Department of Statistics

Ke (Kim) Nan, China: Statistics PhD student


"A good reputation here and overseas."


The potential of New Zealand’s wind energy to power the nation drives Ke (Kim) Nan’s doctoral research. By studying the statistics generated by the New Zealand wind industry, and looking at economics, the environmental impact, and the country’s current power generation, he hopes to help build a better understanding about how wind-generated power could become a viable option for the future, both environmentally and economically.

How did you end up at the University of Auckland?
I came here to study in 2002. By that time, I had a Bachelor in International Trade from the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China. I did my MSc in Statistics at the University of Auckland.

The University of Auckland is the best in New Zealand. It has a good reputation here and overseas.
I like the environment of the University of Auckland, too. It’s located in the city, so newcomers are conveniently close to transport, banking and shopping. Albert Park, right next to the campus, provides beautiful scenery and spaces for people to relax.

How important was the University’s worldwide ranking in your decision to pursue postgraduate study here?
Deciding where to study was a long process. Of course, the University’s ranking was an important factor, in particular the ranks of the individual subjects. The decision was also influenced by the quality of the initial communications at the application stage – I had discussions with course advisors in different departments and schools, and they were encouraging and enthusiastic.

How important were the researchers and research topics available in the Department of Statistics in your decision to do your PhD at the University of Auckland?
The Department of Statistics encourages postgraduate students to get involved in a number of projects that are supervised by different lecturers and researchers. Such a strategy is important so students can find topics and appropriate supervisors for PhD study. Most lecturers are very kind and happy to give advice.

How have you funded your PhD study?
I have a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship.

Were you familiar with New Zealand before coming here? Has life in New Zealand been as you imagined?
Before coming to New Zealand, I thought it was a small country in north Europe! Life in New Zealand was totally different to my past experience in China. New Zealand has a different landscape, different weather conditions, a different look and a different social system.

What do you enjoy most about living in Auckland?
I like the climate in Auckland – it’s (almost) warm in all seasons. Winter is a bit windy and rainy, but we always see rainbows after the rain. In summer we go camping, fishing and swimming and do all sorts of exciting activities.

Did you know anyone at the University before you arrived?
No, but my wife and I had a friend who had moved to New Zealand ahead of us, so we got some good advice on settling down in Auckland. Since then we have had two sons – two little New Zealanders of our own.

How have you made friends here?
Neighbours helped us get familiar with our new home, got us involved in the community and sometimes helped us solve difficulties. Classmates became friends easily, and seminars and conferences were good places to meet academic colleagues.

How important was Auckland’s lifestyle, climate and amenities in your decision to study here?
Thinking back over the years, I can only say I was lucky to have made a decent choice!

Was Auckland’s cultural diversity an important part of your decision to study here?
Yes, cultural diversity means open minds.

What are your main interests outside your study?
Reading – I love history books with their stories of adventures, mysteries, secrets and philosophies. Reading releases me from the stress of study. I used to collect stamps, coins and old books, but the New Zealand market for that is limited. Travelling is my second main interest, and outdoor activities always refresh my body and spirit. I also enjoy movies and music.

What questions do you think potential PhD students from overseas need to ask when making their decision about where to study?
The costs of study, including fees, and accommodation and living costs. And immigration policy – not all students may be allowed to stay in New Zealand after their study, but a good policy or explanation would impress the best students and give them hope that they may have an opportunity to stay.

Ke (Kim) Nan is from Langfang in Heibei Province in China. He holds a Bachelor of Economics in International Economics and Trade from the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China, and a MSc in Statistics from the University of Auckland.

UPDATE: Ke is now a data scientist in the research and development team at appliance company Haier Group in Qingdao, China.