Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith (left) receiving the Quaich (a traditional Scottish drinking vessel) from Queen Margaret University, handed over by Sport Manawatū CEO Kelly Shanks.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith (left) receiving the Quaich (a traditional Scottish drinking vessel) from Queen Margaret University, handed over by Sport Manawatū CEO Kelly Shanks.


Perhaps most famous for its striking architecture and dramatic cityscape, you’d be forgiven for wondering what Palmerston North has in common with Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

While it can’t compete with attractions such as the most fought-over castle in the world or a knighted penguin, Palmerston North is known as the “student city” of New Zealand similar to Edinburgh’s reputation of a sought-after higher education destination.

Earlier this year, exploration to develop a relationship with Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh commenced. Synergies were identified between the focus of QMU and Palmerston North’s education institutions by QMU alumna and CEO of Sport Manawatū, Kelly Shanks.

Founded in 1875, Queen Margaret University offers the broadest range of health-related degrees in Scotland including dietetics, nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, audiology, as well as food innovation.

They have recently pioneered innovation around an alternative to palm oil for use in the bakery industry and there are direct synergies with the innovation, food research and development pieces of work that has been a long-standing strength within our own community. Collaboration opportunities abound between QMU, Massey University, UCOL Te Pūkenga, Food HQ, and other local Crown Research Institutions.

Palmerston North’s Labour MP, Tangi Utikere, recently visited Queen Margaret University. “I see real opportunities around collaboration with QMU, particularly in the Food HQ, research and innovation space.”

The University’s view on play, active recreation and sport resonates with the focus of Sport Manawatū. A QMU research project is transforming play in the community and playing a central role in creating play-friendly communities across Scotland.

“Play is a universal language and has been proven to help connect those from differing backgrounds,” explains Sport Manawatū’s CEO, Kelly Shanks. “As a resettlement area, Palmerston North has the opportunity to connect former refugees and migrants into the community through play, active recreation and sport that is culturally responsive and there are learnings we can take from QMU’s research project.”

In addition, QMU takes an innovative approach helping young people with limited mobility to access frame equipment, become mobile, and foster independence through sport. QMU has played a pivotal role in bringing frame running to the forefront of parasports by providing scientific evidence for frame running classification, a requirement for its inclusion in future Paralympics.

On a recent personal trip back to home to visit her family, Ms Shanks presented the University with a gift from the city to signal the intent of forming a long-lasting relationship between Queen Margaret University and Palmerston North city.

Mayor Grant Smith is encouraged by the possibilities of a relationship with Queen Margaret University. “I have extended an invitation for representatives from the University to visit if they are able to so we can showcase some of the strengths we have on offer and to provide any guidance that they may find helpful on their own innovation journey.”

Dr Sara Smith (left), Dean of School of Health Sciences at Queen Margaret University receives a gift from the city of Palmerston North from Kelly Shanks, CEO of Sport Manawatū.



For further information, please contact:

Rachel O’Connor
Head of Communications and Impact
Phone 021 330 308