Our Purpose
Where to Find Us
PGSA Executive
History of the PGSA
PGSA Life Members
Photo Gallery
Friends of the PGSA
Official Documents

Our Purpose

The PGSA is the representative organisation for postgraduates at VUW. We exist solely to ensure you have the best possible academic experience. So, how do we do this? Simple! We cultivate:

  • Community
  • Excellence
  • Representation

We love to talk; even better: we love to listen so get in touch!

Who are We?
The Association is run by up to 12 postgraduate students who work voluntarily on your behalf. Our Executive Assistant, Fran Denton,  is likely to be your first point of contact.

We actively work with the University to ensure the unique concerns of postgraduates are included in University policies.  An important aspect of this work is the Minimum Resources Agreement, which specifies the minimum resources all research students are entitled to.

We promote excellence through:

  • opportunities for personal growth in leadership
  • opportunities for academic growth in workshops, forums and  informal discussion
  • recognition of success  in:
    3 Minute Thesis Competition
    Research Excellence Awards
    Victorias Awards
    Academic Conference Grants

We  focus on creating a thriving, university-wide postgraduate community. Are you looking  to:

  • network with fellow postgrads (outside of your office)?
  • attend social events (our annual quiz night, Tuesday Chats Pipitea, First Fridays Breakfasts)?
  • escape your office/lab/dungeon?

Then we are here for you! If at any time you have queries, problems, or grievances come and chat to us. We can provide guidance and assure to respect your confidentiality.


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Where to find us

PGSA Office:  Room 211, Level 2, Student Union Building, Gate 1, Kelburn Parade
Postal Address:  Victoria University, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140
Tel:  +64 4 463 6973

You can also join in the conversation on facebook and Twitter (@pgsavuw)

Postgrad Computer Suite

The PGSA has a computer suite reserved solely for postgrads located in the PGSA office (room 211), Student Union Building – now with swipe access (using student ID cards)!  There are four computers available (one staff & three student domain) also a student printer. The kitchen facilities include a fridge, microwave, tea/coffee. There is also a large desk space and lounge area to use for meetings, study or just to read and relax.

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PGSA Executive Members

Jordan Anderson
Josh Brian
Taylor Cooney
Alyssa Ryan
Priyanka Roy
Kris Santoso
Schyana Sivanantham
Jasmine Chan-Hyams
Will Abbiss
Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau
Roya Jabarouti

Read on to find out more information about each member of the Executive.  A copy of the PGSA Executive Manual and  guidelines for Exec Member Conduct can be found here.


Jordan AndersonPresident
Jordan Anderson  

Programme of Study: PhD Criminology
 Joined the Exec: March 2017

Bio: I am a PhD student in Criminology, researching the development of dangerousness and risk in New Zealand society. I am passionate about criminal justice reform and social justice, which are the driving forces behind my postgraduate research. I completed my undergraduate here at Victoria, and have worked with a diverse range of students over the years through my experiences both working in accommodation and tutoring within the university. I want to be on the PGSA executive because I think that it would provide a bit of diversity in my PhD experience. I think it is important to have a diverse range of postgraduate students on the executive, and I can bring my knowledge of the postgraduate experience in my school, as well as the institutional knowledge I have gained since starting at Victoria in 2011. I think that having a representative body for postgraduate students is vitally important. Postgraduate study can be an isolating experience, and there needs to be a both a representative and inclusive body to provide opportunities and experiences for postgrads, as well as defend their interests at an institutional level.  I have worked with students in a variety of capacities throughout my time at Victoria University, and I have been a postgraduate student at VUW since 2014, so I have a good knowledge of the challenges that are part of the postgraduate journey. I hope that I can bring some insight and experience to the role, and that I can help to improve the postgrad experience for others.


