Since the 2016 US Presidential election, it has been apparent elections can play a pivotal role in the deterioration of the information space where our societies consider the most important issue. In Aotearoa, the election matters for two reasons. The first is that elections may focus risks on issues such as climate change and aftermath of the suite of issues raised by the protests on Parliament's lawn. The second is that you, as a scientist or researcher, might want to consider removing your name and address from the published electoral role if having this information easily available to the public may put you at risk. (If so, read on and do this now!)
Our 2022 Conference featured a session* where we compared the experience within research institutions versus journalism in keeping people safe when speaking out about important issues, as well as the mis- and dis-information that has increasingly become a threat.
We came away determined to implement key steps journalists have taken more successfully than research institutions to protect personal safety for those who may be speaking or writing publicly and attracting attention that can shift from mis- and dis-information to personal threats and attacks.
The most universal step those concerned can take is removing their name and address from the published electoral role. The process is explained here, and we have become aware that employers and other authorities may be confused by the requirement for a letter of support.
This is explained here, and we are able to provide a letter for members who meet the criteria. (We've been advised you can email us your application for us to submit with an our letter for expedited processing.) We also provide our template here for employers and other institutions to use.
We have recently become aware of a deadline of Sunday 10 September for the provisional processing of applications.
Please note that going on the unpublished role means your voting process will be akin to filing a special vote, since your name and address won't appear to be crossed off.
The application must be accompanied by or followed by a letter of support like the one above, outlining a basis for risk that is not simply a request for privacy. It can be from an employer or a body like NZAS but cannot be signed by the individual requesting their name be removed from the electoral role.
More broadly, we aim to provide support for scientists engaged in public issues and engaged with media and social media as they do so in the era of increasing mis- and dis-information. Let's begin by getting a better understanding of that a major change in risk has been observed since 2020, and is resulting in unprecedented levels of personal threats, including death threats, against scientists and researchers. These threats increasingly appear to be coordinated and designed to dissuade public engagement of experts in providing information of value to the public and countering mis- and dis-information.
Our Association plays an important, independent role in these actions. Evidence for the step change in the information environment, the magnitude of threats in general, and those directed at scientists, researchers and experts includes:
SIS: New Zealand’s Security Threat Environment 2023
Feature Film: Ms Information https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/ms-information-2023
The Disinformation Project https://thedisinfoproject.org/resources/
RNZ: Undercurrent Podcasts https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/undercurrent-podcast
The most important awareness arising from these sources is the need to keep experts engaged on public issues safe by proactively removing information such as their residential address from general access on sources including the Electoral Roll. Existing cases of threats to individual experts and understanding of the speed of disinformation emphasise that it is too late to do so as threats are beginning to occur or are observed to be escalating.
Another place where names can be matched to addresses is the companies register. This and similar risks can be ameliorated by employers allowing the use of work address for the appropriate mail that may not directly be affiliated with formal roles.
An imporatant step we are working on is understanding how it may be possible to help navigate the many workplace policies that help to keep public facing scientists and communicators safe.
A final step that we can suggest but can't help with in detail is considering your home and personal security.
In closing, it is important to note that these steps may seem to you, your employer, or others as if they are overkill, until they needed. If that day comes, an ounce prevention is worth a tonne of cure.
We've now hosted our election panel, held jointly with the PSA as in 2017 and 2030, for this election cycle. You can watch the video on our page or on youtube. We'll develop a summary of our thoughts. The panel has been covered in BusinessDesk and Research Professional if you have access to these paywalled sites.
We also recommend checking out the Science Media Center's Question & Answer with political parties.
The Marsden, Hill-Tinsley, Shortland and Cranwell medals for 2022 were awarded. More ...
New Zealand Association of Scientists Council has prepared a short article providing some background and perspectives on Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and science, from the point of view of predominantly non-Māori scientists. It is intended for people who are new to New Zealand and/or are interested in understanding why organisations such as the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) support the recognition of mātauranga and its integration with science.
NZAS Council Perspectives on Mātauranga and Science.pdf
After a mammoth effort from everybody across the RSI sector, submissions on the Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways green paper closed yesterday. You can find our submission here as a PDF:
NZAS Te Ara Paerangi Submission (1).pdf
or on our website as an html page.
We also encourage everybody interested in this process to join the Te Ara Paerangi Community Hub, an unofficial website by and for the research community, which has been set up to help people archive and share submissions as this process continues. A fantastic amount of work is being done to envision a better research system and we believe it is important that this remains visible.
NZAS has been calling for many of the elements in the Future Pathways Green Paper. Here was our official release. Read our Renewal Discussion Doc for ideas on how to respond to Future Pathways, to help make the future of science work for the people who do science!
(Originally posted 14 May 2021)
Building back better through a renewal of the science system?
We all talk about building back better after COVID, and its time to talk about what this can look like for science.
Here's our discussion document (link) on renewal of the science and innovation system, also featured in the New Zealand Science Review.
Below is our press release on the subject at the time of release.
14 May 2021
Advances or Austerity: What Will Budget 2021 Bring For Science?
