Is the squeaky NZ science wheel finally going to get a bit of oil?

By Kevin 22/04/2008

Jeff Talon has written to signatories of the letter asking that the Marsden fund attaching the National Science Panel’s Science Manifesto. This is fantastic and I thank Jeff very much for this. His email is reporduced below, I am assuming he will not mind getting it out to as wide an audience as possible.


However (and isn’t there always one?) his email also highlights some problems.


* despite being a member of RSNZ, subscribing to most of there email lists and blogging on science issues I am curiously unaware of any consultation process going into this manifesto.

* he also mentions we will no doubt have heard of several media events around science funding. Well no, I haven’t. Many a NZ sicientist is in my position of haiving my nose down trying to meet deadlines, put my kids through uni, and pay my onerous taxes with very little spare time for stuff that is not in my face.


This is important; it should be in NZ scientists faces. I hope by reproducing it here, and on my email discussion list and NZ Science website (in its infancy, help required) that I have done my little bit to give this very squeaky wheel a bit of oil (I fear it is actually rusted solid, but I will get to that later…).


The National Science Panel’s report on the state and future of science in New Zealand entitled “A plan for the recovery of New Zealand Science can also be found at


Here’s Jeff’s email.


Dear signatories to the Marsden Fund Open Letter to the Minister,


I am taking the liberty to use your email address to send you a copy of the National Science Panel’s Science Manifesto that was launched last Monday in Wellington and today in Auckland. The NSP has addressed issues around the health of the science system and concluded that there are comprehensive changes that need to take place before we have an effective system which is able to contribute to economic transformation. The Manifesto outlines the issues and a 10 point plan for tackling them. In our supporting documents we do address the Marsden Fund and do recommend a trebling of the fund but it is my impression that most signatories to the Open Letter will also be concerned about the wider issues we have tackled in the NSP. We hope that the research community will engage in wide ranging discussion of these issues and that together we can engage with all stakeholders to achieve better outcomes for NZ. At the end of the day this is not just about better opportunities for scientists but a more prosperous future for all New Zealanders.


You may have already seen or heard news releases and discussion groups on TV, radio and the press. We are working through these issues with government and many other stakeholders. Please read the Manifesto.



Jeff Tallon

P.S. There will be launch events in a number of other centres through NZ. These are part of the RSNZ “New Horizons” roadshow.