Shaun Hendy #nofly2018 update

Shaun Hendy #nofly2018 update

As many of you will be aware, our director Shaun Hendy has been travelling a lot differently this year. Despite being a frequent domestic and international traveller, Shaun decided that for 2018 he would set an example and highlight his concern about climate change by not using air travel for the entire calendar year. The hashtag #nofly2018 was born and, from the first day in January, he has walked the talk – effectively turning his back on flying as a means to get around, favouring instead modes of land transport that emit less carbon.

Various news outlets have covered Shaun’s journey over the year, including Radio New Zealand and the New Zealand Herald. So, now that we’re into September, how is he getting on? Well, very impressively according to the stats. By mid-September 2017, Shaun had made 10 return flights from Auckland to Wellington, at a cost of 2.66 metric tonnes of CO2 (equivalent)*. So far this year he has been to Wellington and back six times (once by car, three times by train, and twice by bus) at a cost of just 0.458 metric tonnes of CO2 (equivalent)*. What is more he’s got more done in Wellington this year: in 2017 his 10 flights gave him 10 business days in Wellington, while in 2018 he has had 21 working days down the capital.

Not flying has its advantages

In addition to reducing his carbon footprint, Shaun says one of the great advantages to taking it slower by road or rail is that you can actually get a lot of work done on the way and plan in more meetings with investigators in one trip. Te Pūnaha Matatini, a national Centre of Research Excellence, has investigators spread across New Zealand.

“Over the last two weeks [for example] I have travelled #nofly2018 style from Auckland to Queenstown and back again,” said Shaun. “It was great to catch up with a number of investigators on the way through. I spent a beautiful sunny day at the University of Canterbury, catching up with [Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators] Alex James, Jeanette McLeod, Mike Plank, and Audrey Lustig, as well as dropping by to see Rebecca Turner at Scion. The conversations that day were very timely as I have gotten involved with MPI’s Mycoplasma Bovis Eradication Science Advisory Group to help them think about how they can use the various data sets they have at their disposal.”

Electric vehicles becoming more feasible

On his most recent trip, Shaun was also sponsored by Yoogo Share, an electric vehicle share company that has 100 electric vehicles based in eight locations in Christchurch.

“They lent me one of their Hyundai IONIQ’s for five days,” said Shaun. “I had about 1,000km to drive, including the odd hill or two. The IONIQ doesn’t yet have the range of a petrol vehicle. Depending on the terrain, you’ll get around 100-160 km between charges, although running the heater will shave 10-15% off this. A fast charge takes around 15 minutes and will boost your battery up to about 80% capacity, but if you’ve got another 10 minutes or so you can charge it up to 95%.”

Luckily, there is a growing network of charging stations across New Zealand, which means electric vehicle users can get to most places without too much trouble.

“From Christchurch, I charged up at Geraldine, then Tekapo, followed by a big charge at Twizel to make sure I made it over the Lindis pass, and then a final top up in Cromwell,” said Shaun. “The IONIQ was great to drive – I had no problems taking it up over the Crown Range Rd. Definitely give it a go next time you are in Christchurch.”

Follow Shaun on Twitter for #nofly2018 updates!

Keep up-to-date with Shaun Hendy’s travels on Twitter by following the #nofly2018 hashtag.

*Calculated using the Enrivo-Mark Travel Emissions Calculator.

New report shows mothers take pay cut to have a baby

New report shows mothers take pay cut to have a baby

A new report co-authored by Dr Isabelle Sin, Te Pūnaha Matatini Principal Investigator from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research (pictured), has revealed that mothers experience an average 4.4% wage decrease after having a baby.

The report’s findings made the front page of the New Zealand Herald print edition, with commentary from Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles – also a Te Pūnaha Matatini Principal Investigator – and her husband and mathematician Professor Steven Galbraith, both from the University of Auckland. Check out the article here. Isabelle Sin was also interviewed on RNZ’s Nine To Noon – listen in here.

Sally Davenport MNZM

Sally Davenport MNZM

What better news to start the year than one of our Principal Investigators featuring on the 2018 New Year Honours List?

Sally Davenport, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at Victoria University of Wellington, Director of the ‘Science for Technological Innovation’ National Science Challenge and Commissioner at the New Zealand Productivity Commission, has made the list in becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to science.

