Biological Heritage Update Issue 16, November 2017

Kia ora koutou,

Planning for Tranche 2 funding for National Science Challenges

Planning is now fully underway for our second Tranche of funding which starts in mid-2019. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, there is a lot of work to do to submit our strategic plan to MBIE in early July 2018. Last week, we had a meeting of all the representatives from our Challenge Parties.

We asked them questions like:

    • How could we improve our Challenge still further?
    • What could we do differently in Tranche 2?
    • How can we strengthen aligned research (for example through contestable funding to Challenge Parties) to achieve the greatest impact for New Zealand?

As a reminder, we currently have 17 Parties in our Challenge: all 8 universities, 7 Crown Research Institutes, and the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation. If you want to know more about our funding plans in Tranche 2, here’s a list of our Challenge Party representatives, so you know who to talk to to find out more information.

    • Tony Conner, AgResearch
    • Marie Bradley, AgResearch
    • Roseanne Ellis, AUT University
    • Martin Kessick, DOC
    • Libby Harrison, ESR
    • Ian Graham, GNS
    • Peter Millard, Landcare Research
    • David Simmons, Lincoln University
    • Simon Hills, Massey University
    • Veronica Herrera, MPI
    • Rob Murdoch, NIWA
    • Mara Wolkenhauer, Otago University
    • Peter Landon-Lane, Plant and Food
    • Alison Stewart, Scion
    • Jim Metson, University of Auckland
    • Ian Wright, University of Canterbury
    • Bruce Clarkson, University of Waikato
    • Alice Tappenden, Victoria University of Wellington

We will be asking each of them to strengthen internal communication within their organisations so that more of you know what our plans are.

And we’ll be rolling out workshops over the coming months, so keep an eye out via this newsletter for more information.

Predator-Free NZ 2050

PF2050 banner

You may have seen that PF2050 (the company responsible for crown investment into the Predator-Free 2050 programme) released its research strategy last week, following a call for proposals via the Challenge earlier this year. Strategy development was overseen by Dr Dan Tompkins (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research; now seconded into PF2050) and Thomas Malcolm (Biosecurity advisor at Waikato Regional Council; and member of the Kāhui Māori for the BioHeritage Challenge).

There are four strands to the strategy:

    • Environment and society will explore social and cultural views about predator eradication, and work to understand changes in ecosystems once the target predators are removed.
    • Eradicating the last 1% will aim to improve existing control tools with the aim of achieving eradication at a landscape scale – with an initial focus on possums.
    • New genetic control tools will explore a range of cutting-edge genetic and genomic technologies for cotrol or eradication of pest mammals, with an initial focus on rats. Partnership with international scientists working in this field will be critical. Both PF2050 and the BioH Challenge have identified the Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents group as a key partner in our work.
    • Computer modelling underpins the PF2050 research strategy, and will develop shared tools that all communities and agencies contributing to Predator Free 2050 can use to design the right approach for their goals and environment.

Science Challenges were established to strengthen collaboration across research organisations, so we always viewed our role as helping convene national teams to address big goals like PF2050.

Te Tira Whakamātaki – the Māori Biosecurity Network

TTW banner

Have you heard of Te Tira Whakamātaki?

The Māori Biosecurity Network was established by a group of biochemists, soil scientists, social scientists, policy makers, kaitiaki, indigenous sociologists, politicians, plant pathologists, iwi leaders, biosecurity officers and whānau who identified a need to embed Māori knowledge, interests and values more strongly in New Zealand’s biosecurity system.

The name ‘Te Tira Whakamātaki’ means ‘The watchful (vigilant) ones’. The Network was established with the aim of protecting biological taonga for future generations by providing technical biosecurity support and advocacy to whānau, hapū and iwi. Māori make a strong and growing contribution to New Zealand’s economy through, for example, agribusiness and tourism enterprises. Their involvement in the biosecurity system is vital for building a sustainable future for New Zealand’s agriculture and economy.

Te Tira Whakamātaki provides a crucial link between scientists, government agencies, and communities. From time to time, the Network releases position statements about biosecurity issues (such as the myrtle rust incursion earlier this year). The BioH Challenge has supported Te Tira Whakamātaki to get off the ground with initial funding, along with the Bio-Protection Research Centre. As part of our Challenge Mission, our aim is to strengthen linkages between scientists, government agencies and communities. Te Tira Whakamātaki plays a major role in helping the Challenge do exactly that.

Our Challenge Māori Manager, Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, spoke about Te Tira Whakamātaki at the Challenge’s Crazy & Ambitious conference back in May.

Te Tira Whakamātaki are also on Twitter (@TiraWhakamātaki) and Facebook.


Some of you contacted us after the last newsletter asking for copies of the publications we profiled. If you can’t access these because of journal paywalls, just email the Support Team and we can send you a copy.

In the next newsletter: more on Tranche 2 planning, and Biosecurity 2025.

Ngā mihi nui,

Video update

Challenge Director Dr Andrea Byrom gives us the short version of this newsletter via a video update.