Josh BrianCo-Vice-President
Josh Brian 

Programme of Study: Master’s Marine Biology
 Joined the Exec: March 2017

Bio: Hi I’m Josh and about to enter my sixth year at Victoria University, studying a Master’s student in Marine Biology examining potential genetic resistance in corals to the effects of climate change. I also hold a special interest in the classical Greco-Roman world; in particular, ancient myth, literature and propaganda and hold a BA in Classical Studies, in addition to my BSc.  Outside of university, I love running, reading, or watching the Hurricanes and the Phoenix. Given postgraduates do not often attend large lectures (if at all), the sense of community that is easily generated at undergraduate level is not naturally present. This can leave postgraduates rather isolated and disconnected with the rest of the university. PGSA bridges that gap, and allows a wide variety of students to come together at different events, facilitating community and inclusiveness. Something as simple as this can make a huge difference to the mental health and success of postgrads. In addition, it serves an important function in reminding the university that postgraduate students do not just exist for their benefit. Many university adverts highlight the high-quality research and large economic benefit that (especially international) students bring to Wellington. I think the university administration needs to be reminded occasionally that while these metrics are important, providing support and services to postgrads that facilitate these numbers is just as important. By sitting on many boards, I think PGSA does an excellent job of ensuring postgrad interests remain high on the list of university priorities, rather than just maintaining favourable economic reports. I have served on the Science Society executive for two years, including as Vice-President. This has given me an appreciation for how boards work (as well as university politics!), and believe this is an excellent base from which to continue my service to university students, learning many effective communication skills and how to achieve results from staff that have many better things to do!


Priyanka RoyCo-Vice-President
Priyanka Roy

Programme of Study: PhD Theatre
 Joined the Exec: June 2017

Bio: I am pursuing my PhD in Theatre Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. I am passionate about writing. I have published two collections of poetry, ‘Willow Tree’ (2014) and ‘Love and a Thousand Questions’ (2016). Apart from working on feminism and theatre, I also write on culture, women’s issues, theatre and films for HuffPost. Joining PGSA felt like a natural process for me as I wanted to add a greater dimension to my PhD experience. Becoming an executive member, I felt, would not only help me support student issues in a meaningful way but also assist me in engaging with important issues of diversity, gender parity and student support that matters to us, not just as students, but as significant contributors to society. The very first day I attended the PGSA meeting , it was clear to me that PGSA was of immense value to student life at Victoria. It not only promotes greater engagement among students but also organises social activities and events to share crucial information regarding student services. PGSA endeavours to make university life both enriching and exciting for all students. Being immersed in creative pursuits like theatre and writing, I sought out PGSA to gain a better understanding of the student body at Victoria and contribute to student wellbeing. I have a background in communication and policy research and I wanted to bring my experience to PGSA and help in the activities that facilitate broader engagement between the students and the university. This experience would help me in building connections, applying my leadership skills and providing me with a great platform to work with students from all walks of life and from every corner of the world.


Schyana SivananthamTreasurer
Executive Member
Schyana Sivanantham  

Programme of Study: PhD Psychology
Joined the Exec: August 2017

Bio: I’m Schyana, and I’m currently studying towards my PhD in the area of Cognitive Developmental Psychology here at Victoria University. My research investigates how Theory of Mind and motor cognition may be coordinated, and the implications for non-shared and shared intentional activities. I have been a student of VUW for four years so far, having gained my Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology (2013-2016). In my free time I like to practice (and improve) my German language skills, and play the piano. As an executive member of the PGSA, I hope to be a voice for postgraduate students, both domestic and international. Postgraduate study is challenging for many reasons, and while I am on my own PhD journey I wish to help others feel at home here at Victoria, and support postgraduate students in any way I can.


btySecretary/Executive Administrator
Fran Denton 
Joined the Association: October 2017

Bio: Tēnā koutou! I’m Fran and I’m the only paid employee of the PGSA. I’m an experienced administrator with 5 years of experience in roles similar to this one – I have been working for the PGSA since October 2017. If you see me around the university or in the office come and say hi!  I’m excited to work with the PSGA to offer a wide range of events, services and representation to all Postgraduate Students at Victoria.



Processed with VSCO with f2 presetExecutive Member
Taylor Cooney

 Programme of Study: PhD Microbiology
 Joined the Exec: March 2017

Bio:  My name is Taylor and I’m a scientific researcher in the Cancer Immunotherapeutic field – specifically looking at development of novel peptide cancer vaccines. I moved to Wellington after spending four years studying at Otago, and throughout my time down south always had a keen involvement in all aspects of University life – from two years as a Residential Assistant, member of the Otago University Rowing Club to various board and class representative positions. I believe that as a collective, postgraduate students have the experience, skills and maturity to shape the culture of both our own classes and also those of the undergraduates. I believe this board position is vital for maintaining a positive connection between the student body and the faculty, to ensure that both parties work together for the common goal and allow the postgrad community to make their mark on the Vic Uni culture. Postgraduate study can be challenging and even at times frustrating and isolating. Access to an inclusive, friendly and open PGSA is crucial for creating an enjoyable environment in which to ‘ride the research rollercoaster’. I feel that PGSA provides the important stepping stone between the student body and the faculty staff members. One of my favourite experiences at University was living in a residential college. This experience has given me a hugely valuable set of skills including the ability to work in very diverse teams, a ridiculously large amount of patience, the ability to relate in different ways to different individuals and strategies for prioritising many varied tasks. I have also spent time as a Student council representative and secretary, captained various sports teams, mentored undergraduate students, and been both a school prefect and class representative for science and commerce papers. I thrive on being involved in all aspects of University life, and would thoroughly enjoy the experience and new skills this position may bring. I believe I have the skill set and enthusiasm to be a constructive and valuable member of the PGSA board. 


