In May 2012 the New Zealand Government announced it would fund the National Science Challenges to find innovative solutions to some of the most fundamental issues facing our country.
In February 2013 the independent National Science Challenges panel was tasked with identifying the most significant science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand. The panel submitted its report in March 2013 and in May of that year the Government announced ten research areas (with an 11th being added in 2014) as New Zealand’s National Science Challenges.
The panel also recommended a Science in Society Leadership Challenge as central to the success of the National Science Challenges and the most important challenge if New Zealand is to responsibly apply science and innovation as well as benefit from its investment in scientific research.
In May 2013, the Government formally accepted the Science in Society Leadership Challenge. Six months later the Minister of Science and Innovation and the Minister of Education announced that they, with close involvement from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, were developing a strategic plan called A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara.
In July 2014, A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara was officially launched.
The strategy outlines the Government's key objective to be achieved in ten years (2024), looks at the available evidence on where we are now, and sets out a three-year action plan with three key action areas to make progress towards this goal.
Contributors to the plan
The plan was developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education and the Office of Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.
Many people contributed to the development of the plan, including the Science in Society Reference Group, representatives of science, education, business, Māori, crown research institutes, universities and other tertiary education institutions, as well as museums and other government agencies.
The Science in Society Reference Group
The Ministers of Science and Innovation and Education appointed a refreshed Science in Society Reference Group of experts in 2015. The refreshed Reference Group is composed of a mix of new and existing members to provide continuity and deliver an appropriate spread of expertise across science, science communication and education sectors.
The refreshed membership reflects the new focus, moving from developing the plan to providing feedback on the initial plan, monitoring progress on the implementation of actions, engaging and communicating with stakeholders as well as future development. The group’s new members have strong links to science and to business or industry. The group is expected to meet six-monthly to annually.
Read biographies of the Science in Society Reference Group members [PDF]