Research Projects

Public Science NZ


Investing in science for the long-term benefit of New Zealand

PublicScienceNZ is a project that aims to contribute to a discussion on how to invest in science for the long-term benefit of New Zealand. This project aims to contribute to the limited dialogue concerning the government-funded science system, in the hope that New Zealand invests its research dollar well and delivers sustainable outcomes for current and future generations. The project was established in 2012 and is ongoing.

The project is built on an assumption that society needs good science. However, we have found that the government-funded science system has a long way to go before it delivers value to society through the provision of a vibrant and dynamic science community that is committed to working hard to achieve a shared vision for the future. As outlined in Report 9: Science Embraced, the formula for improving well-being through science consists of nine strategic pillars that together build a space where science and society meet. The pillars build sequentially on one another, creating an integrated and transparent framework in what could loosely be called a social contract.

Latest publication

Submission – Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Green Paper

Visit Submissions

​The Institute is increasingly concerned that we are yet to pivot and invest in research systems to collect and report climate change data. This submission, therefore, has a key focus on how reform to the RSI system can better position Aotearoa New Zealand’s capability of delivering on climate opportunities and challenges. We find that, in the climate space, not enough effort is put into examining and differentiating between the different types of research that are needed. No one seems to be maintaining the public good datasets that currently exist, identifying new datasets that are needed or developing a taxonomy for the 21st century. It is crucial to consistently review and repeat research over time to improve data and identify progress (i.e. what works and what does not).

Past initiatives

World Science Festival New York

3 June 2017: World Science Festival 2017 – The Future of Farming: Programming perfect produce (New York)

Wendy attended the World Science Festival 2017 – The Future of Farming: Programming perfect produce in New York where she watched a demonstration of ‘food computers’, which are enclosed, programmable containers that allow you to simulate any environment for growing different crops. Read more about this event on our blog.

During her trip to New York Wendy also visited and interviewed Paul Philpott (see photo to the right), one of ten farmer/entrepreneurs of Square Roots (an initiative bringing fresh produce to the people of New York City). 

Assorted publications

See a selection of our latest research and publications related to PublicScienceNZ below.

Working Paper 2020/06 – Letter to the Minister on AgResearch’s approval for GM animals in light of pandemic risk

Report 16 – An Overview of Genetic Modification in New Zealand 1973–2013 – The first forty years

Report 9 – Science Embraced – Government-funded Science under the Microscope

Report 9b – A History of Government-funded Science 2009-2011


Genetic Modification

The aim of the project is to monitor developments in genetic modification and related policy both in New Zealand and overseas to examine whether our regulatory scheme is fit for purpose.

Pandemic Management

The aim of this project is to learn from past one-off events in order to be more resilient in the future. See PandemicNZ for recent work.

Past Work

In 2006, the Institute completed a report titled  Managing the Business Risk of a Pandemic: Lessons from the past and a checklist for the future (June 2006). This Report reviewed past epidemic and pandemic events in order to suggest ways to make New Zealand more resilient.

In 2015, as a result of the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we worked with Roger Dennis (Christchurch) and Rick Boven (Auckland) to produce the following report: New Zealand Supply Chain Resilience Report (also known as Lessons From the West African Ebola Outbreak in Relation to New Zealand’s Supply Chain Resilience) (2015). This report was sponsored by Z Energy Limited and Foodstuffs (NZ) Limited. See our contributing papers page to read this report.