding GST per grant, 3 to 12 months in duration) to support small projects involving extensive capability development or a small-scale research project, including the second phase of a small grant project.
  • Large grants (up to $250,000 excluding GST per grant, 1 to 2 years in duration) to support projects that will enable communities or prospective researchers to undertake research and/or translate research into practical actions.  For example, larger projects that include elements of translation of research between Māori communities. 

MBIE expects to fund projects undertaken across Aotearoa New Zealand. Other considerations include:

  • Eligible organisations may have only one active contract for He aka ka toro at any point in time.
  • MBIE reserves the right to decrease or increase the total amount of available funding.

Applications are assessed as we receive them

He aka ka toro fund is not a contestable fund and applications are assessed in the order they are received. Applicants will need to meet the eligibility and assessment criteria outlined below. The Assessment Panel will read all applications and attend an online sharing session with each project lead. The Assessment Panel will base their recommendations for funding on the He aka ka toro proposal and the discussion during the oral presentation. The Assessment Panel will then meet to assess each application and provide their funding recommendations to MBIE. You can submit your application for He aka ka toro fund from Monday, 31 July 2023.  

After the first round, He aka ka toro will open annually in April, with funding decisions made in June, and contracting to start in early July.

How the funding can be used

What is fundable

Māori-led activities that:

  • support Māori to create connections across the RSI ecosystem 
  • enable Māori-led research, including mātauranga Māori and STEM
  • enable Māori-led translation and implementation of research into Māori communities.• fund paid placements and internships
  • create access to researchers and research infrastructure (support people/methodology/equipment/networks)
  • involve activity both within and outside of Aotearoa New Zealand which benefits Māori communities.

Costs associated directly with the science activities; this may include: 

  • personnel
  • personnel-related costs
  • material and consumables directly related to promoting or delivering the services
  • travel directly related to delivering the services
  • operational costs
  • overheads
  • subscriptions necessary for delivery.

What is not fundable

Non fundable activities and expenses include:

  • existing government-funded activities
  • capital expenditure
  • where benefits are solely captured by the applicant – there must be benefits to a collective or community• independent consultancy – there must be capability building and transfer elements for the Māori entity
  • retrospective events and activities
  • business as usual

Who can apply

Applicants must meet all the eligibility criteria below for their proposal to be assessed. Applicants who don’t meet these criteria will be declined funding on eligibility grounds:

  • MBIE can only contract with a legal entity based in New Zealand entity (including sole traders) that is a Māori organisation.
  • A Māori organisation is defined as an organisation that identifies itself as Māori. Such entities may be representative of iwi, hapū, and marae or be other bodies that are not defined by whakapapa.
  • New Zealand Government departments (as defined in Schedule 2 of the Public Service Act 2020) and Crown entities including universities, wānanga and CRIs are not eligible to apply for funding.
  • Wholly owned subsidiaries of Crown entities are not eligible.
  • Your proposal must not benefit a Russian state institution (including but not limited to support for Russian military or security activity) or an organisation outside government that may be perceived as contributing to the war effort.
  • Your proposal must not be for activities already funded by any government agency. 
  • If your organisation has an active contract for He aka ka toro funding at the time of application then you are unable to submit a further funding application until your current contract has finished.   
  • By submitting a proposal, applicants (and their collaborators) are agreeing to the terms and conditions of the Funding Agreement.
  • Applications must be made in our Investment Management Systems (IMS) within the application deadline, and comply with all formatting, content or other administrative requirements set out in the Call for Proposals. Applications not meeting any of these criteria will be declined for funding on eligibility grounds.
  • A Charitable Trust needs to be registered with the Companies Office to be a legal entity. 
  • Māori trusts are eligible. 

Meeting the needs and aspirations of Māori

The He aka ka toro fund is expected to give effect to Vision Mātauranga enabling the Government’s Tiriti obligations in research, science, and innovation.

Vision Mātauranga

Te Ara Paerangi - Future Pathways

Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways signals that a future RSI system gives effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is adaptable by design and connected for impact, and reflects Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique context and diverse population.  

Application process 

1. To submit your proposal you will need to request access to the Investment Management System (IMS) and this can take up to 1 week.

Investment Management System Access Request Form(external link)

2. The proposal template provides guidance on how to prepare your proposal and the information you are required to provide.

3. Once you have an IMS login and you have completed the proposal template, please copy, and paste the content from your proposal template into IMS.

Investment Management System (IMS) Portal

4. MBIE staff will be able to assist you with accessing IMS and providing guidance about how to go about entering content.

5. The information in your proposal is used for assessment and forms the basis of the contract for successful projects. 

6. Proposals submitted in te reo Māori are welcomed. Applicants may provide a translation of their proposal or request that MBIE provide a translation through their own translations service provider. The choice of language will not influence assessment outcomes. Translations provided by the applicant will need to be uploaded into IMS. 

