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Hodgson Welcomes Major Science Investment

Science Minister Pete Hodgson today welcomed a major new investment in New Zealand's science infrastructure by the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

EQC is contributing $5 million a year for at least 10 years to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, a Crown Research Institute, to upgrade the national surveillance system for geological hazards.

The GeoNet initiative will upgrade seismographs, Global Positioning System equipment, chemical equipment and seismic recorders. These are used to monitor, analyse or provide warning of earthquakes and volcanic unrest.

"This is an outstanding example of an enterprising research institute finding a forward-thinking partner in another sector, in this case insurance," Mr Hodgson said. "It is a reminder of the far-reaching value of science and the potential for science investment links throughout the economy."

Mr Hodgson said EQC's investment would in time produce some of the best seismic data in the world. It would also allow some science funding used for maintaining the existing surveillance network to be invested instead in further geological hazard research.

"New Zealand earth scientists are already world leaders in geological hazard research. The improvement in data available from GeoNet will help keep them ahead of the pack.

"Geological hazard expertise is both an international drawcard and a valuable export for New Zealand science. This investment will help maintain that strength."

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