Woods reminds us she still has science among her ministerial jobs – and she dishes out $244m in grants for good measure

A big hurrah, today, for the first statement from Megan Woods as Research, Science and Innovation Minister since – let’s see.  Oh yes:  June 1.

On that occasion she announced Project Tāwhaki, a special partnership with two rūnanga in Canterbury that would

“…  rejuvenate a nationally unique environment, honour deep cultural relationships, and provide amazing opportunities to tap into the multi-billion dollar aerospace economy.”

Kaitōrete Limited and the Crown had entered into a Joint Venture partnership to purchase critical parcels of land (1,000 hectares) near Banks Peninsula. The Crown  contributed $16 million to secure the land. The Crown and the Rūnanga would each own 50 percent shares in the land and project.

True, there was a science announcement on 23 June.  But that one was made by associate minister  Ayesha Verrall.

Verrall announced fellowships to attract and retain talented researchers in the early stages of their career had been awarded to 30 New Zealanders.

She declared an emphasis on diversity:

“Diversity ensures we capture the very best ideas and talent to support the highest quality research, which leads to better outcomes for New Zealanders.”

This explains why Māori and Pasifika researchers made up 40 per cent of the Fellows receiving funding while 60 per cent of the Fellows were female.

In today’s press release, Woods announced the recipients of this year’s Endeavour Fund.

Sixty-nine new scientific research projects have been awarded more than $244 million, through New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund.

Woods mentioned the government’s commitment to melding science with the Maori belief system (which distinguishes Kiwi “science” from the rest of the world):

“It’s also key that a te ao Māori worldview is integrated into our research. Manaaki Whenua’s ‘Te Weu o te Kaitiaki – Indigenous regeneration pathways’ project is a great example of this. It uses whakapapa frameworks to re-imagine biocultural solutions to restore ecological systems, reconnect people to place, and deliver sustainable economic growth for communities,” Megan Woods said.

The full list of successful projects funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment 2021 Endeavour Fund Investment Round is available here.

Earlier this year Woods announced 16 projects that together would get $3.9 million through the 2021 round of Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund,

“… further strengthening the Government’s commitment to Māori knowledge in science and innovation.”

 This fund supports the implementation of a kaupapa Māori approach to research, development and innovation

“… while ensuring cultural knowledge is maintained, protected and still owned by Māori or iwi.

“By supporting partnership between Māori and the research sector, we strengthen science and innovation for all New Zealanders and our ability to create a better future.”

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