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Research system refreshed

Terry Te Maari and Quanita Russell, tangata whenua of Kohunui Marae at Pirinoa, supporting a three-day GNS Science wananga involving eight leading New Zealand scientists at the South Wairarapa marae in 2016. PHOTO/FILE

The Government has made public its much-awaited research, science, and innovation [RSI] green paper, paving the way for the future of New Zealand science.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Associate Minister Ayesha Verrall launched the paper last Thursday, opening the conversation about the future of the research, science, and innovation [RSI] system.

“The world is a very different place now to when our Crown Research Institutes were created in the 1990s. If the last 18 months have shown us anything, it is that we need to have expert science to make expert, dynamic decisions,” Woods said.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said the RSI system had served us well.

“It helped guide the country to successfully respond to covid-19, address climate change and has helped New Zealand lead the world in agricultural research.”

He said climate change was a good example of how research could help us all understand and agree on the best pathway forward.

He said it was “utterly crucial” that we had consensus on the best way forward, and research could play a big part in that.

“The world is a very different place now to when our Crown Research Institutes were created in the 1990s. If covid-19 has shown us anything, it is that we need to have expert science to make expert, dynamic decisions.”

McAnulty said to ensure great work could continue, we needed a modern, future focused research and science system that was “connected, adaptable, resilient, and diverse”.

“I am conscious of the recent disappointment over the Wairarapa water storage scheme. While work is still under way to try and rejuvenate that, it would help if we can use an improved RSI system to inform every one of the best ways forward to address climate change and ensure economic prosperity for our region.”

“I’ve long said that Wairarapa, with our proximity to Wellington and diverse geography, would be the ideal location for a crown research institute or equivalent.”

He said the paper was the first step in exploring how to make the future research system a reality.

Woods said the system had served New Zealand “exceptionally well”, but it was now time to ask if the system was fit for purpose for the environmental, economic, and social challenges, like climate change and child poverty.

“Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways is a programme that seeks to start an open and fulsome conversation on a range of issues facing the sector, but we’re not going into this with any pre-determined ideas.

“The RSI system has helped guide the country to successfully respond to covid-19, now to ensure this great work can continue, we need a modern, future focused research and science system that is connected, adaptable, resilient, and diverse,” Woods said.

The paper looked at how to better identify and deliver on whole-of-system research priorities; how the research system could best honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi [the Treaty of Waitangi] to give life to Maori research aspirations and enable matauranga Māori; and how funding systems may change for the future.

The paper also considered tactics to increase connections, collaboration, and adaptability with research institutions along with how the RSI system supported workforces.

A final consideration was how New Zealand would invest in, govern, and run national research infrastructure.

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