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Address to APEC ConnectionsNZ conference

Hon Jim Anderton
Address to APEC ConnectionsNZ conference


- Chair and Cabinet colleague, Pete Hodgson, New Zealand's Minister of Research, Science and Technology.
- Mayor of Christchurch - Gary Moore
- Keynote speakers:
- Professor Alan McDiarmid
- Dr Nathaniel G Pitts, from the National Science Foundation of the United States of America.
- Yoshio Matsumi, from Innovative Technology Business Development Office, Itochu Corporation
- All of the 'Heads of Delegation' and the Research and Development Leaders from 21 APEC economies.
- And the many VIPs and guests from around the APEC region.

The original owner of this beautiful house was Sir Heaton Rhodes.

Rhodes was born in 1861.

Like a lot of successful New Zealanders, he had a habit of trying his hand at a wide range of skills, with considerable success.

He was a successful horticulturalist, agriculturalist, philanthropist and, curiously, a world-renowned philatelist.

He was a celebrated military officer, humanitarian, Cabinet Minister, and - we won't hold this against him -- a lawyer.

He spoke Maori fluently - and throughout his political career, he developed a reputation for successfully representing New Zealand interests overseas.

His biography reads like someone who lived several lives.

In some ways he is a symbol of a part of our heritage that has been very good for New Zealand.

We pride ourselves on an attitude of believing we can tackle anything - "we can do that".

We are far from the rest of the world and comparatively few in number.

Although that has its disadvantages some times, it has some special advantages as well.

As our most famous scientist, Lord Rutherford, said, "we in New Zealand don't have much money, so we have to think."

New Zealanders like to try things out.

We have had to learn a skill of being resourceful.

We are culturally innovators.

We are also incredibly creative.

It's the creative culture you undoubtedly heard about in the success of the Lord of the Rings movie at the Oscars last week. - (Young Farmer and sword making story).

We can bring our creativity to leading-edge biomedical research.

It can be seen in our world class agri-science.

We can apply biological discoveries to our agricultural production with striking efficiency. [story of PhD student at Hort Research in Palmerston North]

We can make breakthroughs in information and communication technology. [Allied Tellesyn scientists in Christchurch]

Tonight we will show off some of our talents to you.

I know you will be impressed by the wonderful creativity and innovation you will see here.

For all the innovation we see happening already, however, it is essential to take the message of innovation and culture away from this event.

With it, the challenge is to promote the importance - the centrality-- of science in our lives and in maintaining and improving our living standards.

The long lives of relative comfort we enjoy in developed countries are the result of political, economic and scientific advances and we must work through ways in which the whole world - developed and developing - can benefit.

All are crucial, and it is pleasing that we are here to recognise the role of science and innovation today.

Higher living standards around the world depend on innovation - and the constant search for improvement.

Innovation springs from good ideas and creative minds.

And it springs from science.

It springs from inquiry and the search for answers.

It springs from daring to ask questions and from the discipline of scientific method.

The opportunities presented by science offer hope for us all if we can place our advancement at the service of all humankind.

Science offers us longer, healthier lives.

It offers us experiences and future possibilities yet undreamt of.

If we can produce more from a given resource, if we can reduce the depletion of resources, if we can find new ways to feed, house, care for, link and thrill the world's population, then we have a responsibility to do it.

We are all here to play a part in unlocking the potential of science, and it is a valuable and exciting exercise.

My colleagues Pete Hodgson and Steve Maharey have spoken highly of the positive atmosphere in the ministerial talks.

We are grateful for the wonderful support we have received as the host economy from our honoured guests.

Attendance at the Innovation Showcase, the R&D Leaders' Forum and the associated business and social events has been very pleasing.

We have been fortunate in securing a top line-up of speakers for both the Forum and the Showcase.

Our thanks go to them and also to those organisations which have provided support.

In particular New Zealand Trade and Enterprise which has managed the Innovation Showcase.

The Association of Crown Research Institutes which has convened the R&D Leaders' Forum.

As a politician speaking to an audience of scientists I am reminded of the old story about the man who walks into a scientist's lab looking to buy a new brain.

He asks the scientist how much the brains cost.

The scientist says, "Well we have a normal human brain, it costs $1000."

The buyer asks about a much larger brain and he is told "it costs $5000, because it is a scientist's brain."

Curious, the buyer asks if the scientist's brain is the most expensive.

"NO" comes the reply, "we have a politician's brain. It costs $10,000."

"How come the politician's brain costs so much?" asks the buyer.

The scientist replies, "Because it has never been used."

Let me wish you a satisfactory conclusion to your conference tomorrow and a safe journey home.


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