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Budget 2005: $2.26 million to promote wood design

29 March 2005 Media release

$2.26 million to promote wood design

Forestry Minister Jim Anderton today announced an investment of $2.26 million over the next five financial years to help promote excellence in wood design in the construction sector.

"Excellence in design is an essential ingredient in New Zealand's economic development, especially as we move more of our products beyond commodity trading. Nowhere is this truer than in the forest industry," Jim Anderton told the Better by Design conference in Auckland.

"Wood is a very sustainable construction material. We know it is used widely in residential construction but wood is used in only a handful of multi-story non-residential buildings even though recent research suggests it is highly suitable for buildings up to six-stories tall.

"Research also suggests wood results in less greenhouse gas emissions, and is highly competitive compared with other building materials," the Progressive leader said.

Two reasons for the low use of wood in such construction have been identified as the poor availability of specialised design tools, software and manuals compared with other materials and a lack of comfort from many New Zealand designers in designing in wood, especially as steel and concrete have greater emphasis at university and polytechs.

"This Budget 2005 initiative will help address this issue by supporting two timber design professorship positions at two of New Zealand's engineering schools, plus assistant support.

"Funding will also be available to develop supporting software for timber design," Jim Anderton said.

"This initiative has many potential benefits, in terms of increasing our use of sustainable building materials and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Creating top-class design capability in New Zealand will also help develop domestic and export markets for our increasing volumes of sustainable radiata pine products," he said. The investment announced today is part of Budget 2005.

Speech notes follow:

Jim Anderton address to open Better By Design conference
Economic Development
29 March 2005
Topic: Jim Anderton's Speeches

Better by Design Conference, Sky City Convention Centre, 4.30 p.m.


Three years ago I met with a group of New Zealanders interested in design, and I had a message I don’t think they expected to hear.

I told them I wanted New Zealand to become globally respected as a centre for design.

The design profession knew the potential power of the discipline all along, of course.

But I don’t think they had expected a government figure to make an unequivocal commitment to their vision.

So we have done a lot of work over the last three years.

Manufacturers I meet, in particular, are talking excitedly about harnessing the power of design in the development of new products and markets.

The design taskforce has done its work and there has been a series of large and small events.

And this afternoon we are here to open perhaps the most important yet.

But I want to start off with a reminder of the urgency of our work to promote design in New Zealand.

We still have only a low level of awareness about the value and importance of design.

Too few businesses yet perceive the value of incorporating design throughout the production process.

And the Labour Progressive government’s efforts to increase the value of our productive sectors continue to attract critics like pollen attracts bees.

Every one who says the government should get out of the way, is challenging the value of partnerships that make better use of design possible.

When they call events like this Design Conference "corporate welfare," and accuse us of picking winners, they are really saying we don’t need to worry about incorporating better design in our industrial development.

So I want this conference to be a springboard for passionate advocacy of design.

I hope this will be the beginning of a national crusade to unleash the potential of New Zealand design.

I hope it’s the beginning of a celebration of our design talents.

I hope we all go on from here to express, wherever we can, a vision of a design-led New Zealand.

The job is urgent because it offers a valuable future for New Zealand.

The use of design to drive our production up the value chain can offer the sustainable, added value jobs and higher incomes to which New Zealanders can aspire to.

It’s only through the creativity and talents of New Zealanders that we will find our place in global chains, and earn comparable global incomes.

We need to unlock that potential if we are to offer our young a future here.

I recently came across some interesting research by the economist, Angus Maddison.

A few years ago he published a book about the world’s economic growth from 1820 to 1992.

His book pointed out that in 1992, the world had no more land – and far fewer natural resources – than it enjoyed in 1820.

Yet the value of everything produced had grown from $695 million in 1820, to $28 trillion in 1992.

Or to put it another way, per capita production grew from $651 a year to $5,145.

The lesson is obvious: It’s not the natural resources we have which make us more prosperous and improve our lifestyles.

The crucial difference is made by what we do with the things we have.

The ideas we apply to our resources transform our living standards.

