Buzz from the Beehive: Pacific is discussed in PM’s chat with Biden while Nash has ‘Plan’ to transform manufacturing

This country’s relations with the Pacific were the subjects of two fresh statements from the Beehive and were mentioned in despatches from Washington, although nothing suggested Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta would be headed to look up our near neighbours any time soon.

Mahuta’s contribution was to announce the appointment of Don Higgins as the next Administrator of Tokelau.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is first and foremost a Pacific nation. We value the strong and enduring relationships that we have with countries throughout the region, and I know these will only continue to grow,” Nanaia Mahuta said. 

The Administrator’s role is to support the Tokelau Government to deliver quality public services to the people of Tokelau, and to help manage the relationship between our countries.

Higgins will also oversee New Zealand’s development assistance to Tokelau, which is focused on strengthening Tokelau’s resilience to climate change, and includes “major investments” in education, internet connectivity, and renewable energy. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Pacific is discussed in PM’s chat with Biden while Nash has ‘Plan’ to transform manufacturing”

Buzz from the Beehive: Megan Woods signals no retreat from plans to incorporate mātauranga Māori in NZ science system

The news media have made much of the government’s firing a shot across the bows of the supermarket duopoly.

The Government has put supermarkets on notice that they must change at pace to increase competition and be prepared for regulation.

It will introduce an industry regulator, a mandatory code of conduct, compulsory unit pricing on groceries and more transparent loyalty schemes.

Not so much attention is likely to be paid to Megan Woods’ Cawthron Institute Centenary Speech, although it portends some key features to be incorporated in a shake-up of the country’s research, science and innovation sector.

Most contentiously, our Minister of Research, Science and Innovation signalled the government’s determination to further incorporate Mātauranga Māori in the country’s science system and to develop research priorities in a partnership with Māori. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Megan Woods signals no retreat from plans to incorporate mātauranga Māori in NZ science system”

Buzz from the Beehive – and our science minister proudly declares her position on mātauranga Māori

Here’s what our Ministers have been up to over the past 24 hours (at least, here’s what they have proclaimed, announced or disclosed in press statements).

One statement landed in our in-tray around the same time as we were posting our report on the tohunga and the knowledge he brings to the challenge of fog dispersal at airports.  It came from Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, who declared she was proud to be backing mātauranga Māori scientific research.

In effect, she has also declared where she stands in the controversy  that has split the science community on mātauranga Māori and science.

Latest from the Beehive

13 APRIL 2022

COVID-19 research fund for future health planning

Researchers looking at the COVID-19 pandemic are being invited to apply for grants from a new fund.

C-130 Hercules departs for Europe to support Ukraine

A New Zealand Defence Force C-130H transport aircraft departed for Europe today to help partner militaries support Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion, Defence Minister Peeni Henare

12 APRIL 2022

Winter tourism gets a lift with new ski workers

Winter tourism is getting a lift from a Government decision to allow 275 experienced workers to enter the country to support businesses operating ski fields and snow sports destinations.

Chris Black, Ruth Dyson appointed as Chair, Deputy Chair of EQC Board

Recently retired chief executive of the Farmers’ Mutual Group, Chris Black, and former Christchurch MP, Ruth Dyson have been appointed Chair and Deputy Chair of the Earthquake Commission Board.

Government delivering improvements to children’s lives

The Government has released its first statutory Annual Report for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and its third Child Poverty Related Indicators Report.

Proud to be backing mātauranga Māori scientific research

Sixteen projects including a horticultural and food enterprise, a study into intergenerational iwi knowledge, and ways of bringing traditional and modern engineering streams together will receive funding through the latest round of the Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund.

Column Stuff-up – defending science is challenging nowadays but professors were right about Wiles’ allegation

The Dominion-Post – without any hint of a blush – proclaimed in a Page 3 headline today:  Mauri restored to Parliament grounds. 

Really? We hope to see the photographs.

On the next page, a report is headlined ”Media Council upholds professors’ complaint”.

This tells readers “a most serious allegation” (and a baseless one) had been made against six University of Auckland professors by associate professor Siouxsie Wiles.  This had struck at the heart of academic freedom by asserting the professors were trying to stifle opposing views using lawyers’ threats and required immediate public correction.

The article beneath the Page 3 headline says work to rebuild Parliament grounds is starting after the occupation by protesters.

Reporter Glenn McConnell describes a procession and a ceremony which involved poi, taiaha and karakia and the turning of soil

“… to open Papatūānuku and restore mauri to the grounds”. Continue reading “Column Stuff-up – defending science is challenging nowadays but professors were right about Wiles’ allegation”

The Treaty and ideology – the Kiwi way of thinking that is corroding our democracy and debasing our science

As ministerial announcements on the Beehive website make ominously plain, Covid is still with us.    The government’s programme of fusing science with matauranga Maori is still with us, too, although that’s not something you will learn from recent announcements.

Mind you, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Science Minister Megan Woods, Associate Science Minister Ayesha Verrall and their colleagues might be quietly back-pedalling on their concept of a Treaty-based system of science and the way it should be taught.  But this is highly unlikely.

And as long as the Great Science Experiment continues in the ethnocentric crucible of Kiwi biculturalism , the debate it fuels will keep burning brightly.

In this country in recent days, Newsroom has published an article by Professor Elizabeth Rata who writes:

No matter how intense or heated the discussion may be, NZ universities need to address the difference between ideology and science… 

In the United States, Professor Jerry Coyne has maintained a keen interest in the way science is evolving – is that the right word? – in this country.