Alyssa RyanExecutive Member
Alyssa Ryan 

Programme of Study: Master’s Environmental Studies
 Joined the Exec: June 2017

Bio:  My name is Alyssa and I am currently studying a Masters in Environmental Studies, with a focus on winegrowers’ perceptions to climate change and climate change adaptation in the wine industry. I have been enrolled at Victoria University for the past six years and have completed my BSc in Environmental Science and Geography. I have also spent a year of that time in the United States on an exchange programme for a GradDipSci, to gain a different perspective outside of what is taught at Victoria University and the School of Geography Environment and Earth Sciences. Since returning from the States, I learned the importance of being involved in campus life and that the opportunities and connections made are crucial to both personal and professional development. I have previous experience working with students as a lead tutor and residential assistant, as well as volunteering around university. Through these roles, I have had opportunities to enhance my leadership skills and I hope through the PGSA, I can apply what I have learned to support other post-graduate students. I am interested in the resources available for postgraduate students and promoting the space where students can develop a community. I want to join the PGSA executive so I can apply to skills and knowledge I have gained to improving student’s experiences at Victoria University by offering support and to help make the most of their time here.


Kris Santoso 1Executive Member
Kris Santoso  

Programme of Study: PhD Chemistry
 Joined the Exec: March 2017

Bio: I am currently in the second year of a PhD in Chemistry, where we are researching new potential antibacterial targets in Mycobacteria tuberculosis. Science research occurs in a collaborative environment and as a result, throughout my postgraduate studies I have worked closely with a number of other postgraduate students in different areas of expertise, each of us trying to understand the other’s language. This has taught me to interact with many students from all over the world in different stages of their studies – a useful skill set in representing the student body. In this role, I am interested in learning about and being involved in the decision-making processes that take place in the University by representing the postgraduate students and their needs. It is important to bring the issues that postgraduate students may be facing to light for consideration during decision-making processes that the university is undertaking. Postgraduate studies are difficult and can be isolating, particularly for those who did not undertake their undergraduate studies at Victoria University. I believe students will achieve better when they are surrounded by like-minded people to bounce and discuss ideas with. PGSA provides a place for such students to network, which can exponentially improve their postgraduate experience. Not only this, but PGSA can provide support and protection for struggling students who may require help outside their supervisor’s involvement. Hence, maintaining a bridged gap between the postgraduate community and the university will better the reputation of the university and attract more international applications.


Will AbbissExecutive Member
Will Abbiss 

Programme of Study: PhD Media Studies
Joined the Exec: October 2017

Bio: I’m a newly-started PhD student in Media Studies, specialising in contemporary British television and its depiction of the cultural past. I’m from the South of England, and arrived in New Zealand to take up a scholarship place at Victoria. As a recent arrival to the university and the country I’m really keen to get involved in the wider community, and becoming a PGSA Executive is the ideal way to do this. I hope that I can help make other newcomers feel welcome and supported by the university as a whole during my time on the Executive. In my fast-eroding spare time I am a trumpet player, currently with the Wellington City Concert Band, and while in the UK was an organiser of the national student brass band contest UniBrass. I am interested in this position primarily to play an active role in the postgraduate community I have recently become a part of. I think the Executive have a very important function in maintaining the visibility and engagement of the PGSA, ensuring it is perceived as a necessary resource and the equal to VUWSA for both students who have continued at Victoria after their undergraduate degrees and those joining as postgraduates like myself. It is vital that all postgraduates are aware of the PGSA and the support it can offer at times of difficulty, and the executive body is what allows this supportive community to thrive. The PGSA is hugely valuable to the postgraduate community and university as a whole, providing not only a sense of fellowship amongst students whose research demands may at some times leave them feeling isolated but also academic support with events such as the 3 Minute Thesis. The PGSA therefore helps students leave Victoria as well-rounded individuals with experiences that stand them in good stead for industry or academic employment when they finish their studies.


