Former Prime Minister David Lange once said New Zealand's destiny was to be a theme park (and Australia's, a quarry). “We can surely think and act beyond that,” states Dr Paul Callaghan, the Alan MacDiarmid professor of physical sciences at the Victoria University of Wellington. Callaghan, who spoke on the topic Beyond the Farm and the Theme Park during the recent CIO Leaders’ Luncheons in Auckland and Wellington, says if New Zealand is to generate more wealth without creating further impact on the land and the environment, a path we should consider carving out is “high technology”.
(Click on the box below to view a short slideshow of the event)
Slide presentation: Beyond the Farm and the Theme Park
He cites star performers such as Rakon, Navman, Fisher and Paykel and Tait Electronics, which have built on a platform of physical sciences and engineering capability. They have shown that knowledge-rich physical technology platforms can be based in New Zealand and be as competitive in this country as from anywhere else.
What can be done to seed that process?
At the CIO luncheon Dr Callaghan had this to say:
“More funding and more effective investment instruments are relatively easy to achieve.
“What is much harder to achieve is a culture in which scientific and technological enterprise is valued, where business seeks to innovate, where scientists regard business as a valid outlet for their talents and where children aspire to be scientists, technologists and
“We need our universities and institutes to champion world-class New Zealand science research where only the best will do, attracting the world’s best to New Zealand, enabling New Zealanders to be world-class scientists working in New Zealand. We need to build a science platform that is internationally connected, wealth generating and a focal point for society, hopefully raising the status of science in the New Zealand context.
“And most importantly perhaps, educating a new generation of scientists who are entrepreneurial, communicative and socially aware, a generation seeking lifetime contributions to New Zealand. We need to build active links with the Kiwi diaspora. New Zealand has an opportunity to recruit new migrants and returning Kiwis of exceptional enterprise and scientific/technological talent, in a world that looks increasingly tense and unstable. To be successful we need to be viewed internationally as more than a ‘Farm and Theme park’."
The December 2007 CIO Leaders’ Luncheon was sponsored by Sun Microsystems. A full report on the presentation by Dr Paul Callaghan will appear in the February 2008 issue of CIO New Zealand magazine.
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