Te Pūnaha Matatini supporting NZ science journalism

Te Pūnaha Matatini supporting NZ science journalism

Te Pūnaha Matatini is a major contributor to the Aotearoa-New Zealand Science Journalism Fund, which recently awarded $20,000 in funding to several New Zealand science journalists to cover stories ranging from genomics to driverless vehicles to climate change.

This first round of funding received 20 applications, with six projects involving journalists from a variety of media outlets across the country being selected.

“Overall, we were extremely impressed with the range and quality of the applications – from established science journalists to relative newcomers, from a range of media and from around the country,” said the fund’s founder Dr Rebecca Priestley.

Controversial technologies to be covered

Within the fund’s category on ‘Controversial technologies: Should we even go there?’ Te Pūnaha Matatini is funding three projects to a total of $10,000, as follows:

  • $4,500 to Naomi Arnold (New Zealand Geographic article)
  • $4,000 to Simon Morton (RNZ’s This Way Up feature)
  • $1,500 to William Ray (RNZ’s Our Changing World series)

All of the projects are expected to be published by the end of 2017, after which they will be available under Creative Commons licence. Science journalists from around New Zealand will then have a second opportunity to apply for funding through the Aotearoa-New Zealand Science Journalism Fund in early 2018.

“Round one showed that journalists want to work on important science-related stories and that there is appetite to fund them doing so,” said Dr Priestley. “We are looking forward to seeing these projects come to fruition and to working on securing funding for round two.”

How to support the Aotearoa-New Zealand Science Journalism Fund

Interested readers and organisations wishing to support the fund can do so by emailing Dr Rebecca Priestley at or through the Aotearoa-New Zealand Science Journalism Fund Press Patron crowd-funding page.


Dr Rebecca Priestley wins Prime Minister’s Prize – fourth for Te Pūnaha Matatini

Dr Rebecca Priestley wins Prime Minister’s Prize – fourth for Te Pūnaha Matatini

Te Pūnaha Matatini investigator Dr Rebecca Priestley has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize. 

Dr Priestley is a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington in the Science in Society Group. She has been an Associate Investigator in Te Pūnaha Matatini since the Centre was established in 2015.

Te Pūnaha Matatini is one of ten national Centres of Research Excellence. Its research focuses on the science of complex systems and networks, and applies this to study problems in society, the environment, and the economy. Dr Priestley co-leads a project in the Centre that studies public engagement by researchers.

“Dr Priestley is unique amongst New Zealand’s science communicators”, says Prof Shaun Hendy, Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini. “She is not only an accomplished science writer and journalist, she also has academic standing as one of New Zealand’s leading historians of science and has undertaken pioneering work in the study of science’s engagement with society.”

She received the $100,000 prize from the Prime Minister at an event in Wellington today, joining Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Dr Michelle Dickinson, Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Prof Hendy, as previous winners of the prize. 

“We’ve placed public engagement and communication of our research at the heart of our mission” added Hendy, “and so it should be no surprise that Te Pūnaha Matatini has become the meeting place for New Zealand’s leading science communicators.”

Some of Dr Priestley’s prize money will be used to establish New Zealand’s first fund to support science journalism. Te Pūnaha Matatini will also contribute to this fund.

“As newsrooms shrink, it is getting harder for the media to cover science,” says Hendy. “For science engagement to work well, journalists need to be able to take the time to cover science stories critically. We hope this fund will help sustain independent science journalism in New Zealand.” 

Contact: Dr Rebecca Priestley ( 021 917050); Prof Shaun Hendy ( 021 1442349)

Siouxsie Wiles – Blake Leader 2016

Siouxsie Wiles – Blake Leader 2016

Congratulations to Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Acting Deputy Director Dr Siouxsie Wiles who was named a Blake Leader 2016 from the Sir Peter Blake Trust on July 1.

Siouxsie leads the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland. She has spearheaded many efforts to combat barriers for women in science, including running a successful crowd-funding campaign with Executive Manager Kate Hannah earlier in the year to send copies of Dr Nicola Gaston’s book Why Science is Sexist to senior decision-makers in science. Siouxsie has also been praised for her willingness  to speak out on scientific issues of public importance.

Read more about Siouxsie’s leadership skills at the Sir Peter Blake Trust website or watch the Sir Peter Blake Trust video below.

In the media: investigator interviews from 2015

In the media: investigator interviews from 2015

As leading researchers and science communicators, Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators were regularly sought after by local and international media in 2015 to offer expert opinion and comment on a vast range of subjects.

The launch of Te Pūnaha Matatini was profiled by RNZ’s Our Changing World – (Science of complex systems.)

Shaun Hendy appeared regularly on RNZ Nights as a physics correspondent, and was featured in a number of articles across both mainstream and digital media.

