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Crazy & Ambitious Conference 2017

Media release from the National Science Challenge for New Zealand’s Biological Heritage

Date of issue: 4 May 2017

For immediate release

Crazy & Ambitious 2017

The New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge kicks off its inaugural conference at Te Papa, Wellington next week.

Taking place May 8–10, Crazy & Ambitious 2017 brings together an inspiring line-up of nationally and internationally recognised speakers with sessions on biosecurity, indigenous values, Predator-Free NZ 2050, gene editing technologies, ecosystem restoration, and public participation in protecting New Zealand’s biological heritage, as well as a full day summit on threatened species hosted by the Department of Conservation. The Minister of Science and Innovation, Hon Paul Goldsmith, will address the conference at the end of the first day.

“The Challenge integrates a wide range of science disciplines, business and industry, government and NGOs, all working to enhance and restore New Zealand’s land-based and freshwater ecosystems — on the conservation estate and in private ownership — and the conference reflects that diversity”, says Challenge Director and conference convenor Dr Andrea Byrom.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry will open the conference’s third and final day with the launch of the Draft Threatened Species Strategy – a call to action for the nation to safeguard our threatened native species and restore them to healthy populations – followed by other conservation announcements as the day proceeds.

A Threatened Species Summit, hosted by DOC’s Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki, will follow the launch of the Draft Threatened Species Strategy.

Nicola says New Zealand’s native plants and animals are ancient, unique and found nowhere else in the world, but more than 3000 are classified as ‘threatened’ or ‘at risk’ and the 800 species classified as threatened face the risk of extinction.

“The Threatened Species Summit will provide a forum to discuss this urgent issue, bringing together relevant and passionate speakers including Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner, heads of business, NGOs and farming representatives to debate the challenges and opportunities for protecting our most threatened plants and animals.

“New Zealanders identify strongly with a connection to our native wildlife and wild places. With this summit, we aim to inspire people to take action to secure the future of our native species”, says Nicola.

The Conference includes a notable line up of keynotes, including: 2

• • Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment — Taonga of an island nation: saving New Zealand’s native birds

• • Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, University of Alberta — Decolonizing Science & Technology

• • Sandy Liebhold, Research entomologist, USDA Forest Service, West Virginia — International collaborations for managing insect incursions

• • Fiona Carswell, Chief Scientist, Landcare Research — shaping NZ’s bioheritage research

• • Nigel French, Professor, Massey University — How the revolution in pathogen genomics is informing biosecurity, food safety and public health in New Zealand

• • Andrew Young, Director of National Research Collections, CSIRO — Biological collections: Essential biodiversity research tools for the 21st Century

• • Joshua Viers, Associate Professor, University of California — Black Swan-Brown River: How a free-flowing river transformed California’s approach to river management

• • Kevin Prime, Environment Commissioner, farmer, conservationist, forester and beekeeper — What is kaitiakitanga?

Crazy & Ambitious online

• • Twitter — @ BioHeritage_NZ (Join and follow the conversation with hashtag #crazyambitious)

• • Facebook —

• • Conference website —

About the National Science Challenge for New Zealand’s Biological Heritage

The Challenge, hosted by Landcare Research, aims to enhance and restore New Zealand’s land-based and freshwater ecosystems – on the conservation estate or in private ownership – by deepening our understanding of which species we have, seeking science-based solutions to dealing with pest, weed and pathogen threats, and encouraging public participation in science. For more information about the National Science Challenge for NZ’s Biological Heritage, go to

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