Fakailoatonga TaumoefolauExecutive Member
Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau 

Programme of Study: PhD Development Studies
Joined the Exec: October 2017

Bio: My name is Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau and I am currently doing my PhD in Development Studies under the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme Scholarship. I hold a Masters in International Affairs from the Australia National University and a Bachelor of Arts in History/Politics and Linguistics from the University of the South Pacific. The PGSA brings to light at different forums the issues and challenges that are unique and encountered by the postgraduate community, lobbies on our behalf, and as much as it can nurture an inclusive community. In a sense, it aims to act as an effective representative body for the postgraduate community.My main aim in this position would be to strengthen and grow greater inclusive diversity.


PD PhotoExecutive Member
Pascarn Dickinson

Programme of Study: Master’s Science
Joined the Exec: November 2017

I’m Pascarn, a student in the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences (SGEES), currently working towards my Masters of Science in Human Geography here at Victoria.  My thesis focuses on subjective wellbeing, and specifically seeks to uncover the impact that inequalities in the wellbeing of those around might have upon our individual wellbeing.  Before 2017, I had been at VUW for four years, studying a BSc in Geography and Cultural Anthropology, before most recently completing part one of my Masters degree.  I enjoy engaging in aspects of the university outside of my research, with a passion for tutoring and mentoring students at all levels, as acting as Outreach Coordinator for Geography within SGEES.  A lot of opportunities can arise as a postgraduate, and as such, I think it is really important that postgraduates get the support to succeed not only in their studies, but also in all of the other aspects of their life.  Previously I sat on the VUW Science Society executive for 3 years, and I currently sit on the executive of the New Zealand Geographical Society Early Career Researcher Network, meaning that I am well aware of the many challenges and opportunities that diverse students might face both within and outside of the university system.  If you’re a postgraduate or are considering postgraduate study, feel free to come and have a chat!

Jasmine Chan-Hyams Executive Member
Jasmine Chan

Programme of Study: PhD Biotechnology

 Joined the Exec: December 2017

I am currently a PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington studying Biotechnology. The topic of my thesis is bacterial-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (BDEPT) which employs tumour-tropic bacteria armed with a payload of enzymes, such as nitroreductases, that activate a prodrug inside of tumours. My research aims to engineer superior nitroreductases to make this targeted cancer therapy even more effective. I am addict of story and film as well as being a published academic science illustrator. I was a planetarium presenter, at Space Place at the Carter Observatory, for the last six years, where I honed my science communication skills. In 2015 I was the CEO of a Chiasma Wellington, a student organization that connects science students to science industry and ministry in NZ. I have organized networking events, workshops and site visits to regional laboratories. Synapse was a major networking gala held in partnership with NZBIO. I am now an alumni member and mentor to the new team leaders of Chiasma Wellington. I am passionate about growing the biotech business ecosystem in Wellington and New Zealand. To often postgraduate science students are told their only option, after investing up to ten years in education, is to leave the country to continue a career in science research. We need to create local job opportunities for our valuable postgraduates scientists. I believe that if universities and local industry choose to intensely collaborate on research we can cultivate an even more robust and dynamic ecosystem of biotech ventures. Challenging and channeling the relationship between academia and industry can be driven by postgraduate students.

Executive Member
Roya Jabarouti

Programme of Study: PhD Literary Translation Studies

Joined the Exec: March 2018

I’m a PhD Candidate in Literary Translation Studies, in the School of Languages and Cultures, at Victoria University of Wellington. I look at translation metaphorically, in life and while writing my dissertation, where I focus on the semiotics of motions and the translation of emotions in selected poetic writings. My Master’s education in World Literature was the starting point to appreciate a wide range of literatures and cultures from around the world. Joining PGSA is an opportunity for me to get on board of an aspiring multi-cultural community, while bringing my bit and enriching my academic experience.

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The Postgraduate Informer is our monthly e-newsletter. The current and previous three copies of the Informer are listed here but if you would like to find further copies go to the National Library.

Volume 6.1 February 2018
Volume 6.2 March 2018
Volume 6.3 April 2018
Volume 6.4 May 2018

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The Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) was formed in 1994 by a committed group of postgraduate students with a focus on providing services to postgraduate students not already provided by the University.

In 1997 Dennis and Trevor Landers established the Landers Award in order to recognise an individual who provided outstanding work which fostered the ethos and the objectives of the PGSA, or who had done much to improve the experience of the postgraduate student experience. This was in recognition that in the informal beginnings of the PGSA there were people working tirelessly to support postgraduate students. The Landers Postgraduate Award was an attempt to recognise those who had gone before (operating with their own personal resources) and to recognise those who would come after.  The motivations were also partly in response to the closure of the Graduate Students Office.