His examination of specific claims about matauranga Maori and how it can tell us stuff that modern science can’t, or can somehow supplement modern science, has resulted in the past week in these items being published on his Evolution is True website: Continue reading “The Treaty and ideology – the Kiwi way of thinking that is corroding our democracy and debasing our science”

Minister seems oblivious to the defence of science as she pitches public funds into empowerment and a quest for knowledge

Monitoring the Ministers

While the science domain in New Zealand has been split over what is science and what is not, the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation is having a bob each way.

Not her bob – it’s the public ‘s bob.

And not just one bob.  Megan Woods was announcing a $1.6 million investment in a bunch of young people.

Expressing herself in the mix of English and te reo that is favoured for communicative purposes by the government and the establishment press, Woods’ press statement said:

“Getting rangatahi hooked on science is a key focus of this year’s Unlocking Curious Minds funding round, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Megan Woods has announced, unveiling the 13 successful recipients of $1.6 million in Government funding.

“Through the Unlocking Curious Minds 2021 contestable fund the Government is supporting a wide range of really fun, hands-on projects, investigating subjects like nature, climate change, and Mātauranga Māori to empower rangatahi to connect with science and technology in a way that is meaningful to them.

“We know students are far more engaged when they learn about subjects they can relate to. Through activities like participation in Waka Ama, thinking about where food comes from, and personalised stories, we are inspiring future generations to add value to their own lives and as well as that of their local communities.” Continue reading “Minister seems oblivious to the defence of science as she pitches public funds into empowerment and a quest for knowledge”

The philosopher stoned for his defence of science


A letter in defence of science, published in New Zealand Listener in July, was signed by seven professors from the University of Auckland.  Emeritus Professor Robert Nola,​ one of the signatories, specialises in the philosophy of science.  But the Royal Society of New Zealand is investigating him over what it claims are “misguided” views regarding Māori knowledge. Graham Adams reports.


Professor Robert Nola’s bread and butter is analysing what makes science science. This has been his focus for more than 50 years. Yet, he is facing a disciplinary hearing by the Royal Society for expressing his views on science and mātauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge).

Nola was one of seven eminent professors from the University of Auckland who, in a letter to  New Zealand Listener in July, criticised plans to include mātauranga Māori in the school science curriculum and to give it equal standing with “Western/ Pakeha epistemologies” — which means subjects such as physics, biology and chemistry.

The professors acknowledged the value of indigenous knowledge as “critical for the preservation and perpetuation of culture and local practices” and that it “plays key roles in management and policy”.  But (they wrote) while it “may indeed help advance scientific knowledge in some ways, it is not science”.

The Royal Society felt moved to respond with a public statement:

“The recent suggestion by a group of University of Auckland academics that mātauranga Māori is not a valid truth is utterly rejected by Royal Society Te Apārangi. The society strongly upholds the value of mātauranga Māori and rejects the narrow and outmoded definition of science outlined in the Listener Letter to the Editor.

“It deeply regrets the harm such a misguided view can cause.”

Unfortunately for a statement put out in the name of the nation’s premier academy for the sciences and humanities, it seemed to show a poor grasp of what the professors had actually written. Continue reading “The philosopher stoned for his defence of science”

Regenerative agriculture will get funding for research by scientists – dealing with family violence brings Maori lore into play

Monitoring the ministers

Science has been to the fore in Point of Order’s considerations in recent days and it’s been high in Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s considerations, too.

The Government is backing two new research projects to investigate the impacts of “regenerative farming” practices.  This is a contentious issue in science circles, raising questions about  definitions and about the need for zealous champions of regenerative farming to base their arguments on New Zealand science, not on science results from countries with different conditions and farming methods.

O’Connor announced the government is contributing $2.8 million to a $3.85 million five-year project involving AgResearch with co-investment by Synlait Milk and Danone.   This aims to understand how to measure and manage soil health to boost environmental and economic performance on New Zealand farms.

The second project sees the Government contributing $2.2 million to a five-year research project aimed at boosting New Zealand farm yields by attracting beneficial insects to farms using specifically designed native planting.

On another sector front, the government is reporting on the outcomes of money invested in the past:  the construction sector is now the fourth biggest employer in the country and infrastructure activity is forecast to reach $11.2 billion in 2026.

The Minister for Building and Construction Poto Williams highlighted those points while saying the National Construction Pipeline Report 2021 released today shows the construction sector has held up well during the COVID-19 pandemic and the future outlook is positive. Continue reading “Regenerative agriculture will get funding for research by scientists – dealing with family violence brings Maori lore into play”

An ABC of science from Megan Woods (but you might need a translation) portends reform of the sector to lift diversity

Latest from the Beehive

A speech from Phil Twyford, speaking as Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, can be found on the Beehive website today – for those of who relish that sort of thing.

He reminded his Asia Forum audience he has specific responsibility for our trading relationships with Southeast Asia and the Pacific and he addressed them on “the work being done to support economic resilience in the Indo-Pacific” for New Zealand and our partners in the region. 

 But Point of Order was drawn to two science-related announcements, one by Megan Woods, our Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, the other by her associate minister, Ayesha Verrall.

Neither was intended (apparently) to be easily digested by the general public.   

Woods’ announcement was that the latest research, science and innovation system report card is now available, and outlines how the system is performing.

Alas, she couldn’t resist using anagrams acronyms with which she presumably is familiar – but (we suspect) her audience might stumble. Continue reading “An ABC of science from Megan Woods (but you might need a translation) portends reform of the sector to lift diversity”

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