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Tertiary strategy key to nation's future – Maharey

21 August 2001 Media Statement

Tertiary strategy key to nation's future – Maharey

New Zealand must link its tertiary education and research institutions to the levers of economic and social development if we are to have any future as a prosperous and succesful nation, says Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey.

Speaking in Auckland Mr Maharey said that New Zealand had failed to build the foundations for prosperity over recent decades because it had not consistently followed a strategy which built the nation's innovation infrastructure.

"This has to change. If we are to become a nation that uses knowledge in all we do, we have to invest in information technology, research and development, innovation, skills training, lifting educational levels and ensuring New Zealanders learn what they need to function in a global environment.

"We also have to decide what we have competitive advantages in. In the context of globalisation there is no sense in New Zealand trying to be the best at everything. We need to play to our strengths.

"We need to decide where to invest. In my opinion land-based industries like fishing, agriculture, aquaculture are obvious points of leverage. So too are tourism and the new industries like film that rely on our unique location," Steve Maharey said.

Mr Maharey urged his audience to get personally involved in the debate about the future.

"We have been treading water as a nation for a long time. Since the 1960's New Zealand has been aware of the need to become a very different economy. Some change has occurred, but obviously not enough. We used to be third in the OECD, now we are ranked twentieth.

"To improve it is essential that we make the transition from a complacent nation to a learning nation which builds on its competitive advantages," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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