The first Executive Assistant of the PGSA was Trevor Landers, who worked in an entirely voluntarily capacity as at this time, as the PGSA had no funding or institutional recognition. A delegation, including Trevor, Peter Howland and Vicki Culling met with Alastair Shaw (then President of VUWSA) and argued for a devolution of the quantum which postgraduates paid. Vice-Chancellor Les Holborrow and the Senior Management Team needed convincing. Through discussions, came the Minimum Resource Agreement in which the PGSA and Victoria still discuss and adhere to today. The delegation demanded rights for postgraduate students, and argued that postgraduate students bring in the majority of the income of the University.

The mission and values of the PGSA have not changed drastically from its early beginnings:  to get support and resources for postgraduates students, and encourage the University to take postgraduate students seriously and to treat them well.

Past PGSA Executives have participated in international fora on postgraduate issues and management of a postgraduate voice.  Trevor Landers in August 1997 attended the World Postgraduate Association Conference in Budapest, where the Budapest Declaration was issued and a World Postgraduate Body established, and was achieved without access to external funding.  Once external funding was secured and institutionalised, the foundation of the PGSA was determined.

In 1998 the PGSA as we know it now became established and sustainable, thanks to the financial support from VUWSA and the University, and was formally recognised as a representative student association by VUWSA.  We operate as an autonomous association for and on behalf of postgraduate students in partnership with VUWSA. The PGSA is the representative body of all postgraduate students, providing representation and services for all postgraduates enrolled at Victoria. Postgraduate students comprise roughly 20% of students at Victoria and are defined as students who are enrolled at Honours level or above (with the exception of Law, for which Honours is included as an undergraduate course), including graduate diploma students.


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PGSA Lifetime Members
Sue Kelly
Gemma Swan
Tara Officer
Olayinka (Yinka) Moses
Lynette Johnson
Monique Beyer
Rachel Qi
Hayden Green
Tim Brox
Neal Barber
Professor Neil Quigley
Professor Laurie Bauer
Rebecca Burke
Mary Redmayne
Mabel Hamon
Tanja Schubert-McArthur
Julene Marr
Wayne Pihema
Nicky Hager
Dr Peter Howland
Sam Mackay
Nester Russell
We would like to thank the following organisations who generously sponsored prizes for the 2018 PGSA Quiz Night:

Thistle Inn

Lighthouse Cinema (Cuba)
Victoria Street Cafe
Pegasus Books
Hunter Lounge
Milk & Honey Cafe
Vic Books
Backbencher Gastropub
The PGSA has strong associations with the following university groups:
Faculty of Graduate Research (FGR) http://www.victoria.ac.nz/fgr/
Victoria International (VI)  http://internationalstudenthome.victoria.ac.nz/
Student Learning (SL)  http://www.victoria.ac.nz/st_services/slss/
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA)  http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/
Ngai Tauira (Maori Students’ Association)  http://www.ngaitauira.org.nz/
Pasifika Students’ Council  http://www.victoria.ac.nz/vicpasifika/our-identity/pasifika-council.aspx
Official Documents

The Constitution of the Victoria University of Wellington Postgraduate Students’ Association Inc. was ratified at the AGM on 6 October 2014.


Members’ Meetings 

2017 Annual General Meeting – October 2017

2017 Initial General Meeting – 6 March 2017

2016 Annual General Meeting – 3 October 2016

2016 Initial General Meeting – 7 March 2016

2015 Annual General Meeting – 5 October 2015

2015 Initial General Meeting – 9 March 2015

2014 Annual General Meeting – 6 October 2014

2014 Initial General Meeting – 10 March 2014


Executive Meetings
Due to space constraints, we will only put up the previous 6 month’s executive meeting documents here. If you would like to receive a copy of papers for previous meetings, please contact us.

Executive Meeting, February 2018

Executive Meeting December 2017

Executive Meeting, November 2017

Executive Meeting, October 201

Executive Meeting, September 2017

Executive Meeting, August 2017
President’s Reports

4 August 2017

7 July 2017

5 May 2017

7 April 2017

3 February 2017

9 December 2016

3 November 2016

9 September 2016


PGSA Annual / Interim Reports

President’s Reports

President’s Report March 2017

President’s Report October 2016

President’s Report March 2016

President’s Report October 2015

President’s Report March 2015

President’s Report October 2014

President’s Report March 2014


Treasurer’s Reports

Treasurer’s Report March 2017

Treasurer’s Report October 2016

Treasurer’s Report March 2015

Treasurer’s Interim Report October 2015

Treasurer’s Report March 2015

Treasurer’s Interim Report October 2014

Treasurer’s Report March 2014



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WWW.VUWPGSA.AC.NZ | PGSA@VUW.AC.NZ | +64 4 463 6973