Members' Discussion

Posts and discussion by NZAS members. The NZAS aims to provide a forum for discussion on issues relevant to the New Zealand science. The views expressed in this forum are not necessarily the views of NZAS.

Hard talk about fresh water

While in London for the royal nuptials, John Key took the spotlight on BBC's hardtalk. With a stuffed kiwi on the shelf in the background, a well prepared Stephen Sackur kept coming back to ask questions that the Prime Minister seemed reluctant to answer. During the interview, the conversation turned to fresh water quality, with the "100% pure New Zealand" brand being held up for John Key to consider. A transcript of the section is on the Listener's website, and it is interesting to see how science and scientists are portrayed.

2010 Darfield Earthquake

The Darfield Earthquake struck at 4:36 am on Saturday 4 September 2010. It was magnitude 7.1, and since then GeoNet, the natural hazards surveillance arm of GNS Science, has recorded more than 1200 aftershocks. As anticipated, they are slowly diminishing in frequency and size with time.

I neither felt the earthquake nor was woken by it here in Ngaio, Wellington. I do remember hearing the phone ring at about 7:00am but chose to ignore it and dozed off to sleep again. Some hours later, I determined that the call was from The Kim Hill Show at Radio NZ. In due course I responded and suggested to the producer that they had best contact my colleague Warwick Smith at GeoNet, which they did.

Through the day I listened to the Radio NZ coverage of the event and its aftermath as the nature of the damage became known. The days have since stretched to weeks.

Proposal to enhance access to published scientific research for NZ scientists

The costs of subscribing to scientific journals and databases, and the systems to provide access to these resources, are increasing beyond the capacity of many individual scientific institutions. By purchasing access and systems in consortia, New Zealand's Crown Research Institutes, science oriented government departments and commercial sci-tech companies are likely to be able to achieve better access to published scientific literature than is currently available to each organisation individually. All scientists in New Zealand could potentially access the same resources via a single web portal, creating a virtual national digital science library.

State of the climate

The NOAA/UK Met Office State of the Climate report for 2009 was released recently. There's good coverage of the report by the Science Media Centre .

NZAS President James Renwick was quoted on the SMC site as saying -

“This report, which takes a comprehensive look at the global climate system, and is made up of contributions from authors all around the world (including New Zealand), puts the facts on the table very clearly. All the key indicators show that the world is warming, and has been for decades. The trend is particularly clear in measures such as sea-level, which has been rising steadily for well over a century.

Ministry of Science and Innovation

A message from Lesley Middleton and Murray Bain of MoRST (contact:

Here’s the latest update on the work being undertaken by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (the Foundation) to implement Government’s changes to New Zealand’s science system.

Environmental data policy statement

At the moment, the science funding system in New Zealand sets up a fundamental tension between public and private good. Science providers are given public funding to collect data and develop intellectual property that they are then able to sell as part of their commercial activity. A handy double earner for the organisations lucky enough to be supported by science funding.

Open government and creative commons

In August 2009 the state services commission released a draft New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing Framework, shortened to NZGOAL.

This document recommends that, where possible, government agencies release information using creative commons licenses. These have the great benefit of allowing reuse of information. In the case of science these licences could be applied to data and reports.