Launch of Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways

Research, Science and Innovation

E ngā mātāwaka,

E ngā iwi o te motu,

Tēnā koutou katoa.

Ko Ayesha Verrall ahau,

Te Minita mō te Rangahau, Pūtaiao me te Auahatanga.

Tēnā koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te wā,

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.


It is a privilege to be here to participate in this year’s Science New Zealand Awards. I am thrilled to be able to meet the awardees, and to hear about their exciting accomplishments. The opportunity to meet and engage with dedicated researchers is probably my favourite part of this job.

I want to acknowledge the Chair of Science New Zealand, David Hughes, the Crown Research Institute and Callaghan Innovation Board members and Chief Executives, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr Juliet Gerrard, and our guests tonight, Kevin O’Connell Deputy Head of Mission from the European Union and Eric Soulier from the Embassy of France in New Zealand.

I also want to acknowledge everyone from our Crown Research Institutes and Callaghan Innovation. Your outstanding achievements and demonstration of strong collaboration to deliver world-class research for a better Aotearoa New Zealand do not go unnoticed.


Even as the threat posed by the pandemic recedes, New Zealand and the world faces a barrage of wicked problems

  • climate change
  • environmental degradation
  • low productivity
  • slew of complex social and health issues that undermine our wellbeing

An impactful research science and innovation system is crucial to surviving these challenges and realising the opportunities for improved lives and livelihoods that lie beyond them.

Much of the work to tackle these big challenges occurs within our CRIs or is supported by Callaghan Innovation.

Since Ive been minister Ive seen many instances of this and I know tonight I will hear of many more.

I met the team at Scion developing opportunities in forestry to sequester carbon while creating novel products and economic opportunities in the circular bioeconomy.

Ive met the team at GNS developing catalysts to produce green hydrogen with lower energy requirements and fewer rare earth metals.

Ive joined the Callaghan backed clean-tech mission in Singapore where kiwi start-ups were translating their science into products the rest of the world desperately needs.

Research and innovation of this sort is necessary to transition to a high-wage, low-emissions economy. And while these are examples of the great work going on, we know we need to do more to meet the scale of the challenges we face in climate, change not to mention other domains.

That’s why we’ve been working on RSI system reforms called Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways, to design a system that better supports you, our talented researchers, in addressing the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Over the last 18 months we have been reviewing our research, science and innovation system. Looking at how it operates, how it serves the people who work within it, what it produces and how it functions to address our future needs.

And now, I am excited today to be able to release the White Paper for Te Ara Paerangi, which allows us to embark on the next stage of this transformative programme.

The Paper lays out the Government’s vision for New Zealand’s research, science and innovation system, and outlines the key actions and directions we’ll be taking through Te Ara Paerangi. It provides a roadmap for how we will implement these changes and demonstrates how we will continue to work with you as the programme progresses.

Green Paper and the changes needed

Before I cover what’s in the White Paper, I’d first like to thank the over two thousand participants and submitters who contributed their insight, dedication and expertise to the Green Paper consultation last summer and our engagements since then.

Through the Green Paper consultation, we heard an overwhelming appetite for real transformation which has led directly to the vision presented in the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways White Paper.

You told us we need to do more to enable you to use your skills and ambition to tackle the big challenges.

And having been a researcher before I came to parliament I’m not surprised. We all go to work in the morning to make a difference to our world.

So if there is one word to summarise the purpose of these reforms its impact.

To make meaningful impact we will need to shift from a system with multiple small entities and strategies to one in which we focus our efforts on nationally significant priorities.

Our investment needs to move from areas of traditional strength to the things that will really matter to our future wellbeing and prosperity.

We must release our talented people from unproductive competition for grants and give them time to develop the skills and relationships to convert their great ideas into impact.

And our system needs to embed Te Tiriti and be more responsive to Maori and Pacific Peoples to improve the wealth and resilience of those communities.

White paper summary

The Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways White Paper charts a course to respond to these needs. It sets out four key areas of reform.

The first is to create new futures through focusing on the most important challenges and opportunities for our wellbeing. This will mean setting National Research Priorities and directing significant long term public funding at them.

Priorities will be vehicles for building new capabilities and enable researchers to work across disciplines. We will create impact by setting ambitious missions and building strong connections between researchers and the people who will ultimately implement their innovation - be they government, industry, iwi, end users or communities.

This new system will help us better address the challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand like climate change, natural disasters, improving our wellbeing, and lifting productivity.

Second is to embed Te Tiriti and Māori aspirations into the design of the research, science and innovation system. A clear message from the Green Paper consultation was that the current policy settings fail to give sufficient expression to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This means appropriate representation of Māori at all levels of our system. I’ve been inspired by the scientists I’ve met who are integrating matauranga and cutting edge innovation - Peter Lucas Jones of te Hiku media who is using artificial intelligence to develop Te Reo speech recognition software. By creating opportunities for Māori to pursue their own priorities and mātauranga we can raise the resilience and prosperity of Māori communities.

Thirdly we will build a system that truly supports an excellent and diverse workforce. This will require a greater emphasis on fellowships as well as changing the incentives in our funding system to reduce contract ‘churn’ and promote capability development. We need to ensure pathways from science training to a broad range of careers needs to be supported by qualifications, like applied PhDs. I know there are great examples of these like the sustainable food futures PhD program at Lincoln and Canterbury university where students get AgResearch and other CRI supervisors. We can take these promising models to scale so CRIs get a better supply of graduates and we ameliorate the precarious careers faced by early career scientist’s.

And fourth is working to create a sustainable, resilient and cohesive system.  We will ensure our public research organisations have the scope and scale to adapt to emerging priorities. We will consider reforming the company model of Crown Research Institutes to foster science for the public good. We will develop an infrastructure road map to co-ordinate investment and collocate buildings where that offers synergies.  We will establish long term funding envelops for those essential science services that support core government regulatory functions- like infectious disease surveillance or natural hazard monitoring.

I’m excited by the possibilities that the Te Ara Paerangi reforms can offer our researchers and innovators.

As our awardees tonight show, our researchers and innovators can have a significant and wide-ranging impact on the lives of New Zealanders. We just need to make sure the system is helping them succeed.

I am excited by the prospect of what future generations of award winners might achieve, especially when they are supported by a system like the ones I have outlined tonight.


As I conclude, I want to acknowledge again the vital contributions that our finalists tonight have played towards realising the impact of research, science and innovation. 

I encourage you to read the White Paper and be involved in Te Ara Paerangi - Future Pathways.

We are committed to working with all parts of the research, science and innovation sector and in partnership with Maori and Pacific peoples as we bring these reforms to life.

Fundamentally, Te Ara Paerangi is about designing a system that better supports our people to do what they do best – so we can’t do it without you.

I look forward to working with you.

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.