What Happens to Our Land and Water from July 2024?

The National Science Challenges end on 30 June 2024. What is happening to Our Land and Water research, our staff and website? Will there be a review of the National Science Challenges? This article tackles these FAQs. Feel free to ask us anything in the comments.

Why is Our Land and Water ending?

Our Land and Water is one of 11 National Science Challenges established in 2014 as ten-year, mission-led research programmes. The Challenges were funded through MBIE to strategically plan and fund research, drawing scientists together from different institutions and disciplines to make progress toward solving large and complex issues of wide public importance. All 11 Challenges were time-bound from the start, and have always been set to end on 30 June 2024.

Our Land and Water was one of the final Challenges to begin allocating research funds, after a long establishment phase where key relationships and research priorities were established. This means that Our Land and Water has had a lifetime of eight, rather than ten years.

What will happen to Our Land and Water research projects?

Most research projects funded by Our Land and Water were contracted to be completed by the end of March 2024. A small number of projects will remain active until June 2024.

Small delays are possible that may delay the delivery of some research outputs, and peer-reviewed academic outputs will continue to be published after the end of the National Science Challenges, due to journal processes and publishing schedules.

Over 1000 people have been part of collaborative Our Land and Water research teams and will continue their important work in new projects funded by other funders.

Where will Our Land and Water reports and resources go?

Our priority is to achieve maximum uptake and use of the tools and resources generated by research we have funded.

Figshare has been selected as the long-term data repository for Our Land and Water (and several other National Science Challenges). The repository will include all technical reports and other research outputs now hosted on the Our Land and Water website. Research outputs that are completed through the rest of 2024 will also be added to Figshare and to our website.

We are also looking for other ‘homes' for our research-informed tools and resources. All Our Land and Water-funded resources are freely available to all, and we hope they will be given a life beyond the Challenge. We have been delighted to share our resources with initiatives including the ACE (Aotearoa Catchment Extension) programme and NZARM's capability improvement project.

The majority of our resources are available under a CC-BY-4.0 licence, except some journal articles which are in copyright. Resources produced by projects that worked with Māori entities and produced case studies are under the licence CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0. We ask that anyone wanting to use information from published case studies with Māori entities engage directly with the relevant researcher and case study entity to discuss terms of use.

If your organisation is interested in hosting and championing the use of these tools and resources, please let us know.  

Can I still access the Our Land and Water website?

All resources will continue to also be hosted (and searchable) on the Our Land and Water website, which will be maintained in a static state from 1 September 2024 and remain live until May 2028. After that, you will be able to access the archived website via the National Library of New Zealand.

Videos currently hosted on our Vimeo channel will also continue to be hosted until May 2028. Videos can be downloaded and added to your organisation's channel (please credit Our Land and Water National Science Challenge as the funder of the research).

Your staff are great, can I hire someone?

They are, thank you for noticing.

There is a staggered end to our staffing arrangements. Some staff members are needed beyond June 2024 to help fulfill our final reporting requirements, which are time-intensive. Here is some more detail about when our staff members will be available, and their future plans:

Katja Bradley, Administrator: Katja will be with Our Land and Water until June 2024. She is keen to move to a part-time Administrator role or similar. Please contact her via LinkedIn.

Shareen Hudson, Communications Advisor: Shareen will be with Our Land and Water until June 2024. She is looking for a next role in communications that combines her comms and project management expertise with her enjoyment of working with stakeholders. Highly motivated by her passion for environmental resilience and conservation, Shareen completed two environmental/science papers at UC outside of her work over the previous year. Let her away from her desk for a spell to visit a wetland, farm or river, and she’s in her happy place! Connect with her via email or LinkedIn.

Annabel McAleer, Communications Manager: Annabel will be supporting Our Land and Water's reporting until August 2024. Her next step will be self-employment, supporting researchers and research users with knowledge exchange and science communication. She loves working with or as part of research teams to support outcomes and impact. Contact her via email or LinkedIn to discuss future projects, contract or freelance mahi.

Naomi Aporo, Kaihāpai Māori: Naomi will be supporting Our Land and Water final reporting requirements until August 2024. She will be moving on to a two-year research project with her husband called ‘Pourangahau: Reconnecting whānau to kōrero tuku iho of alpine environments through tikumu'. She is interested in opportunities to manage and advise research programmes working with Māori communities.

Michelle van Rheede, Operations and Contracts Manager: Michelle is on a fixed-term contract with AgResearch to wind up any Our Land and Water matters until December 2024. She will be looking for a full-time role in operations and contract management in the science, research and innovation sector.

Mark Woods, Rural Engagement Advisor: Woodsy will be with Our Land and Water until June 2024. He will then take a wee stroll (the 3000km of Te Araroa) and explore some of New Zealand’s great freshwater stories along the way. By March 2025 he’ll be keen to re-engage with the primary sector he is so passionate about, and will be looking for role opportunities.

Professor Rich McDowell, Chief Scientist: Rich will be returning full-time to his work with AgResearch and Lincoln University from January 2025, but will start working on science part-time from August 2024.

Dr Jenny Webster-Brown, Director: Jenny will be with Our Land and Water until August 2024, then she will continue with her various commitments in freshwater and Antarctic science, while spending more quality time with her angora goats and in her favorite places in Aotearoa.

Will there be a review of the National Science Challenges?

MBIE does not plan to undertake a full review of the National Science Challenges. However, the Challenges are producing several self-review documents:

Our Land and Water will also be producing some final summary outputs, including a podcast series, and a series of learning modules for farm advisors.

What is next for mission-led research?

The government has stopped Te Ara Paerangi processes (including National Research Priorities) and have set up a Science System Advisory Group to provide advice to the government. A two-part report will be developed, with the first part delivered end of June (reporting on principles, preliminary advice and recommendations), and the second at the end of October 2024 (final recommendations and advice on longer-term changes to the science system). You can sign up for updates.

The NZ Association of Scientists and the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi are collaborating on a campaign to highlight the risks to Aotearoa New Zealand of cuts to science funding. To join the Save Science Campaign, contact the NZAS Co-Presidents.


Annabel McAleer

Communications Manager, Our Land and Water. Text in this article is licensed for re-use under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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