The future of NZ science


The country’s brightest minds ponder the future of science in a special issue of the Journal of Royal Society of New Zealand, published on Friday.

The issue, which is accessible online for free during the month of August, presents a dozen articles examining what the future holds for science research in Aotearoa.

Will research funding be allocated by lottery? Can we expect an 18 month weather forecast? Are private companies like Weta Digital going to drive New Zealand’s innovation? These are just some of the questions grappled with by twenty authors.

Associate Professor Ian Yeoman, a ‘futurologist’ at the School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington, and David Bibby, Emeritus Professor at the university’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, are co-editors.

Yeoman explains:

“The volume asks questions about the future, aiming to understand what might or could happen. We wanted to hear from experts in science, those that understood the bigger picture or those that could understand the dimensions and interconnectivity of science and how events could unfold.

“Fundamentally, we were curious with what the future may be and how others imagined it.”

Robert Hickson’s article ‘Four short science scenarios‘ certainly wasn’t lacking in imagination. The scenarios offer a slightly tongue-in-cheek, sci-fi look at New Zealand’s future, foreseeing a lottery system for Marsden funding, a single amalgamated University of Aoteoroa and a cybernetic South Canterbury farm network.

Other articles offered a more near term look at issues in the science sector. Drs Rhian Salmon and Rebecca Priestley, in their article ‘A future for public engagement with science in New Zealand‘ highlight the need for greater collaboration and suggest the establishment of “a brokerage that connects ‘everyday scientists’ with science communication outlets, products, programmes and opportunities.”

* A full media release from the Royal Society of New Zealand, links to all articles and a collection of expert commentary can be found at


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