Future systems thinking research

This research cluster explores systems thinking informed by old and new holistic models, ranging from an indigenous relational lens to contemporary systems discourses.

Our research addresses theories of, and practices for, future-oriented, complex and relational systems. We’re thinking about infrastructures, circularity, organisations, logistics, biodiversity, dataflows, ecologies: adaptivity, frameworks, network scapes and emergence.

How can systems thinking be useful at this time? This approach can help to us to understand how complex, emergent, and responsive networks that may be environmental, social, cultural, technological and/or economic came to be and may become in the future.  More urgently, systems thinking can help us to perceive, design and emplace socio-cultural change, so urgently needed at this time of ecological crisis and opportunity.

Current research projects include:

  • Huritanga: Towards Socio-Ecological Wellbeing-led Urban Systems in an Era of Emergency
  • Foodscapes: Mapping Food Networks in Urban Systems
  • Platypus Surfing: Enrichment for Endangered Captive Species
  • Observation, Evaluation and Enrichment of Wellbeing and Social Dynamics for Animals in Captive Environments
  • Endangered Marine Bird Populations of Aotearoa: Technology and Care Intervention Systems

Prior successful funding includes:

  • $20,000 from Sequal Lumber for Urban Equilibrium
  • $3.7 million from National Science Challenge, Building Better Homes Towns and Cities. Tranche 2. Urban Wellbeing Programme
  • $88,739 research funding from National Science Challenge, Building Better Homes Towns and Cities. Mauri Ora and Urban Wellbeing – applied research for urban transformation
  • NZD $5.7 million from the 2013-2016 European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) grant agree No. 601139 (CultAR): Culturally Enhanced Augmented Reality (ICT). Principal investigator: Ann Morrison
  • NZD $4,550 2010-2011 Det Obelske Familiefond, Grant for setting up Urban Vibrations Lab at Aalborg University. Principal investigator: Ann Morrison
  • NZD $174,000 from 2009-2010 European Union Seventh Framework Program FP7-PEOPLE-IRSES-2008 - Marie Curie Action, Marie Curie Fellow, "International Research Staff Exchange Scheme" for MARCUS: Mobile Augmented Reality and Context in Urban Settings.
  • NZD $9.2 million from 2008-2010 European Union Sixth Framework Program: (IPCity): Integrated Project on Mixed Reality Interaction and Presence in Urban Environments. Principal investigator: Ann Morrison
  • AUD $200,000 Project Grant, Urban Construction Project, Performing Arts Board, Australia Council for the Arts. Co-lead Ann Morrison, Andrew Charker & 25 industry sponsors (1990)
  • Andolina S, Hsieh Y-T, Kalkofen D, Nurminen A, Cabral D, Spagnolli A, Gamberini L, Morrison A, Schmalstieg D, Jacucci G. (2021) Designing for Mixed Reality Urban Exploration Interaction Design & Architecture(s) (IxD&A) 15 Feb 2021 (Journal Article)
  • Turner J, Morrison A. (2021) Designing Slow Cities for More Than Human Enrichment: Dog Tales—Using Narrative Methods to Understand Co-Performative Place-Making Multimodal Technologies and Interaction 5(1):1-1 (Journal Article)
  • Aigwi, I. E., Ingham, J., Phipps, R., & Filippova, O. (2020). Identifying parameters for a performance-based framework: Towards prioritising underutilised historical buildings for adaptive reuse in New Zealand. Cities, 102, 102756. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2020.102756
  • Joseph, F., & Nautiyal, M. (2020). Discerning the emergent New Zealand wool innovation ecosystem. In S. Collie, K. Mitchell, & S. McNeil (Eds.), International Virtu-Wool Research Conference (pp. 141-160). Online.
  • Morrison A, Larsen H, Fieldus C, Kist A, Maiti A. (2020) Platypus surfing: In search of the perfect wave Seventh International Conference on Animal-Computer Interaction, Milton Keynes, 10 Nov 2020 - 12 Nov 2020. ACM (2019
  • Purushothaman, M, Seadon, J, Moore, D (2020). “Waste reduction using lean tools in a multicultural environment”. Journal of Cleaner Production,
