Deep South National Science Challenge Newsletter

The Minister, Steven Joyce, officially launched the Deep South National Science Challenge (NSC) at the NIWA Wellington campus on 5 August 2014. The launch was well attended, and Prof Dave Frame (Victoria University of Wellington) provided a great introduction to the science of the Deep South.

Establishment of the Deep South NSC

The Science Board of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) approved funding of $24 million to 30 June 2018 to support the Deep South proposal submitted in late April 2014. This included initial funding of $450,000 for an establishment phase.  This funding was subject to the following pre-contract conditions, which have now been met:

  • A budget for the use of the $450,000.
  • Establishment of the independent Governance Board Chair to the satisfaction of the MBIE Science Board Chair.
  • An agreed interim Management Group.

There were also a number of contract conditions that needed to be addressed:

  • Submission (by mid-December 2014) of a detailed Research Plan and Business Plan that refines the proposal research strategy and programme out to 30 June 2018.
  • Appointment of the Governance Board, Director and Management Group.

The interim Governance Group and Management Group  (see Deep South website for membership of these Groups) are currently in the process of advancing initiatives (outline further below) to meet the above contract conditions.  This includes contract negotiations between MBIE and NIWA (as Contract holder and on behalf of the research provider parties to the Deep South), and signing of the Contract is expected to occur within the next month.

The MBIE Science Board also stressed the following points that need to be considered as the Deep South progresses over the coming years:

  • The Challenge needs to stay true to its mission and vision (see the Deep South website for the MBIE approved mission and vision).
  • The Challenge needs to avoid reverting to ‘business as usual’ throughout its duration. This will require rigorous independent governance and excellent management arrangements.
  • The balance of effort between the planned research and the communication, outreach and research uptake activities needs to be maintained throughout the duration of the Challenge.

Governance - Appointment of the Permanent Chair

We are pleased to announce that Roger France has agreed to Chair the Governance Board of Deep South.  Roger’s early career focussed on finance, both nationally and internationally. He was the Chief Financial Officer for Allied Farmers Co-operative Ltd and Freightway Holdings Ltd, and was a member of the Management Board of Pricewaterhouse Cooper. Roger is currently a Director of Air New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation and Orion Health Group, and has been a Director for the Fonterra Co-operative Group.  He was appointed to the Council of the University of Auckland in 2001, and was Chancellor from 2009-2012.  Roger is excited by the mission that the Deep South aims to address, and brings a wealth of experience in governance to the Challenge.   This is an exciting and significant appointment which will help advance the establishment of the Deep South.

Establishment of Deep South Website

Over the past few weeks we have been establishing an independent website for the Deep South NSC.  Clearly the website will require considerable development, and is expected to change and evolve over the life of the Challenge.  One of the primary purposes of setting up the website as soon as practicable was to ensure that we had a vehicle for communicating information about the Challenge to the wider science community and stakeholders. We have established a subscription system via the website for future access to Deep South Newsletters.

Process for Appointment of Director

The interim Governance Group is currently in the process of advancing the appointment of the permanent Director for the Deep South.  Information on the recruitment process and a Position Description for the Director will be available on the Deep South website shortly.  Rob Murdoch will continue to be the interim Director until such time as the permanent Director is appointed.

Appointment of Challenge Manager

The interim Governance Group is pleased to announce that Richard Nottage will undertake the role of Challenge Manager.  In this role Richard will provide project and management support for the Deep South Director.  Richard is currently fulfilling a similar role for the New Zealand Climate Change Centre. As such, he is familiar with climate issues and stakeholders.  Richard will be a valuable member of the Deep South Management Group, and will be assisting the interim Director with organisation of activities associated with the development of the Research Plan over the coming months.

Research plan workshops

Over the coming two months the interim Management Group will be organising workshops and meetings to advance the Research Plan for Deep South that will need to be submitted by mid-December.  These workshops will be based on further developing and prioritising the research work over the next five years associated with each of the proposed research programmes provided in the proposal outline approved by the MBIE Science Board. These workshops will seek input from representatives not only from the science sector, but also climate sensitive industry sectors, central and local government, Maori and communities.  Planning for these workshops is currently underway, and further information will be made available on the website as it becomes available.