Q +A: Auckland’s New Centre of Research Excellence (NZ Herald)

The science behind being part of a crowd (NZ Herald, also featuring other investigators)

Bigger cities make brighter ideas (NZ Herald, also featuring other investigators)

New Zealand’s Economy: Shaun Hendy (Radio Live)

Kiwi brains to help boost homegrown tech innovation (NZ Herald)

Marsden Fund comes under the microscope  (NZ Herald)

We don’t need no innovation (National Business Review)

Ingredients to grow innovation (TedXAuckland talk)

Siouxsie Wiles
is a regular science commentator on RNZ and also appeared regularly throughout the media in 2015.

Building blocks of bias: Lego and gender (TedXAuckland talk)

Michele Hewitson interview: Siouxsie Wiles (NZ Herald)

Flu the next global disaster (Stuff)

Should we be worried about a MERS pandemic? (The Paul Henry Show)

South Korea doing all the right things to contain MERS (Newshub)

Women in Science (The Wireless)

Michelle Dickinson,
winner of the Callaghan Medal for science communication, is a trusted name in science media in New Zealand. Michelle was regularly a featured contributor for NZ Herald, RadioLive and Newshub.

Science and tech: heart disease (NZ Herald)

Trusty sunscreen does hard yards against rays (NZ Herald)

Nanogirl: Would you eat a burger grown in a lab? (NZ Herald)

Why you’re unlikely to see Sonny Bill Williams’ torso exposed again (NZ Herald)

Science and Tech: Self-driving car (NZ Herald)

Science and tech: Michelle Dickinson (NZ Herald)

Scientist slams engineering firm’s sexist advertising (NZ Herald)

Carey or scary? Love of Christmas all in the mind (NZ Herald)

It’s about how much you want to pay (NZ Herald)

Nanotechnology Series (Radio Live)

Technology and innovation (RNZ)

Science Commentator Michelle Dickinson (RNZ)

Nanogirl (RNZ)

Women in Science (The Wireless)

Pierre Roudier
hosted a recurring segment on RNZ Monday nights called “Soil Science” and appeared on TV3’s Newsworthy.

Soil Scientist Explains Why International Year of Soils Is Important (Newsworthy)

Other Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators whose research featured in the media in 2015:

Alexei Drummond

Twelve Questions: Alexei Drummond (NZ Herald)

Smartphone data to help fight the flu (NZ Herald)

Andrea Byrom

Is humanity the asteroid or the dinosaurs? (NZ Herald)

Natural disasters, will we be ready for the next big one?  (NZ Herald)

Ten climate change canaries (NZ Herald)

Predator Free New Zealand (RNZ)

Richard Easther

Twelve Questions: Richard Easther (NZ Herald)

New Zealand meteor: Space rock just a flash in history (NZ Herald)

Kiwi scientist reviews The Martian (NZ Herald)

Battle of the planets: Yock strikes back (Stuff)

Why the World’s Most Powerful Telescope Has Just Been Ruled Unlawful (Gizmodo)

Rebecca Ford

Would you buy an electric car? (NZ Herald)

Spotlight on solar systems (RNZ)

Dan Hikuroa

Traditional Māori myths may hold clues for natural hazards (Stuff)

Iwi shown path for growth (Rotorua Daily Post)

Research identifies strategies for Māori economic development  (Māori Television)

Adam Jaffe

Science funding under the microscope (RNZ)

Marsden Fund comes under the microscope (RNZ)

Suzi Kerr

Paris climate talks – live chat with Suzi Kerr (Stuff)

Climate of Hope – Q & A with Suzi Kerr (NZ Herald)

Age of resilience (RNZ)

Thegn Ladefoged

New research blows Rapa Nui collapse theory (RNZ)

Debate Over Puzzling Demise Of Easter Island Population May Finally Be Over (Huffington Post)

Easter Island’s demise may have surprising new explanation (Fox News)

Easter Island Extinction Blamed on Environment (Nature World News)

Rapa Nui Population Decline: Demise of Easter Island Society Linked To Environmental Constraints (International Business Times)

David Mare

Productivity stats get a nudge (NZ Herald)

Research shows average skill of workers fell between 2001-12 (RNZ)

Barry Milne

New flag survey shows solid majority reject change (NZ Herald)

Expats say let’s keep monarchy (NZ Herald)

Flag options put in front of public before referendum (Wanganui Chronicle)

New Zealand Picks a Challenger for Nation’s Flag (New York Times)

New Zealand Debates Replacing Union Jack Flag, But With What? (New York Times)

Les Oxley

Waikato University professor needs help to transcribe World War I documents (Stuff)

Food poverty’s impact on agriculture (Bay Of Plenty Times)

Dan Hikuroa in the Dominion Post

Dan Hikuroa in the Dominion Post

10080Hikuroa-2“Geologist believes natural hazards hidden in Māori mythology” was the headline for a piece written by Olivia Wannan. It featured in the Dominion Post, Saturday September 12 about one of our Associate Investigators Dan Hikuroa.

You can find the piece here

Pierre Roudier

Pierre Roudier

Want to know how important soil is? Here’s one of our investigators, Pierre Roudier talking to Bryan Crump on Radio New Zealand nights last week on Monday.
To listen to the interview click here

(Photo: This is peat sampled near the Waituna Lagoon in Southland)