  • Smitheram, M., & Joseph, F. (2020). Material-aesthetic collaborations: making-with the ecosystem. CoDesign, 1-18. doi:10.1080/15710882.2020.1841796
  • Yates, A. Lenihan, T. (2020) Back to the Future: Whanake mai te mauri ora – Towards a Sustainable Development & Mauritanga System for Socio-Cultural-Ecological Wellbeing. Commissioned Report for New Zealand Ministry of Environment. (Recommendations for the Comprehensive Resource Management System Review).
  • Yates. A. (2020). Urban Manaakitanga as Counter-Colonial Tactic. In R. Kiddle & K. O’Birne (Eds.), Our Voices II: The DE-Colonial Project. New York: Oro Editions.Seadon, J and Giacovelli, C. (2019). “Small Island Developing States Waste Management Outlook”. United Nations Environment Programme International Environmental Technology Centre, Osaka, Japan. Available from
  • Aigwi, I. E., Egbelakin, T., Ingham, J., Phipps, R., Rotimi, J., & Filippova, O. (2019). A performance-based framework to prioritise underutilised historical buildings for adaptive reuse interventions in New Zealand. Sustainable Cities and Society, 48, 101547. doi:
  • Yates, A., Nirmal, N., Renwick, J. (2019). Whanake mai te ara hiko: Think piece - wellbeing-led, home-based energy infrastructures & low-emissions transport.  Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, NZ: National Science Challenge 11: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities.
  • Yates, A. (2019). Whanake Mai Te Mauri-Ora: Think piece – An Expanded Wellbeing Framework and Urban Science Data Tool For Integrated Wellbeing Governance. Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, NZ: National Science Challenge 11: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities.
  • Aigwi, I. E., Egbelakin, T., & Ingham, J. (2018). Efficacy of adaptive reuse for the redevelopment of underutilised historical buildings: Towards the regeneration of New Zealand’s provincial town centres. International journal of building pathology and adaptation, 36(4), 385-407.
  • Yates, A. (2018). Mauri-ora: Architecture, indigeneity and immanence ethics In A. Jasper (Ed.), Architecture and Anthropology. London: Routledge.
  • Modak, P, Pariatamby, P and Seadon, J. (2017). “Asia Waste Management Outlook”. United Nations Environment Programme International Environmental Technology Centre, Osaka, Japan. Available from
  • Randerson J. & Yates, A. (2017). Negotiating the ontological gap:  Place, performance and media art practices in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In J. Adamson & S. Monani (Eds.),  From Earth to Cosmos: Indigenous eco-perspectives of resistance, resilience, and multi-species relations. London: Routledge.
  • Stocchero, A, Seadon, J K., Falshaw, R, Edwards, M. (2017) “Urban Equilibrium for sustainable cities and the contribution of timber buildings to balance urban carbon emissions: A New Zealand case study”. Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 143, pp. 1001-10
  • Seadon JK (2010) “Sustainable Waste Management Systems”. Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 18, no.16-17, pp. 1639-51
  • Seadon JK (2006) “Integrated Waste Management – Looking Beyond the Solid Waste Horizon”. Waste Management, vol. 26, no.12, pp. 1327-36

Researchers involved

"As a country we need transformational and lasting change to meet our targets and ensure a thriving Aotearoa for future generations."
Rod Carr, Climate Change Commission (2021)
“Mātauranga Māori view is more holistic, and uses systems thinking and ... expertise to build a much more complete picture on a scientific challenge. In contrast, reducing the boundaries of research to the level of the institution, resource (e.g. moana), or discipline (e.g. ocean science) – rather than to the kaupapa (research purpose) - sets up an intentional blindness that can create major oversights when transitioning to a real world application.”
Rauika Māngai. (2020). A Guide to Vision Mātauranga: Lessons from Māori Voices in the New Zealand Science Sector. Wellington, NZ: Rauika Māngai

Contact us

Dr Andrew Burgess

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