The role of the Treaty in science and consultation with Maori: columnist sparks heated debate

The latest shots in a debate triggered by science writer Bob Brockie have been fired today by Dame Anne Salmond, Distinguished Professor of Māori Studies and Social Anthropology at the University of Auckland and Vice-President (Humanities and Social Sciences), Royal Society Te Apārangi,

One of Dr Brockie’s targets was the work of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the establishment of Te Whāinga Aronui o Te Apārangi.

This body is chaired by Dame Anne as Vice-President (Social Sciences and Humanities), who serves on the Royal Society Te Apārangi Council.

The forum provides advice to the society on matters of concern to the humanities and social sciences community and responds, on request, with advice on humanities and social sciences issues.

The Presidents (or their nominees) of the several constituent organisations contribute to the forum. These organisations are listed HERE.

They include the Australian and New Zealand Communications Association; Institute of Registered Music Teachers of New Zealand; Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia; Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa/New Zealand; and Sociological Association of Aotearoa NZ. 

Dr Brockie contends some from “the art world” believe there are no such things as facts; rather, there are

… just different opinions about facts, ambiguity is OK, everybody’s opinions are of equal value, whether of a quantum physicist or a Stone Age nobody, and that other people’s beliefs and opinions must never be questioned (thereby committing the sin of “decontextualisation” aka political incorrectness).

Some humanities grandees badmouth the intellectual gains of the Enlightenment and would knock science off its perch.

Te Whāinga has called for the Royal Society “to place the Treaty of Waitangi centrally, and bring alongside that inequity and diversity issues in a holistic manner“. Dr Brockie argues the Treaty has no place in scientific endeavour.

His second target is the Otago University requirement that Ngāi Tahu must be consulted about “all areas of research” before scholars undertake their work. All proposals must be submitted to the Office of Māori Development.

Continue reading


Royal Society video: mitigating climate change with Professor Jim Skea

Committee on Climate Change portraits - 24/9/08.

 Professor Jim Skea

The Royal Society Te Apārangi has posted this video for those who didn’t make it to the public lecture by Professor Jim Skea in Wellington on March 21, “Climate change: stormy weather ahead”.  

Professor Skea, Chair of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London and Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III, presented the lecture at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand’s Soundings Theatre.

Professor Skea was on his way to Christchurch for a meeting for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land, one of three Special Reports the panel will publish in the next two years.

In this talk, he discusses what we know about climate change (from the IPCC’s fifth Assessment Report), how the Paris Agreement is lifting ambition, the new questions being posed for the IPCC sixth Assessment cycle, carbon targets and budgets in the UK, plus his  own thoughts on the Zero Carbon bill.

The facilitator was Ralph Sims, Professor of Sustainable Energy at Massey University and chair of the Royal Society Te Apārangi panel that produced Climate Change Mitigation Options for New Zealand in 2016.

Promoting the lecture, the Royal Society noted that New Zealand had just recorded the hottest January on record and experienced severe weather events causing flood and coastal damage throughout the country.

The society also noted that the United States plan to cease participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement raised the question of whether the rest of the world would be able to manage the responsibility of mitigating climate change without the world’s largest economy.

Source:  Royal Society Te Apārangi

James Cook Research Fellowships: 2018 round is now open

Applications are being invited for the James Cook Research Fellowships, administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

The fellowships are awarded to researchers who have achieved national and international recognition in their area of scientific research.

They allow researchers to concentrate on their chosen research for two years without the additional burden of administrative and teaching duties.

The funding package annually is $100,000 plus GST and up to $10,000 plus GST in relevant expenses. It is expected that a major piece of research will be undertaken that will benefit New Zealand and advance research in the particular science.

For the 2018 round, fellowships are available in the following research categories:

• Biological sciences (including biotechnology)
• Health sciences
• Physical sciences (including chemical sciences; geosciences, mathematical and information sciences)

Applications close on Friday 11 May.

Further information is available HERE.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi

Royal Society Te Apārangi supports joint statement on climate change by Commonwealth academies of science

Royal Society Te Apārangi has joined science leaders from around the Commonwealth to call on their heads of government to use the best available evidence to guide action on climate change.

The call is part of a Consensus Statement on Climate Change, launched yesterday by several national academies and societies of science from around the Commonwealth, ahead of next month’s Commonwealth summit in Britain.

The statement, which is drawn from the consensus views of tens of thousands of scientists, marks the first time Commonwealth academies have come together to urge their governments to take further action to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases emissions during the second half of the 21st Century.

The president of Royal Society Te Apārangi, Professor Richard Bedford, said the greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments agreed to by 160 parties in the 2015 Paris Agreement are only the first step in a long journey.

“Even if all the country commitments from the Paris Agreement are met, the latest data shows that by the end of the century the global climate is likely to be 3°C above pre-industrial levels,” Professor Bedford said.

“This is substantially higher than the Paris target to limit warming to less than 2°C, and would have profound impacts affecting billions of people throughout the world.

“Here in the South Pacific, we are acutely aware of the risks of climate change and sea level rise to our Pacific Island neighbours and we urge all nations to take immediate action on climate change.”

Sustainability is one of the key themes to be discussed by Commonwealth leaders at the 2018 Commonwealth summit, with a particular focus on the resilience of developing and vulnerable countries to climate change.

