About Us

The McGuinness Institute is a non-partisan think tank working towards a sustainable future for New Zealand. Led by Chief Executive Wendy McGuinness, the Institute undertakes research and analysis with a view to contributing to a national conversation on New Zealand’s long-term future.

The Institute’s work is guided by the following principles:

A commitment to…

  • Sustainability: Achieving long-term benefits for all of New Zealand, driven by a focus on the year 2058.
  • Fairness: Actively seeking diverse perspectives in order to develop innovative work practices, stress-test our assumptions and avoid biases.
  • Inclusiveness: Providing platforms and opportunities for New Zealanders, with a particular focus on amplifying the voices of young people between 18 and 25.
  • Practicality: Producing informative, evidence-based research that is easily accessible to the public, enabling New Zealanders to learn lessons from the past and develop effective policy for the future.
  • Relationships: Working locally and globally with other institutions, NGOs, iwi, hapū and Pasifika peoples to actively develop initiatives that contribute to New Zealand’s social capital.

The McGuinness Institute is funded by The McGuinness Foundation Trust, which invests in a range of education pursuits. For more information, see our latest annual report here.

Types of Projects

We have divided our projects into two types: policy projects and research projects. Our flagship project, Project 2058 (which refers to the year 2058), continues to drive all of our work, and the policy projects and research projects contribute to it and each other in different ways. The policy projects shape and guide the research projects and the research projects inform the policy projects. We see the relationship between these two types of projects as constantly feeding off each other – as illustrated in Figure 1 on the right.

About the policy projects
As a result of our observation that in policy-making, foresight drives strategy, strategy requires reporting, and reporting shapes foresight, we developed three interlinking policy projects: ForesightNZ, StrategyNZ and ReportingNZ. Each of these tools must align if we want New Zealand to develop durable, robust and forward-looking public policy.

About the research projects
Our research projects are framed and fed into by our policy projects and address a range of significant issues facing New Zealand. They are developed in response to a wide range of areas of study: CivicsNZ, LivestockNZ, OneOceanNZ, PublicScienceNZ, TacklingPovertyNZ and TalentNZ.

2019 Work Programme

The McGuinness Institute is fortunate to be able to set its work programme in response to where we think we can deliver value. This means that the observations made throughout 2018 shape our work programme for 2019. We remain flexible throughout the year to ensure that our focus remains on exactly what we believe is most important for the long-term future of New Zealand. Below is a map of our 2019 work programme. Learn more about our observations from previous work programmes here. To learn more about what drives our work programme, please see and subscribe to our annual newsletter.


Our patrons have all provided invaluable guidance and encouragement and we are thankful for their ongoing support. The Institute is very proud to be associated with the following individuals:

Professor Lionel Carter

Professor of Marine Geology at Victoria University of Wellington

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Roger Dennis

Consultant: innovation, foresight, transformation

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Sue Elliott

Chair of the Wellington Sculpture Trust and strategic communications adviser

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Dr Bronwyn Hayward

Associate Professor and Head of Department, Political Science and International Relations, University of Canterbury

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Professor Mark Henaghan

Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of Otago

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Dr Carwyn Jones

Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Victoria University of Wellington

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Dr Girol Karacaoglu

Head of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington

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Todd Krieble

Principal Economist, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research

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Councillor Dr Ella Lawton

Otago Polytechnic Centre for Sustainable Practice

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Bill Moran

Previously worked for New Zealand Treasury

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Alison Nevill

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Dame Dr Claudia Orange

Head of Research, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

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James Palmer

Strategic Development Group Manager, Hawkes Bay Regional Council

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Neville Peat

Dunedin writer and environmentalist

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Dame Diane Robertson

Chair, The Data Futures Partnership Working Group

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth

Inaugural professor of agribusiness at University of Waikato

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Dr J. Morgan Williams

Principal, FutureSteps

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Past Patrons:

The late Sir Paul Callaghan

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The late Jan Lee Martin

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The late Kevin Simpkins

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The Team

The Institute employs graduates, academics and young professionals from a range of disciplines. The team currently consists of full-time and part-time staff, with backgrounds in English, law, commerce, philosophy, politics, history and design. Our diverse backgrounds and standpoints allow us to integrate different knowledge bases and disciplines in order to engage with the complex issues that are the focus of our research. We are a young and energetic team and are conscious that we are continually learning. We are particularly interested in gathering varying viewpoints by creating meaningful connections with other groups interested in pursuing a vision for New Zealand. 

Wendy McGuinness

Chief Executive

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Eleanor Merton

Head of Research

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Ella Reilly


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Reuben Brady

Research Analyst

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Becky Jenkins


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Billie McGuinness

Assistant Designer

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Isabella Smith

Research Analyst

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Angus Shaw

Research Analyst

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Office dog


Office puppy

External Review Policy

Our external reviewers are individuals who are chosen for their specialist knowledge of a topic (or aspect of a topic) addressed in a report. External reviewers are usually named on the inside cover of the report but occasionally, if requested, the name is kept confidential.

