Survey details

The institutions included all 7 of Aotearoa’s CRIs: AgResearch, ESR, GNS, Manaaki Whenua, NIWA, Plant and Food Research, and Scion. The CRIs were established in 1992 by the New Zealand government under the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992, with the purpose of undertaking research of benefit to Aotearoa. Each of the 7 CRIs is aligned with a productive sector of the economy or a grouping of natural resources. The CRIs operate on a commercial model as stand-alone companies (Crown entity companies under the Crown Entities Act 2004) with their own boards and executives, and subject to the Companies Act 1993. As crown entity companies, CRIs are not expected to maximise profit, but are required to operate in a way that maintains their financial viability. MBIE provides core funding for CRIs through the SSIF fund.

Callaghan Innovation is another form of statutory entity, a Crown agent, that “must give effect to government policy when directed by the responsible Minister”. Callaghan Innovation was established under the Callaghan Innovation Act 2012 and receives Crown funding through an annual appropriation.

NeSI is a SSIF Research Infrastructure that operates as an unincorporated entity, hosted by the University of Auckland, and in collaboration with NIWA, Manaaki Whenua, and the University of Otago.

The institutions


AgResearch leads agri-based science innovation in Aotearoa. It delivers new knowledge and technologies to support the agriculture sector. AgResearch states its purpose as “to use science to enhance the value, productivity and profitability of Aotearoa’s pastoral, agri-food and agri-technology sector value chains to contribute to economic growth and beneficial environmental and social outcomes for New Zealand”. AgResearch has broad specialities including seeds, pest control, high value foods and farming systems. It undertakes research ranging from small rural projects up to large international research projects, all with the intention of benefitting Aotearoa’s agricultural sector.

AgResearch employs approximately 700 staff. It has four locations which include two research centres located in Lincoln and Palmerston North, and two agricultural centres located in Hamilton and Mosgiel, with their head office also in Lincoln.

Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan Innovation is Aotearoa’s innovation agency that provides services to support research and development (R&D) by

Aotearoa businesses. It also works closely with government and research organisation partners to enhance Aotearoa’s innovation ecosystem. Within its services, Callaghan Innovation offers access to experts, technology and product development, and R&D funding. Callaghan Innovation’s mission is to activate innovation, accelerate commercialisation and help businesses grow faster for a better Aotearoa.

Callaghan Innovation employs around 450 staff. Callaghan Innovation has sites in four urban offices: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with the largest being the Gracefield Innovation Quarter in Lower Hutt, Wellington. It also has a regional partner network across a further 14 locations.

Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR)

ESR specialises in science that protects and improves the health and wellbeing of communities. ESR’s core purpose is to “deliver enhanced scientific research services to the public health, food safety, security, and justice systems”. Over the last two years ESR’s public health capabilities have been highlighted through wastewater testing and whole-genome sequencing as part of the country’s COVID-19 response. ESR is the sole provider of forensic services to the New Zealand Police supporting our justice systems, alongside this ESR researchers undertake R&D projects helping to deliver advancements that improve justice outcomes.

ESR employs over 400 people. ESR has four sites located around the country: Auckland, Christchurch, and 2 sites in Wellington - one at Kenepuru, and the other within the National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease complex in Wallaceville.

Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS)

GNS is Aotearoa’s lead agency in earth, geoscience and isotope research and consultancy services. The work of GNS centres around four science themes: natural hazards and risks, environment and climate, energy futures, and land and marine geoscience. Additionally, GNS undertakes investment in data science and social science. GNS provides key capabilities for Aotearoa, including around-the-clock monitoring of natural geohazards (earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes, landslides) through the National Geohazards Monitoring Centre/ Te Puna Mōrearea I te Rū (NGMC). GNS, in collaboration with Toka Tū Ake Earthquake Commission (EQC), also manages the GeoNet platform which operates the geological hazard monitoring system in Aotearoa. GeoNet is comprised of geophysical instruments, automated software and staff to provide the data for the monitoring capability.

GNS employs over 390 staff. GNS has sites across Wellington, Taupō and Dunedin, with monitoring infrastructure spread across the country.

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research (Manaaki Whenua)

Manaaki Whenua is the lead research organisation in Aotearoa for land environment and biodiversity. Its multidisciplinary teams work across the following priority areas: biota, characterising land resources, climate change adaption and mitigation, managing land and water, plant biodiversity and biosecurity, society culture and policy, and wildlife management and conservation ecology. Manaaki Whenua curates almost a third of Aotearoa’s Nationally Significant Databases and Collections (including reference collections of biological material, cultural knowledge, online databases and tools), which is a key capability that provides resources for Aotearoa’s scientists and others around the world.

Manaaki Whenua employs over 400 staff. Manaaki Whenua has a head office in Lincoln, with further sites in Alexandra, Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.

New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI)

NeSI is a virtual platform but has physical collaborator institutions (Universities of Auckland and Otago, and CRIs NIWA and Manaaki Whenua). NeSI is Aotearoa’s national platform for eScience, supporting our High-Performance Computing (HPC) and eResearch capabilities. It supports national science priorities by providing access to HPC and data infrastructure for researchers to pursue research in the modern science environment. NeSI is funded through SSIF Infrastructure funding, works with collaborator institutions who contribute to the platform through investment, employment of NeSI team, and enabling wider connections for the platform.

The NeSI team consists of around 38 people, who are employed across the collaborator institutions.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)

NIWA’s core purpose is stated as “to enhance the economic value and sustainable management of New Zealand’s aquatic resources and environments, to provide understanding of climate and the atmosphere, and increase resilience to weather and climate hazards to improve safety and wellbeing of New Zealanders.” NIWA is the lead agency in the areas of aquatic resources and environments (with a focus on surface freshwaters and coastal environments), oceans, freshwater and marine fisheries, aquaculture, climate and atmosphere, climate and weather hazards, aquatic and atmospheric-based energy resources, aquatic biodiversity (including biosystematics) and biosecurity.

