25 years of science working for New Zealand
Crown Research Institutes celebrate 25 years of excellent science
Twenty-five years ago – on 1 July 1992 – the Government re-shaped the nation’s science research organisations into ten
Crown Research Institutes.
The milestone of 25 years will be marked across the course of this year by the now 7 CRIs – AgResearch, ESR, GNS
Science, Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant & Food Research and Scion.
Collectively, the CRIs employ more than 3400 staff across 50 sites around New Zealand.
“Two-thirds of New Zealand’s publicly-funded science researchers – outside health and ICT – work for the CRIs, and New
Zealand businesses turn to us for over 75 per cent of their external R work”, said Anthony Scott, Chief Executive of Science New Zealand, the collective voice of the CRIs.
“We apply the best science knowledge to the opportunities and threats for New Zealand. We work with communities, Maori,
local and central government and businesses to provide the science and technology that makes a difference for New
“The milestone of 25 years gives us an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved by so many dedicated people,
past and present, across the CRIs. This is a celebration of their expertise and skill, creativity, and passion to
deliver impact for New Zealand.
“Our task is always to look to the future – what are the opportunities for New Zealand, what are the risks – how can we
continue to protect, enhance and develop New Zealand’s future wealth and well-being?”
A series of events are planned for the milestone year, starting this week with a social media blitz from all CRIs
demonstrating the excellent science making an impact for New Zealand.
In November, Parliament and Te Papa will host events for past and present CRI staff and others who have been involved in
the success of the CRIs. These events will also include public talks and displays.
During the year, individual CRIs will open their doors at various sites around New Zealand and host public and
Anthony Scott says “We work for the people of New Zealand, so we are always keen to listen and engage with them, and to
share our research and how it is applied. The milestone of 25 years is another opportunity to do this, and to explore
the possibilities for New Zealand’s future.”
Science New Zealand promotes the value of science and technology for New Zealand. Its Board comprises the CEOs of the
Crown Research Institutes which collectively employ 3,400 staff, with annual revenues of $677 million. Two-thirds of the
nation’s publicly-funded science researchers, outside health and IT, work at CRIs and CRIs undertake three-quarters of
research contracted by New Zealand businesses.
The Crown Research Institutes undertake science research for the public and private sector in New Zealand and abroad.
They also provide the essential underlying capability in people, facilities and knowledge for the long-term future of
science and innovation in New Zealand.
The Crown Research Institutes are: AgResearch, ESR, GNS Science, Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, and Scion.
Follow them for updates on their work and impact on New Zealand through Twitter, Facebook and their individual websites.
Science sector reforms 1980s and 1990s:
The creation of CRIs in 1992 was part of several reform measures in the science and innovation sector. It included
forming the Ministry of Research, Science & Technology (MoRST) in 1989 and the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology (FRST) in 1990. The government’s objective was to encourage greater R engagement with the social, environmental and economic sectors of New Zealand, increase the level of R across the board, while ensuring corporate discipline and efficiency.
Of the ten initial institutes, the social science institute work was largely absorbed into the other CRIs after two
years; two CRIs (HortResearch and Crop & Food Research) merged to form Plant & Food Research in 2008; and IRL became part of Callaghan Innovation in 2013.
The CRI Act 1992: requires that CRIs must undertake research for the benefit of New Zealand, pursue excellence, be socially responsible
and comply with ethical standards. In doing so, a CRI must be “financially viable” to ensure that it makes sufficient
surplus so that it can reinvest in its people and facilities. The Government’s CRI Taskforce of 2010, under Sir Neville
Jordan, reinforced that objective, stating “the measure of a CRI’s success should be the positive impact it has on New Zealand – be that economic, social or
environmental – not the commercial return a CRI has been able to achieve.”