Moving between Scotland and New Zealand over the past 12 years has been "like a travelling circus" for Professor Nat Waran, her family and their cats, horses and dogs.

Now, however, EIT's Executive Dean - Faculty of Education, Humanities and Health Science is enjoying settling into her new role on campus.

Dr Waran, husband Chris and sons Kal and Conor are luxuriating in a "glamping" lifestyle, renting a lovely but still-to-be-fully-furnished house in the Esk Valley.

"We've still got a container-load of household goods floating on the high seas," she explains. But far more importantly, they once again have their beloved family pets around, including Tee, an elderly Jack Russell dubbed "the Glaswegian", who have joined them on their rural block after passing through quarantine.


"Tee has made the journey to and from New Zealand three times, so she must have earned lots of air points by now," she says.

British by birth and international in her outlook, Dr Waran describes herself as "an applied animal scientist by training and an educationalist at heart".

With a first class zoology degree from Glasgow University and a PhD from Cambridge University, her career as an academic has taken her to many different countries, including China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Her most recent role as professor and inaugural director of the International Centre for Animal Welfare Education at the University of Edinburgh was an opportunity that lured her away from Unitec, where, from 2006 to 2011, she was Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Social and Health Sciences and head of the School of Natural Sciences.

That first move to New Zealand was motivated by a longing for a better climate and a more relaxed lifestyle for her family.

"After 14 years working at Edinburgh University and with two kids [the boys were then aged 4 and 8], I felt it was time for our family to experience life elsewhere.

"My husband has always been a fantastic support. Chris is an agronomist who specialises in the growth, storage and innovation around a variety of crops and in particular potatoes, and so he can be flexible about where he works. His agronomy expertise is respected in Scotland, but he feels very much valued in New Zealand and loves working with farmers here."

Chris, like his wife, grew up in a well-travelled family, but she says he and their sons discovered a sense of turangawaewae living in New Zealand.

"They felt it was their home, and I realise that I took them away from that," this animal lover says of the move back to Scotland after accepting the head role at the newly-created International Centre for Animal Welfare Education.

Five years on, all the family are enjoying being back in New Zealand and also getting to know Hawke's Bay, a region they haven't explored before.

"We like the people, the landscape and the culture; everyone enjoys being outside here."

Dr Waran expects to draw on her range of academic experiences in leading the many staff members employed in what is one of two faculties at EIT.

"I am still in the process of asking questions and learning, but in the longer run I would like to facilitate the development of more innovation around teaching and applied research, ensure we are well connected with our local businesses and grow EIT's national and international presence.

"My aim is to support the development of different subjects, programmes and staff to their fullest potential and to discover new areas that may have wider relevance and potential, whilst also ensuring a transformational student experience."