Since beginning her career as a science and technology lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington in 1991, Sally has certainly emerged as one the country’s strongest voices and most passionate leaders in the fields of science, technology, management and innovation.

Well done Sally. All of us here at Te Pūnaha Matatini extend our warmest congratulations for your thoroughly well-deserved appointment. Read more about Sally here.

Te Pūnaha Matatini scholar in the news

Te Pūnaha Matatini scholar in the news

Te Pūnaha Matatini Whānau PhD student Caleb Gemmell from the University of Auckland was recently interviewed by the NZ Herald about his ground-breaking research using social network analysis to examine ancient artefact movement in pre-European New Zealand.

Supervised by Principal Investigators Dion O’Neale and Thegn Ladefoged, Caleb’s research stems from work being done in a larger study funded by a Marsden grant.

To read the NZ Herald article and find out more about Caleb’s research, please see here.

Sexism and the gender pay gap – data that can’t be ignored

Sexism and the gender pay gap – data that can’t be ignored

A recent study by researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research provides strong, definitive evidence that sexism is mostly to blame for the gender pay gap in New Zealand.

The study found that, on average, women in New Zealand’s workforce are paid 84 cents for every $1.00 a man earns, despite there being no statistically significant difference in productivity levels between male and female employees.

“This study is different to most previous wage gap studies in that it tests whether men and women are paid different wages for adding the same amount of value to their employer,” said lead researcher Dr Isabelle Sin, Fellow at Motu and Principal Investigator at Te Pūnaha Matatini.

Motu study dispels some common arguments

Lead study researcher Dr Isabelle Sin, Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and Principal Investigator, Te Pūnaha Matatini.

The researchers analysed New Zealand tax data for 50 per cent of the working population from 2001 to 2011, to determine how much of the overall difference between women and men’s pay could be attributed to women being employed in industries that pay less.

“We found that women were over-represented in low-paying industries like food and beverage services, but this explains a mere 7 per cent of the entire gender wage gap,” Dr Sin said. “If you add in the fact that women also tend to work in low-paying firms, we can say that 12 per cent of the overall gender wage gap is due to the particular industries and firms where women work.”

The study then looked at productivity and wages of New Zealand men and women in private, for-profit organisations with five or more employees. Using employee-level data linked to business information, they found that on average, Kiwi women are paid 16 per cent less than their male counterparts for making a contribution of the same value to their employer.

Overall, the data suggest that sexism is a drag on large segments of New Zealand’s economy, with the gender wage-productivity gap as high as 40 per cent in some sectors – in finance and insurance, telecommunications, transport equipment manufacturing, water and air transport, and electricity, gas and water, and rail.

“It’s worth noting that these are all sectors that have the potential for monopoly-created profits and have low competition,” said Dr Sin. “To put it simply, our research suggests sexism is likely to be a major driver of the gender wage gap. What we’re going to do about it is another matter.”

Quality of the data make findings difficult to ignore

Professor Tava Olsen, Deputy Director – Industry and Stakeholder Engagement at Te Pūnaha Matatini.

Professor Tava Olsen from the University of Auckland, Director at the New Zealand Centre for Supply Chain Management and Deputy Director, Industry and Stakeholder Engagement at Te Pūnaha Matatini, described the results as “pretty definitive”.

“There is a gap and [because the study researchers] were able to get firm-level data on productivity, there’s really no explanation for it other than implicit bias or sexism,” said Professor Olsen.

The Motu research is a lot harder to ignore than previous studies due to its sheer size and the nature or quality of the data collected, she added.

“It’s not until you get a really big study like this that you can say ‘Oh yes, there is actually a problem here.’ Obviously, this isn’t the first study to show gender pay gaps, it’s just a very clean one in terms the data they got access to,” she said. “I doubt there are many countries who allow researchers access to their tax data… If you think about it, it’s pretty phenomenal.

“So I think this is quite important research in terms of showing there is a real gap. There is a problem here and it’s not really okay,” said Professor Olsen.

“Hopefully, companies will start putting procedures in place to check themselves and try and start looking at their own gender gaps.”

Sin I., Stillman S., Fabling R. (August 2017). What drives the gender wage gap? Examining the roles of sorting, productivity differences, and discrimination. Motu Working Paper 17-15 Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

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)