“Many New Zealanders credit science and scientists with the successful strategies that saved us from the worst of the pandemic.” said NZAS President Prof Troy Baisden. “Yet most if not all the nation’s scientists got the message this week that their institutions fall into the broad areas of the public service expecting a pay ‘freeze’. Now is the time to read the signal: will we invest in advances and build back better?”
“Other nations, notably the United States, appear poised to invest massively in science and technology to stimulate their economies. They’re building off wide public support for the biotech that built vaccines.”
“If Aotearoa wants advances and excellent use of science like we’ve seen during COVID, we have to invest like other nations. Instead, our scientists are coping with 30 years of austerity. Scientists are wondering if the current Government’s pledge to double R&D investment is real.”
“If the budget signals no new path for New Zealand’s science funding, this means that smart Kiwis going into science face many difficult years of low pay. Top PhD scholarships were once close to a living wage, but have now crossed under the minimum wage and even under training wages for apprentices. They risk no pay if their work stretches into a fourth year, and then years of gruelling applications for grants and fellowships while juggling short contracts.”
“Next Thursday, the Government’s Budget will let our scientists know if they get their wish for a society that supports them, and the advances they create across issues ranging from health, to climate change, agriculture, and technology. Government investment spills over into society and the private sector in nations with higher well being.
“Australia’s Budget delivered austerity for their scientists this week. If our Budget copies our neighbour’s, we failed to understand that New Zealand science’s emergency response to COVID was a special case. Do we need a renewed and reformed science system that looks and feels like the COVID response? What would this look like?"
The New Zealand Association of Scientists has developed a vision for rebuilding the science system Aotearoa deserves. Here are two starting points that deserve highlighting as we look ahead to the Budget and beyond:
“Scientists are asking whether the budget will bring advances or austerity? Will they finally see the end to 30 years underneath a sinking lid of austerity that has weighed on them and left our international competitiveness on the back foot? What’s needed to build back better? How can we all work together to build the science system New Zealand deserves?”
At the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) this year is a new documentary on Dame Professor Juliet Gerrard, the PM's Chief Science Advisor.
Directed by Shirley Horrocks, Science in Dark Times follows Dame Juliet through three years of dramatic crises, including the Whakaari White Island eruption and the unfolding of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tickets available now for screenings in Wellington November 7-9.
Flicks.co.nz interview - Shirley Horrocks on new doco about the PM’s Chief Science Advisor
Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways, the long-awaited government green paper on reshaping Aotearoa New Zealand’s science system, has been released, and consultation is open now. This is a very wide-ranging consultation covering many issues including the setting of national science priorities, embedding Te Tiriti in the system, addressing science careers and precarity, improving opportunities for mātauranga Māori, research funding and overheads, institutions and infrastructure.
You can find the green paper, supporting documents and a recording of the video announcing and introducing the green paper from Minister of Science and Innovation Dr Megan Woods and Associate Minister of Science and Innovation Dr Ayesha Verrall, on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.
Te Ara Paerangi - Future pathways
MBIE will be running webinars on the green paper on (November 2,3 and 10) which anyone can register for here and future workshops and detailed meetings on the consultation are planned.
Submissions are due 2 March 2022 by 5pm.
Other useful links:
The New Zealand Association of Scientists:
Renewing the Aotearoa New Zealand Science System discussion document
Te Pae Kahurangi – 2020 review of the Crown Research Institutes (CRIs)
The Research Science and Innovation Report 2021
Science New Zealand:
The Value of CRIs in the New Zealand Science System
Pathways to the Future
The latest edition of the report on the performance of the New Zealand research, science and innovation system has been released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The Research, Science and Innovation report – 2021
This is the third report on the performance of the science system since the release of the National Statement of Science Investment 2015-2025
The two previous reports can be found below:
Science & Innovation System Performance Report – 2016
Research, Science and Innovation System Performance report – 2018
Just published for NZAS members a thematic issue of New Zealand Science Review covering presentations at the Feed Our Future conference run by The Riddet Institute in Wellington, June 9, 2021.
Feed Our Future: A New Zealand Sustainable Food Systems Dialogue
Feed Our Future – an opportunity to discuss the science of sustainable food systems- Warren McNabb
Congratulations – Allen Petrey, for NZAS Council
Nutrition comes first
Back to the future food systems – Barbara Burlingame
Healthy and sustainable diets: providing nutrition, not only nutrients – Thom Huppertz
The availability and affordability of nutrition – Nick W. Smith
Discussion Session 1
The current food system conversation
Origin of the current conversation: An exploration of the animal/plant divide – Frédéric Leroy
Producing animal source food with respect for human and planetary health –
Hannah H.E. van Zanten, Benjamin van Selm, Anita Frehner
Discussion Session 2
Food systems impact
Our connected future with the turn-key technologies that are reducing food waste and improving nutrition – Wayne Martindale
Environmental footprinting of New Zealand agricultural products and implications for food nutrition – Stewart F. Ledgard
Discussion Session 3
Changing the food system?
The changing face of protein production – Paul Wood and Mahya Tavan
Consumers are central to any change in the food system – Joanne Hort
Discussion Session 4
Overall conclusion on the audience discussions
Feeding the future: Reflections on the food systems discussion – John Roche
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