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The future of NZ science

The future of NZ science

The country’s brightest minds ponder the future of science in a special issue of theJournal of Royal Society of New Zealand, published today.

The issue, which is accessible online for free during the month of August, presents a dozen articles examining what the future holds for science research in Aotearoa.

Will research funding be allocated by lottery? Can we expect an 18 month weather forecast? Are private companies like Weta Digital going to drive New Zealand’s innovation? These are just some of the questions grappled with by twenty authors.

Issue guest editor Associate Professor Yeoman, who is a ‘futurologist’ at the School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington, explains:

“The volume asks questions about the future, aiming to understand what might or could happen. We wanted to hear from experts in science, those that understood the bigger picture or those that could understand the dimensions and interconnectivity of science and how events could unfold.

"Fundamentally, we were curious with what the future may be and how others imagined it.”

Robert Hickson's article 'Four short science scenarios' certainly wasn't lacking in imagination. The scenarios offer a slightly tongue-in-cheek, sci-fi look at New Zealand's future, foreseeing a lottery system for Marsden funding, a single amalgamated University of Aoteoroa and a cybernetic South Canterbury farm network.

Other articles offered a more near term look at issues in the science sector. Drs Rhian Salmon and Rebecca Priestley, in their article 'A future for public engagement with science in New Zealand' highlight the need for greater collaboration and suggest the establishment of "a brokerage that connects ‘everyday scientists’ with science communication outlets, products, programmes and opportunities."

For a full media release from the Royal Society of New Zealand, links to all articles and a collection of expert commentary go

Applications close today

Media training workshop for scientists
Hamilton 3 & 4 Sept


Quoted: SciBlogs

"The Kiwi genome paper is a good paper, the people who wrote it are good people, but there is nothing in it that could not be done here.

"Indeed, given access to more samples, we could have done a better job of it. We have the machines to do the sequencing, we have incredibly talented people with the expertise to analyse it and we have the people who understand the Kiwi.

"So why didn’t we?"

Prof Peter Dearden on new European research
mapping the kiwi genome

Papakupu Pūtaiao

In honour of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori -- Māori Language Week -- here are some kupu you can enrich your scientific discussions with.

science - pūtaiao
researcher - kairangahau
fault line - ripa hapa
climate - āhuarangi
ecosystem - pūnaha rauropi
microbe - moroiti
voltage - ngaohiko

periodic table - taka pūmotu
galaxy - ikarangi
vaccine - kano ārai mate
DNA - pītau ira

To learn more Māori science terms, check out Pūtaiao Onlineand this extensive list from the NZQA.

Policy news & developments

Road rules: The government has launched a new online training module, Driving in New Zealand, to provide overseas travel agents with information about New Zealand road rules and conditions.

Surgery bus: The Ministry of Health has renewed funding for a mobile surgical services contract delivering health service to rural patients.

Tyre recycling: The Ministry for the Environment has released a commissioned KPMG report investigating economic barriers to tyre recycling in New Zealand.

Nurse practitioners: The Government is committing $846,000 to support an additional 20 nurse practitioner trainees in 2016.

Cancer info strategy: A new New Zealand Cancer Health Information Strategy has been launched, providing a five-year framework for changes to the way cancer clinical data and patient information is collected and stored.

Scimex: Multimedia Hub live!

Hundreds of images available for the media's use with institutions able to upload photos, videos and audio clips too.

The latest addition to features science-related Creative Commons images that will be useful to media outlets looking for stock images to illustrate their stories.

The Multimedia Hub will increasingly be a go-to resource for images relevant to New Zealand and Australia, accessible 24-7 to registered journalists and also the public, who can also access versions of uploaded images.

Science multimedia on tap

"Often media outlets struggle to find imagery to go with locally-relevant science stories," said SMC Director Peter Griffin.

"We've pre-loaded the Multimedia Hub with hundreds of images, everything from native species to generic lab shots. We are also extending the invitation to research institutions to upload their own images so there is quality, highly-relevant multimedia material on hand when the media needs it."

Content featured in the Multimedia Hub will come with a descriptive caption and notes about its intended usage. Contact the SMC to find out more about the Multimedia Hub. We will be adding more multimedia content over the coming months.

Registered journalists and media officers can log-in to access the Multimedia Hub. An easy uploader allows media officers to add multimedia submissions to the library.

If you haven't registered for Scimex yet, go here to sign up.

NZ Police to carry Tasers

The New Zealand Police this morning announced that all frontline response staff will routinely carry Tasers.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the decision is based on research and evidence highlighting the success of the Taser in de-escalating violent situations, and its extremely low rate of injury compared with other tactical options.

Dr Anthony O’Brien, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland's School of Nursing, said the use of Tasers will need careful careful monitoring as it is a significant extension of current policy.

"The perception of the Taser as safe may lead to increased use," he told the SMC.

“In particular, the use of Tasers with vulnerable groups such as people with mental illness and addiction need to be monitored as in many instances individuals with mental illness are the subject of police attention due to aspects of mental illness, not criminal behaviour.”

Prof James Ogloff, Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University of Technology agreed that use of the devices would need to be tracked.

"Once implemented, the police need to monitor the use of Tasers, just as they would all other uses of force," he said.

"All in all, Tasers can provide an intermediate option to police that can help ensure their safety and reduce the risk of greater harm to the target and the broader public."

Read more expert commentary on the Science Media Centre website.

New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:

A tale of two hemispheres - It is a great time to be a climate researcher, but also a worrying time, writes James Renwick.
Hot Topic

Taonga Genomes - It's great the Kiwi genome was sequenced, writes Peter Dearden, but why was done in Germany?
Southern Genes

New Zealand kids monolingual, missing out - Lynley Hargreaves interviews Sharon Harvey about the benefits of bilingualism.
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