The better our ideas, the better our standard of living.

Design is about the application of ideas, and the incorporation of creativity and value into our production.

I want to see the transformation of the New Zealand economy.

I believe we need to lock-in low unemployment.

I want us to offer incomes, a lifestyle and opportunities as attractive as anywhere in the world.

And it will require us to unleash the power of design to achieve the transformation we need.

Today we’re beginning.

These two days will be unique.

They’ve been created by an extraordinarily dedicated group of people, from the private sector – the Better by Design Advisory Board – working in tandem with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The conference features an equally extraordinary and dedicated group of delegates.

They’ve been selected on their potential to transform New Zealand businesses from simply successful to world-leaders in their fields.

Better by Design 2005 has been designed to inspire our businesses.

It’s been designed to equip you to adopt a new way of thinking about your business.

We’ve seen the same approach work around the world.

For example, four years ago Finland committed to a national design-led strategy.

In the next two days you’ll hear from Yrjo Sotamma, one of the instigators of this strategy and find out first hand what this strategy did for Finnish business.

And Professor Sotamaa sees strong similarities between the conditions here in New Zealand and in Finland at the turn of the century.

Just like the other leading international speakers, he’ll be showing us that it is possible for New Zealand to be part of just such a revolution.

But we’re not going to get there by just thinking about it, or even talking about it.

This conference will not just be a talk-fest.

This conference will promote design as a priority.

Better by Design 2005 and the Better by Design programme is built on taking design right up the priority list of critical success factors for New Zealand business.

No longer can we afford design to be an afterthought.

We will never be the biggest player in the global market.

But we can be the best – and enjoy the returns from being the best – by making design a key part of our business processes.

There are no short cuts.

It takes considerable commitment from the private and public sectors working together.

Businesspeople and designers haven’t always spoken the same language.

I know from my own experience of running a manufacturing engineering company that the stereotypes are well-established.

There are stereotypes around design itself. The most obvious of these is the impression that design is decorative, surface treatment, like applying lipstick to a gorilla.

So from today, design and business are, I hope, going to start talking the same language.If we get it right, we’ll be hearing a lot more about design in the boardroom.

We’ll hear passionate advocates of design expressing the value and potential of the discipline.

Government, the Better by Design Advisory Board, and the world-leading speakers here are all catalysts.

New Zealand has a legacy of great ideas and passionate entrepreneurs.

Our challenge now is to harness that energy and commercialise our creativity.

I started off by saying the job is urgent.

But urgent jobs are not overwhelming jobs and we mustn’t be intimated by the challenge.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves.

We can be inspired and excited by the creativity available to us.

We have almost unlimited potential, and we have a young population desperate for us to harness that potential for our country’s future.

I passionately believe design offers a route to a more prosperous future for New Zealand.

I’m committed to promoting enthusiasm for design in our innovative and creative businesses – this extends all sectors of our economy and involves my portfolio responsibilities not just as Industry and Regional Development Minister, but also as Minister of Forestry.

Last December, I became Forestry Minister, having led the establishment of the Wood Processing Strategy in early 2001 as Economic Development Minister.

It is clear that forestry is one New Zealand industry where design can play a tremendous role in its development.

I have been working with a number of wood processors, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, to bring design excellence to the furniture sector.

This work is very promising with at least two northern European furniture designers now interested in working with New Zealand processors.

I am also pleased to announce today that the Government will invest some $2.26 million over the next 5 years to help establish excellence in wood design in the construction sector.

This will be through supporting two timber design professorship positions at New Zealand engineering schools, plus assistant support.

Funding is also available to develop supporting software for timber design.

This initiative has many potential economic and environmental benefits, in terms of increasing our use of sustainable building materials, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping develop markets for our increasing volumes of sustainable radiata pine products.

You know I'm committed to promoting enthusiasm for design in our innovative and creative businesses.

I hope you will join me in becoming fierce advocates for more.

And I wish you well in starting out from this exciting and positive event.

For more information on this subject go to:

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