Key dates

Key activity Dates
Information webinar To be announced
Proposal submission period Opens 31 July 2023 and will remain open until the available funding is committed fully. On 31 July 2023 we received applications which, if approved, will mean the $4m (excluding GST) in the 2023 funding round is fully committed.
Assessment Panel briefing 23 August 2023
Proposals assigned to assessors 30 August 2023
Remote assessment recorded in IMS 30 August to 14 September 2023
Assessment Panel Sharing Sessions 9 to 13 October 2023
Applicants advised of the outcome by phone and in writing By 16 November 2023
Decisions on funding announced December 2023
Contracts begin Normally on the first day of the month following the signing of the contract.
He aka ka toro Fund Review 12 December 2023
He aka ka toro fund 2024 By June 2024

Dates are subject to change. We will notify all date changes by email. To be added to the email notification list, email:


Key documents and additional information

Expanding the Impact of Vision Mātauranga – 2023 investment plan — for the fund investment objectives and outcomes

Vision Mätauranga policy [PDF, 359 KB] — outlines the Government’s policy framework that aims to unlock the innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources, and people to assist New Zealanders to create a better future.

Assessment information

The following assessment information and process applies to the He aka ka toro 2023 investment round:

  1. Applicants submit a funding proposal.
  2. MBIE will check all proposals against the eligibility criteria.
  3. All eligible proposals are assessed by the three Assessment Panel members against the assessment criteria and scores and comments entered into IMS.
  4. The Assessment Panel meet with each applicant to hear about and discuss the projects and the applicant has the opportunity ask the Panel questions.
  5. The Assessment Panel meets to reach a consensus about which proposals are fundable and which are not fundable, and to make funding recommendations. The assessment process will inform the Panel report. 
  6. The Panel report will be prepared by the MBIE Investment Manager and given to the Delegated Financial Authority.
  7. All applicants will receive oral notification of the outcome of their proposal followed up with written notification and feedback.
  8. All unsuccessful applicants are invited to reapply in the next funding round. 
  9. Any uncommitted funds will be added to the next available funding round.

Conflicts of interest 

If you identify an actual, potential, or perceived direct or indirect conflict of interest, you must notify us before the application closing date by emailing us with the details for further discussion:


Conflicts of interest may occur on two different levels:

1. A direct conflict of interest, where an Assessor is:

  • directly involved with a proposal (as a participant, manager, mentor, or partner) or has a close personal relationship with the applicant, for example, family members, or
  • a collaborator or in some other way involved with an applicant’s proposal.

2. An indirect conflict of interest, where an Assessor:

  • is employed by an organisation involved in a proposal but is not part of the applicant’s proposal
  • has a personal and/or professional relationship with one of the applicants, for example, an acquaintance
  • is assessing a proposal under discussion that may compete with their business interests.

The conception of a close personal relationship is generally considered in relatively narrow terms, for example, that of a direct relationship (spouse/partner, sibling, dependent). Iwi or hapū affiliation would not normally rise to the standard of a direct conflict of interest unless the nature of other relationships, roles or public statements might give rise to an actual or perceived conflict of interest.

Assessment criteria

The Assessment Panel will assess proposals on each of the criteria below and score them score them from 1 (Unacceptable) 7 (Excellent). 

Excellence Criteria: 50% weighting

Māori-leadership - How will the project be Māori led? 

Project excellence:

  • Small Grants - Will the project develop capacity and capability in the applicant organisation or the people it represents to lead and participate in research, science, and innovation?
  • Medium Grants - Do the aims of the proposed research topic or activity respond to an identified information or research need or capacity and capability gap?
  • Large Grants - Does the proposal describe a specific challenge that the research will seek to address and a well thought out plan to translate those research discoveries into practical actions that will benefit Māori?

Impact Criteria: 50% weighting

Benefits - Will the project result in tangible benefits and results for Māori?

Is the project likely to assist Māori communities to engage with and harness research, science, and innovation and does the proposal show an appropriate scale of impact to the value of the grant sought.

Funding decisions

The Delegated Financial Authority at MBIE reserves the right to accept or decline the funding recommendations presented in the Assessment Panel report.

The decision and recommendations may also:

  • set special conditions in addition to the general terms and conditions set out in the Fund's funding agreement.
  • set precontract conditions.
  • decline to fund any proposals.

We will advise the successful proposal's contact person of the funding decision. The funding decision will be published on MBIE's website and via a press release.

Contracting and payment

Successful applicants will enter into a He aka ka toro funding contract with MBIE. This funding contract is expected to be signed and returned to MBIE within two weeks of receipt. Trusts may need to supply a copy of their Trust Deed.

Below is a guide to how payments will be made:

  • For small grants, full payment on signing the funding agreement.
  • For medium grants, full payment on signing the funding agreement.
  • For large grants, payments will be made 50% on signing, 40% at the midpoint of the contract term and 10% on completion.

Reporting and monitoring

Reporting and monitoring arrangements will involve a final report on completion for all projects, and a midpoint declaration report for projects with a term of 12 months or longer. During the term of all projects MBIE staff will work closely with project leads to provide support.

The midpoint declaration report will include a statement covering the status of the project for example. on-track or off-track; and if there are any emerging risks and what is being done to address them.

Contact details for application queries




0800 693 778 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm)

Last updated: 22 August 2023