NIWA has more than 670 staff. NIWA’s staff are located throughout Aotearoa and overseas, and it has a head office located in Auckland.

Plant and Food Research (PFR)

PFR has the role of looking at the whole food system “from field or sea to plate”, focusing on creating healthy and nutritious foods. The broad research areas of PFR include future plants, fish and food, sustainable, resilient food supply, and blue-sky research. PFR’s sectors are arable crops (grains and cereals etc.), berryfruit, food & ingredients, seafood, technologies, tree crops, vegetables and vine crops. PFR was created in 2008 following the merger of two former CRIs (HortResearch and Crop & Food Research).

PFR employs over 900 staff across its sites. PFR has 14 sites across Aotearoa (Clyde, Dunedin, Gore, Hawkes Bay, Kerikeri, Lincoln, Marlborough, Motueka, Nelson, Palmerston North, Pukekohe, Ruakura, Te Puke and Wellington) and its head office in Auckland. It also has 2 Australian locations (Queensland and South Australia) and 1 in the United States (Oregon).

New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited (Scion)

Scion specialises in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors. Scion works across the whole forestry value chain from forest genetics to manufactured products from trees. It is the leading CRI in sustainable forest management and tree improvement, forestry biosecurity, risk management and mitigation, wood processing, wood-related bioenergy, waste streams and other biomaterials, and forestry and forestry-based ecosystem services to inform land-use decision making.

Scion employs around 370 staff. Most of its staff are based at the head office in Rotorua, with around 40 in the Riccarton, Christchurch offices.

Defining research infrastructure

The Kitmap project survey was developed under the 3 themes of ‘understanding what we have’, ‘access and use’ and ‘governance and funding’. The survey was structured to produce data that would help to address the gaps in knowledge that existed around these themes — a difficult task given the magnitude of the questions and the existing lack of data.

One of the difficulties with this project is the lack of internationally recognised standards for classification or taxonomy of research infrastructure. The OECD has highlighted that there is no consensus definition of the term ‘research infrastructure’. The European project Mapping the European Research Infrastructure Landscape (MERIL[4]) used the definition -

“a facility or (virtual) platform that provides the scientific community with resources and services to conduct research in their respective fields. These research infrastructures can be single-sited or distributed or an e-infrastructure, and can be part of a national or international network of facilities, or of interconnected scientific instrument networks”.

Definitions of research infrastructure can be broadened to include the technical support staff that operate and manage the equipment and are essential to maximise the value from investments in infrastructure.

The Kitmap data dictionary considered information from the Common European Research Information Format (CERIF[5]) and classifications of research infrastructure from the MERIL and Catalogue of Research Infrastructure Services (CatRIS[6]) projects. The Kitmap survey used a three-layer data model to categorise holdings within each institution, comprising platforms, infrastructures and resources (Figure 2). These are defined as follows:

1. Platform

A collection of 1 or more infrastructures, with a shared strategic purpose or shared governance, co-location or another unifying feature (refers to groups of infrastructures and not SSIF platforms)

2. Infrastructure

An individual laboratory/facility, eg a field site, specialised laboratory or set of equipment

3. Resource

A significant scientific instrument, collection, or a piece of equipment used or maintained as a single entity. The survey set a threshold value for significant equipment of $150k by agreement with the institutions.

a. We note that due to the non-standard nature of resources, these have been further subdivided in the report into 2 categories — large groupings and small groupings. These categories were used to distinguish between resources with significantly larger unit counts, such as specimens in a collection, sensors in a monitoring network, or computers in a cluster, compared with what would more typically be considered as individual pieces of equipment. An arbitrary threshold of 75 units was applied as it suitably delineated these different categories within the dataset such that most fall in the small groupings category (1,722 items across 475 infrastructures), with a small subset of the types described above falling under large groupings (408,686 items across 18 infrastructures). Unless otherwise specified, references to resources throughout the report refer to those in the small groupings category.

Figure 2: Overview of the hierarchy of research infrastructures in the Kitmap data model
Figure 2: Overview of the hierarchy of research infrastructures in the Kitmap data model. See definitions in the text.

Most of the information gathered in the survey was collected at the infrastructure level. Platforms were included as an organising concept to help standardise very different kinds of information, although these were found to be of limited value for the analyses in this report, and only summary information is presented at the platform level.

Limitations of the survey data

Given the volume of information requested and competing pressures for those providing responses from the institutions, some were able to provide more data than others, and there are parts of the dataset that, as a result, are relatively incomplete. The data are self-reported and, to some extent, self-organised by the institutions. In some cases, data from the institutions include best estimates available at the time of their response. Similarly, different institutions have interpreted some of the questions in different ways or have provided a greater level of granularity than others, which has led to inconsistencies in the data. To ensure transparency and appropriate context to the data presented in this report, figures and text relating to variables with limited data are qualified by a measure of the data quality or accompanied by metrics on response rates. Certain topics of interest to the Kitmap project were not able to be fully explored through the data, and some analytics in the report do not cover all of the institutions. These include information about the lifecycle of infrastructures and replacement timeframes, more detailed information on funding and capital values of infrastructures, and users of infrastructures from Iwi organisations.

[4] The MERIL (Mapping of the European Research Infrastructure Landscape) portal(external link) — MERIL

[5] Main features of CERIF(external link) — euroCRIS

[6] CatRIs Portal(external link) — CatRIs