“Recognising different capacities, challenges and priorities, the approaches of each nation will not be the same. But, they must be informed by the best available scientific evidence, monitoring and evaluation,” Professor Bedford said.

“In recent years we have produced three scientific reports on climate change in New Zealand, focussed on implications, opportunities for mitigation and the impacts on health, and Royal Society Te Apārangi stands ready to assist the New Zealand Government, and indeed broader Commonwealth efforts, by providing sound scientific advice on issues relating to climate change.”

Readers can view the Commonwealth Science Academies Consensus Statement on Climate Change [PDF 580.23 kb], including the list of signatories by country, and a video on the Consensus Statement and a video of Royal Society Te Apārangi support for the statement.

Follow and share with the hashtag #ClimateAction on social media.

You can also view recent reports and activities on climate change in New Zealand by Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi.



Expressions of interest called for Catalyst Fund reviewers

The Royal Society Te Apārangi is calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from experienced individuals wishing to assist with the assessment of proposals submitted to Catalyst: Leaders and Catalyst: Seeding.

Reviewers assist in the evaluation of proposals across all disciplines, and are required to have experience in one or more of the following categories:

  • a high level of professional expertise in a relevant field of science, technology or the humanities, and accompanying capacity to assess applications from a broad variety of research disciplines
  • understanding the key attributes that underpin high-performing international research collaborations
  • understanding the Government’s strategic priorities for New Zealand research.

The Catalyst Fund was established to support activities that initiate, develop and foster collaborations leveraging international science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit.

It has four funding streams:

  • Catalyst: Influence
  • Catalyst: Leaders
  • Catalyst: Seeding
  • Catalyst: Strategic

Some  fund programmes are administered by the Health Research Council and the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

Prospective reviewers for the programmes administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand are asked to complete the brief Expression of Interest Form available online and submit to the Society along with their  CVs.

EOIs must be received no later than 5pm, Thursday 29 March 2018 to be considered in support of the current funding round.

The Society says it aims to ensure that each reviewer will review a maximum of 25 proposals, and that the review activity will not take more than one day.

More information on the Catalyst Fund Reviewer EOI can be found here. 

For submissions, related queries or further information, the Royal Society Te Apārangi Research Funding (International) team can be contacted at

 Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi

2018 science medals and awards – Royal Society is calling for nominations

The call for nominations for medals and awards being offered in 2018 by the Royal Society Te Apārangi – which was opened in mid-December – will close on 30 April.

The Academy Executive Committee is focused on increasing the diversity of nominations from under-represented groups, particularly with respect to gender, ethnicity and employment context.

  • Callaghan Medal – for outstanding contribution to science communication, in particular raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress;
  • Cooper Award – for emerging researchers in technology, applied sciences, and engineering research in New Zealand, awarded annually;
  • Dame Joan Metge Medal – for excellence and building relationships in the social science research community,
  • Hamilton Award – for the encouragement of early-career researchers currently based in New Zealand for scientific  research in New Zealand
  • Hatherton Award – for the best scientific paper by a PhD student at any New Zealand University in chemical sciences, physical sciences, or mathematical and information sciences
  • Hector Medal – for outstanding work in chemical, physical sciences, or mathematical and information sciences
  • Hercus Medal – for excellence in molecular and cellular sciences, biomedical science or clinical science and public health
  • Hutton Medal – for significantly advancing understanding in animal sciences, earth sciences or plant sciences
  • Jones Medal – is awarded biennially, for lifetime achievement in pure or applied mathematics or statistics by a person with substantial connections to New Zealand.
  • MacDiarmid Medal – for outstanding scientific research that demonstrates the potential for application to human benefit. Nominations of teams welcome.
  • Pickering Medal – to recognise excellence and innovation in the practical applications of technology. Nominations of teams welcome.
  • Rutherford Medal – for exceptional contributions to New Zealand society and culture through activities in the broad fields of science, mathematics, social science, and technology
  • Te Puāwaitanga Award – in recognition of research that has made an eminent and distinctive contribution to Te Ao Māori and Indigenous knowledge (new medal for 2018)
  • Thomson Medal – for outstanding contributions to the organisation, support and application of science and/or technology in New Zealand.

You can email Academy ( to submit a new nomination. An URL will be provided to access the web portal.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi

Professor Jim Skea to deliver public lecture on mitigating climate change

Committee on Climate Change portraits - 24/9/08.

Professor Jim Skea. 

The Royal Society Te Apārangi is to host Scottish Professor Jim Skea, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for a free public lecture to ascertain what science is telling us about the actions we can collectively take to reduce the rate of climate change.

The society notes the country’s recent experience with record high temperatures and severe weather events causing flood and coastal damage.

Professor Skea will discuss whether situations like these clearly relate to the effects of global warming.

Moreover, following the announcement that the United States plan to cease their participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, he will offer policy and practical guidance into how New Zealand and the rest of the world need to manage the responsibility of mitigating climate change.

Professor Skea is the Chair of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London and Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III, the branch of the IPCC that looks at the actions which can be taken to reduce the rate of climate change.

A meeting for the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land, one of three Special Reports that the IPCC will publish in the next two years, is being held in Christchurch the week starting 26 March 2018.

A video recording of this lecture will be made available shortly after the event.

  • Climate change: stormy weather ahead
  • Wellington | Te Papa, Soundings Theatre
  • 6pm Wednesday 21 March.

You can register here.