Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātau katoa. Ka mihi au ki te iwi kāinga, ko Taranaki Whānui. Ko Te Raukura e tū nei, kei waho ko te Whanga-nui-a-Tara e pīata mai ana.

Greetings to everyone gathered here. I acknowledge the local iwi of Taranaki Whānui. It is appropriate we are here in Te Raukura with Wellington Harbour sparkling at our feet.

I want to acknowledge Sir Rob Fenwick, Chair of Sustainable Seas’ governance group, for the welcome and the rest of the Governance Group, including Sir Mark Solomon. Dr Julie Hall, Director of Sustainable Seas Ko ngā moana whakauka. Liana Poutu, Andrew Luke, Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, the members of the Kāhui Māori for the Challenge. The Independent Science Panel, including those who have joined us from abroad: Prof Eddie Allison from the US, Dr Ian Perry from Canada, and Dr Ingrid van Putten from Australia. Members of the Stakeholder panel. Members of Technical Advisory groups. The iwi and stakeholders who have been involved in the Challenge and who are attending today. Other distinguished guests.

I’m delighted to open this Māori and Stakeholder Session at the Ko ngā moana whakauka Sustainable Seas inaugural annual conference.

The Māori name of this Challenge is Ko ngā moana Whakauka. Ko ngā moana means oceans and Whakauka means sustainable, or preserving, or to be long lasting.

The Challenge’s mission is to “enhance utilisation of our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints.”

This is a particularly important event, bringing together Challenge researchers with Māori and stakeholders to share ideas and an update on the research.

Without the involvement of iwi, and people from different communities and sectors, this mission would not be achievable. That is why I am particularly pleased to see so many of you here today.

Government funding for Science and Innovation

Much of what the National Government sets out to do is fundamentally about raising the living standards of New Zealanders – whether it’s through a stronger and more resilient economy that creates jobs and opportunities for all, or through delivering better public services, such as in the health, education and justice sectors, which improve the quality of our lives, the lives of our families and the community in which we live.

But that’s not all we set out to do. I see a key role for Government in working to preserve and enhance what is special about New Zealand – and in this we often think of the quality of our physical environment, but it also extends to our way of life, our social cohesion, our high levels of trust.

And thirdly, we think of how we, as a nation of 4.5 million people, play our part in the world.

Science and innovation can contribute powerfully in each of these areas. 

World class science and innovation can provide fresh ideas to our companies, our start-ups and entrepreneurs to enable them to compete more effectively in global markets.

World class science and innovation can support evidence-based decision making in our public sector, so that we can spend wisely in health and education, and make sensible decisions around regulation.

World class science and innovation can help us preserve our national landscape, our water, our climate – fundamentally to help us better understand our environment.

And we’re not a nation of freeloaders. Our world class science and innovators can help solve global problems and contribute to our global understanding of the human condition and the world in which we live.

That’s why we invest as much as we do in science and innovation.  A record $1.3 billion this year, set as a result of previous budget decisions to rise to $1.6 billion annually by 2020.

And we invest right across the spectrum, from the fundamental, inquirer-led science of the Marsden Fund and the PBRF funding in the universities to the mission-led National Science Challenges, from capability building in areas of particular interest to New Zealand in the CRIs, to encouragement for business R&D with the Callaghan Growth Grants.

National Science Challenges

As you all know, the National Science Challenges respond to the issues that science can help solve and that New Zealanders have identified as key to the country’s future.

The 11 Challenges bring together collaborative, multi-disciplinary research, science and technology to work on some of the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand.

Some are more focused on that goal of preserving and enhancing what is special about New Zealand; some are more focused on raising living standards or improving our quality of life.

One of the key features of the Challenges is that they are mission-led. They bring the best teams together and are built on strong stakeholder engagement.

They are, in themselves, an innovation in how we conceive science and how we go about it.

This means that everyone involved in the Challenge is passionate about achieving a mission that is crucial to the future of New Zealand.

Sustainable Seas Challenge

The Sustainable Seas Challenge is focused on enhancing the utilisation of New Zealand’s marine resources within environmental and biological constraints.

I want to talk just a little bit about those marine resources. New Zealand’s marine economy is made up of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which is the fourth largest in the World, as well as our coastal environment and estuaries.

Our coastal and marine environments hold considerable potential that can help sustain jobs and opportunities for many New Zealanders.

Our blue economy is already based on sustainably harvested seafood, aquaculture, tourism, extracting oil and gas, renewable energy, and even the salt from seawater for domestic and export markets. New Zealand is a world leading salt producer from seawater at Lake Grassmere, which also happens to be in the focal region for the Sustainable Seas research programme.

The Sustainable Seas Challenge seeks to develop an ecosystem-based management approach to our marine resources. Ecosystem-based management is a holistic and inclusive way to manage the competing demands on our marine environment in line with the values held by New Zealanders.

This approach considers multiple uses, values and sources of knowledge, and combines the needs of Māori, wider communities, and industry, with new evidence from scientific research.

All of this will enable researchers to provide decision-makers with up-to-date information about marine ecosystems alongside information about cultural, economic, social and environmental values. The aim is that the New Zealand marine environment is understood, cared for, and used wisely for the benefit of all, now and in the future.

MPI forecasts export earnings from seafood to reach $1.8 billion per annum by 2019 and aquaculture will drive much of this growth.

Wrap up

That is why I thank you all for your involvement with Sustainable Seas and for being here today.

The work you do is important, and I encourage you to learn about the science on display here, and to engage with each other, to ensure that the Challenge fulfills on its mandate to ensure that our marine environment is understood, cared for, and used wisely, for the benefit of all, now and in the future.

Ka mutu āku korero i konei. Kia kaha rā ki ngā mahi nei. Kia ora tātau.

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