Oh, the lengths local government councillors will go to in their efforts to avoid causing cultural offence.
When a spat broke out among Wellington City Councillors over the appropriateness of mentioning a Māori god in a document on the city’s climate change plan, some ducked for cover.
Perhaps they recall the row that erupted – and the accusations of racism that flew – when scientist Bob Brockie questioned the role of the Treaty of Waitangi and the incorporation of Maori spiritual beliefs in this country’s scientific endeavours.
Several questions are raised by the development of a “charter” to set out the principles to guide “sound research” practice in New Zealand.
The Royal Society has announced the formation of a working group to develop the charter with support from research funding agencies, bodies representing different types of research organisations and the Royal Society.
Dr John Hay, appointed independent chair of the working group, says the task is to develop the proposed charter within 12-18 months.
One aim of the charter “is to provide clarity to all researchers and research organisations on expectations for sound research practice”.
The charter will foster “a culture of collective responsibility” for maintaining good research practice, set out what sufficient compliance looks like and support cohesive research teams working across many research organisations.
Federated Farmers issued no press release – at least, none we can find – to confirm it has withdrawn legal challenges against local authorities over the regulation of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs).
News of the decision was reported by the Sunday Star-Times: national president Katie Milne confirmed to the newspaper that the feds had pulled out of all cases they were challenging, but would “just keep assessing it” in the future.
Whether this should halt public debate of the issue – and to what extent the scientists should be constrained – is a good question.
Yes, there other more immediate issues to occupy Federated Farmers’ resources – Mycoplasma bovis and compensation for farmers whose stock is being slaughtered to halt its spread, for example.
But Fairfax science writer Bob Brockie today is calling for the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, to do for GE what he did for P and clear up the myths.