Curious Minds

Through Curious Minds, the Government support activities, projects and programmes that work with communities, businesses and educators to boost engagement between science, technology and society. Curious Minds encourages all New Zealanders to ask good questions, solve local problems and uncover innovative science and technology solutions for a brighter future.

Curious Minds banner. Science and technology in Aotearoa New Zealand starts with curiosity.

As a nation, we are generally curious about what’s around us, the world we live in and how it works. A nation that often pushes boundaries and asks difficult questions to find a way to get things done. With a remarkable history of pioneers and innovators, science and technology has helped shaped us.

In July 2014 the New Zealand Government launched A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Maha (Curious Minds) with a ten-year goal aimed at continuing our relationship with science and technology through activities, projects and programmes designed to encourage and enable all New Zealanders:

  • better engage
  • understand
  • be informed, and
  • question what we need science to address and what we do with the new knowledge that science produces.

“You don’t need to teach a child curiosity. Curiosity is innate. You just have to be careful not to quash it. This is the challenge for the teacher – to foster and guide that curiosity.” – Sir Paul Callaghan

MBIE-funded Curious Minds activities, projects and programmes

All the initiatives running under Curious Minds — from the new projects we fund to the existing long-term programmes we continue to support — contribute towards the main objective for Curious Minds.

In this section

A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara

A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara is our national strategic plan for science in society.

CREST Awards

An international awards scheme designed to encourage students in years 0 to 13 to solve problems in science, technology and environmental studies with innovative and creative approaches.

Participatory Science Platform

The Participatory Science Platform was created to support collaborative, community projects that bring together communities, science and technology to investigate locally important research questions and problems.

Powering Potential programme

A partnering programme supporting selected year 12 and 13 students with a passion for science and technology working together to help solve some of the big science issues.

Prime Minister's Science Prizes

An annual Ministerial event that recognises and showcases excellence in science and technology research, teaching and communications.

Rutherford Medal

An award recognising preeminent research, scholarship or innovation.

Science Media Centre

Supporting initiatives that help raise the public visibility of research, the Science Media Centre is a resource for the media that promotes evidence-based and up-to-date research, to help inform public debate on important issues.

Science Learning Hub

An accessible hub that is making New Zealand’s science and technology stories more accessible and relevant to teachers, school students and the wider community.

Science Teaching Leadership Programme

A programme providing opportunities for primary schools, secondary science departments and their nominated teachers to enhance the teaching of science within school communities.

Talented School Students Travel Awards

Awards supporting our intermediate and secondary school students attend international science and technology events.

Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund

The government has invested $1.611m (excluding GST) in 2024 to support 14 projects. The Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund supported the objective of He Whenua Hihiri I Te Mahara - A Nation of Curious Minds by supporting projects that help New Zealanders, to learn about and to engage with science and technology.

Get in touch and stay up to date

Contact us if you have any questions about Curious Minds.


News mailouts: Subscribe now to receive updates on Curious Minds(external link)

On Twitter

@MBIESci(external link): Science policy and investment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

@EducationGovtNZ(external link): News from the Ministry of Education