Objectives of External Review

Reviewers are asked, among other things, to evaluate whether the draft report:

  • Achieves its strategic purpose
  • Has a clear intention
  • Is methodologically sound
  • Follows appropriate ethical guidelines
  • Is appropriately structured and easy to follow
  • Has any inaccuracies or omissions in the content
  • Has conclusions and/or recommendations that follow logically from the main body of the report
  • Discusses and provides the necessary references to relevant work

Response to questions more specific to the report’s topic area may also be requested. For example, whether ethical or cultural dimensions or current scientific knowledge are appropriately and accurately incorporated. The first review of the draft report is completed internally by the McGuinness Institute team. The second review is completed by external parties.

Thank you to all our external reviewers who over the years have helped us deliver quality publications.

Our external reviewers to date have included:

External Review Process

  1. The topic is assessed to determine the type of expertise needed to review the report.
  2. A list of external reviewers is considered and agreed. The scope and timeframes of the review are discussed.
  3. All external reviewers will receive the one-page summary outlining the general tone and content of everyone’s feedback.
  4. The reviewers’ responses are then considered, further discussed with the reviewers if clarification is required, and incorporated by the authors as appropriate. If the reviewers’ strategic comments/feedback is not adopted, this is discussed with the reviewer in advance of publication.
  5. A final draft is prepared. At this point, if a reviewer requests, we will email the revised draft through to them so they may undertake a final revision of the draft (or part of it) before it goes to the editor and is published.
  6. The final draft goes to the editor and is published.
  7. The authors maintain complete responsibility for the report’s content. To ensure this is clarified in the report, the following statement is made in the preface – ‘All errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the author(s)’.

Dr Sharon Adamson
Felicity Barnes
Jan Bieringa
Michael Boland
Keitha Booth
Dr Rick Boven
Alastair Boult
Max Bradford
Dr Janet Bradford-Grieve
Dave Breuer
Denise Brown
Sir Paul Callaghan
Wayne Cartwright
Julian Carver
Dr Ralph Chapman
Dr Anthony Cole
Professor Marston Conder
Ronnie Cooper
Guy Coulson
Yvonne Curtis
Dr Peter Davies
Roger Dennis
Tony Falkenstein
Tony Fenton
Jeanette Fitzsimons
Bob Frame
Moira Fraser
Bruce Gilkison
Derek Gill
Sir Peter Gluckman
Dr Kerry Grundy

Robin Gunston
Professor Harlene Hayne
Myra Harpham
Professor Jack Heinemann
David Henry
Robert Hickson
Sir Frank Holmes
Dr John Hood
Sophie Howard
Stephanie Howard
Mark Hucklesby
Margaret Hunn
Beat Huser
Colin James
Professor Philip Joseph
Jonathan King
Stephen Knight-Lenihan
Fanny Lammers Van Toorenburg
John Lancashire
Dr Maggie Lawton
Bridget Liddell
Chris Lipscombe
Nick Marsh
Dr Andrew Matthews
Dr Malcolm Menzies
Gareth Moore-Jones
Lloyd Morrison
Kim Ngarimu
Dr Barbara Nicholas
Dame Claudia Orange
James Palmer

Ashok Parbhu
Dr John Peet
Sherie Pointon
Patrick Power
Kerry Prendergast
Stephanie Pride
Peter Rankin
Wendy Reid
John Roberts
Dr Lin Roberts
Dr Mere Roberts
Professor Jacqueline Rowarth
Professor Caroline Saunders
Judy Siers
Professor Phil A. Silva
Wayne Silver
Chris Simmons
Jim Sinner
Morgan Slyfield
Dr Huhana Smith
Professor Jeff Tallon
Hugh Templeton
Dr Steve Thompson
Nat Torkington
Dr John Volpe
Dr Jim Watson
Dr Sean Weaver
Mark Weldon
Jez Weston
Dr Morgan Williams
Dr John Wilson

The Sir Paul Callaghan Science Meets Humanities Scholarship

During the StrategyNZ workshop the late Sir Paul Callaghan spoke about making New Zealand ‘a place where talent wants to live’. Sir Paul’s speech has sparked the Institute’s work over the past two years, and it has inspired our forthcoming projects.

Sir Paul believed in investing in young people and making New Zealand somewhere where young people want to live and work. In honour of Sir Paul Callaghan the focus of this scholarship will be to investigate how New Zealanders could implement Sir Paul’s dream of making New Zealand ‘a place where talent wants to live’.

Charlotte Greenfield and Darren Zhang were announced as the two recipients for this Scholarship on March 22, 2013.

The recipients of the 2013 scholarship: Charlotte was a participant in charlottethe darren-zhangMcGuinness Institute EmpowerNZ workshop held in August 2012. She holds a LLB (Hons) and a BA majoring in English. After this scholarship Charlotte moved to New York to study investigative journalism at Columbia University. Darren was a participant in the LongTermNZ workshop. Darren studied a BA in politics and philosophy at Auckland University. He is a Youth Advisor at the Ministry of Youth Development and has been involved in the NZ Red Cross Refugee Services and UNICEF New Zealand. Both Charlotte and Darren hold a passion for creating a New Zealand where talent wants to live.

The purpose of the 2013 scholarship: Charlotte and Darren explored practical ways in which Sir Paul’s vision could be implemented. They travelled the country, as well as utilising Skype to interview the 30 kiwis featured in the 2013 TalentNZ Journal. For more information on this journal please see www.talentnzjournal.org.

john-trailThe project manager: John Trail is Head of Sales and Marketing at Magritek, which was founded by the late Sir Paul Callaghan in 2004 as an advanced technology company. John helped the Institute select the two recipients of the scholarship and will act as project manager. The scholarship is supported by Trade Me founder Sam Morgan, who will sponsor the students

For more information on Sir Paul Callaghan’s dream see our Think Piece 17: A place where talent wants to live.

For more information on the TalentNZ project please click here.

The Jan Lee Martin Science Meets Humanities Scholarship

jan-lee-martinAbout Jan Lee Martin: Jan was a respected futurist, a professional member of the World Future Society and a member of the World Futures Studies Federation. She contributed to many publications, including The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies, which became a standard text for futures studies degree courses. She was also a member of the editorial board of the international Journal of Futures Studies. Although she lived in Australia, Jan was born in New Zealand, and in March 2011 she was one of the speakers at the Institute’s StrategyNZ workshop in Wellington. It was Jan’s wish that bright young people with big ideas and a passion for New Zealand’s long-term future should be given the opportunity to carry out independent research in an area that was of interest to them and of potential benefit to all.

The recipient of the 2013 scholarship: Ashleigh Cox was a participant in the McGuinness Institute’s LongtermNZ workshop, held in December 2012. Ashleigh is an economics student who is currently completing a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours at ashleigh-coxWaikato University. Ashleigh was awarded the scholarship due to her interest in exploring the application of Dr Volpe’s framework within the New Zealand context.

The purpose of the 2013 scholarship: The purpose of this year’s Jan Lee Martin Scholarship is to provide the recipient the opportunity to research an area of interest. Ashleigh has chosen to investigate the potential for constructing an extended version of the Global Aquaculture Performance Index (GAPI) that is able to measure and compare the environmental performance of the major animal-protein sources produced in New Zealand. The results of the investigation will be published as a working paper. This is a scoping exercise to determine if such a project would be possible based on publicly available information.

dr-john-volpeThe project manager: Dr John Volpe is a Canadian scientist who works for the Seafood Ecology Research Group. During a visit to the Institute in December 2012, Dr Volpe spoke about the framework he has developed to compare the ecological sustainability of farming various species of fish in different countries – the GAPI. The widespread adoption of such an index would increase consumer awareness of the environmental impacts of food production, and provide a useful tool to inform industries and policy-makers about where the greatest opportunities for increased sustainability lie.


Office Tour

Watch the video below for a tour of the McGuinness Institute office, and some background information from Wendy McGuinness about what we do and how we work.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Institute relate to government?
Our work involves frequent communication with government and other national and international organisations. When appropriate, we work with organisations who share a common interest on specific projects. The Institute is non-partisan and has no affiliation with any political parties, government departments or organisations.

What are the Institute’s international affiliations?
Wendy McGuinness is a full member of the Association of Professional Futurists and the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF). The WFSF operates as a global network of practising futurists – researchers, teachers, scholars, policy analysts, activists and others from approximately 60 countries. Wendy has presented at four World Future Society (WFS) conferences, including the 2015 WFS conference held in San Francisco on TalentNZ.

Does the Institute welcome donations?
As you can appreciate, there is a wide range of activities and research opportunities we would like to undertake but for funding reasons, we are simply unable to do. If you are in a position to donate funds for a particular project or scholarship, or to provide other general support, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What does the Institute’s Māori name ‘Te Hononga Waka’ mean?
Te Hononga Waka means the joining place of waka. The name was selected to refer to the work the Institute does to forge connections between people and projects; the ‘tying of waka’ represents intertwined journeys and forward movement. The name was gifted to the Institute by its composer Shaquille Shortland on behalf of participants of the 2017 WakaNZ: Navigating with foresight workshop. Read more about the story of the Institute’s Māori name in our blog here.

What is the James Duncan reference library?
More information about the James Duncan Reference Library can be found on the library page. The James Duncan reference library and archive is located at the office of the McGuinness Institute in Wellington and online and was established in October 2009 to support the Institute in providing a strong evidence base for our work.

The library was named after the former Chair of the Commission for the Future, Professor James Duncan (1921–2001), and has been established to provide a record of long-term thinking in New Zealand. The collection is divided into three sections.


  • Old and/or unique New Zealand publications.


  • Publications on New Zealand’s future-thinking initiatives and historical development, the theory and practice of future-thinking, and strategy developments.


  • Recent publications on a range of topics, including national and international perspectives.

Gold and silver publications can be accessed on our online catalogue

The Institute believes that New Zealand’s future must build on its past and this is why our library, in all its forms, is so important to us. The collection has reached 4,710 books and publications and is still growing.