Te Ara Paerangi - Future Pathways

Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways is a multi-year programme focused on the future of New Zealand’s research system. The programme seeks to start an open and wide-ranging conversation on a range of issues facing the research system, how these issues might be addressed, and how to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

future pathways banner


Our research, science and innovation system has served Aotearoa New Zealand exceptionally well: from supporting our economy and society, to enhancing understanding of our natural world, helping us solve environmental challenges, and underpinning our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We now need to consider how we best position our system for the future.

Through the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Programme, we want to create a modern, future-focussed research system for New Zealand. It needs to be adaptable for a rapidly changing future, resilient to changes, and connected; to itself, to industry, to public sector users of research, and internationally.

Such a system should reflect New Zealand’s unique opportunities and challenges. It will embed Te Tiriti across the design and delivery attributes of the system, and enable opportunities for mātauranga Māori. It will also recognise that research is a global undertaking and seek to stand alongside the best systems in the world.

Green Paper

The Green Paper was the first step in the Te Ara Paerangi - Future Pathways Programme, and signals the start of what will be a multi-year process. The Green Paper starts an open and wide-ranging conversation on a range of issues facing the research, science and innovation system. We are taking an inclusive, deliberative and open approach to gather a broad base of views, drawing on the collective wisdom, experience and inspiration of our researchers and research users.

Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Green Paper highlights a range of issues faced by the RSI system. At this stage of the process, there are no predetermined ideas or solutions and are gathering views through consultation to better understand opportunities for improvement.

Case for change

New Zealand’s research system was designed nearly 30 years ago, and some parts of the system are not working as well as they should be.

Recent reports make a compelling case for change and present various recommendations for a future state.

Te Pae Kahurangi: Positioning Crown Research Institutes to collectively and respectively meet New Zealand’s current and future needs [PDF, 714 KB]

New Zealand Firms: Reaching for the frontier [PDF, 5.4 MB](external link) — New Zealand Productivity Commission.

In addition, throughout 2018 and 2019, we consulted extensively on a new RSI strategy, the development of which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have your say: RSI strategy

Consultation revealed strong views that the current research system suffers from weak connectivity. Researchers found it challenging to connect with researchers from different organisations; research organisations found it hard to connect with each other; businesses found it challenging to engage productively with the public research sector; and data showed that the RSI system continues to struggle to connect effectively internationally. This is similar to feedback received during engagement on the Health Research Strategy in 2017.

Additionally, responsiveness to Māori was noted to be weak and models of engagement poor. Stakeholders noted much work needed to be done to improve the way the system interacts with Māori at multiple levels.

The 2020 Te Pae Kahurangi review echoed many themes from the RSI strategy consultation.

It found a lack of role clarity exists for institutions, unproductive competition occurs between institutions and integration is lacking between universities, CRIs and other parts of the research system. It repeated findings from the RSI strategy about the system’s weak responsiveness to Māori.

Te Pae Kahurangi also noted difficulties the research system has in adapting to changing national needs and building capabilities necessary for future resilience and transformation. It found a proliferation of governance and a large number of competing strategies and priorities, which struggle to be given effect.

Areas of focus

The Future Pathways programme looks to better understand and resolve these issues and create a research, science and innovation system that continues to be critical to New Zealand’s success.

We have framed potential responses through 6 main areas:

  1. Exploring the role that whole-of-system priorities could play in focusing research activities and concentrating resources towards achieving national goals.
  2. Exploring how the research system can best honour Te Tiriti obligations and opportunities, give life to Māori research aspirations and enable mātauranga Māori.
  3. Exploring potential ways to reshape the RSI funding system for the future. It covers how funding can be used to give effect to national priorities, reduce unproductive competition, and ensure our institutions can respond to emerging opportunities.
  4. Re-examining how we design and shape public research institutions (focussing onCRIs and Callaghan) to enable them to give effect to national priorities, encourage greater connectivity, and be adaptable in a fast changing world.
  5. Exploring how we best develop our workforce, ensure the RSI workforce is connected, diverse and dynamic and they are offered attractive and flexible careers and career pathways.
  6. Exploring effective funding, governance and ownership arrangements for national research infrastructures and how we should support sustainable, efficient and enabling investment in research infrastructure.
Video from Ministers

Green Paper consultation – summary of submissions

We are pleased with the response we have received on the consultation on Te Ara Paerangi - Future Pathways Green Paper, which ran from October 2021 to March 2022. We received 885 written submissions, while around 2,500 participants took part in our webinars and workshops.

Between February and March 2022, we held 15 online workshops. This included 12 sessions with 2 on each of the 6 Green Paper topics, 2 separate senior leaders/managers sessions and 1 separate Early Career Researchers session.

The summary report is provided in two parts:

  • Part I - a general report summarising all submissions and engagements
  • Part II - a report summarising Māori submissions and engagements.

Read the summary report

Introduction [PDF, 646 KB]

Part I - a general report summarising all submissions and engagements [PDF, 2.9 MB]

Part II - a report summarising Māori submissions and engagements [PDF, 4.2 MB]

Key themes:

  • broad support for greater prominence of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in RSI policies and structures
  • an interest in moving to research priorities that focus on national challenges and opportunities
  • concern around the nature, availability and longevity of funding
  • interest in workforce issues such as equity, career development, and precarity and mobility
  • support for greater connections and collaboration in the system rather than competition across the whole of the RSI system.

Next steps

We are reviewing the information in submissions and considering this alongside undertaking further policy work. As the policy design process becomes more detailed and options are narrowed down, there will be further opportunities for engagement, and further consultation. We will provide updates as the work continues to evolve.

Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Reference Group

The Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Reference Group is an external group established in March 2021 to provide high-level strategic guidance to the MBIE Science Leadership Team on the Te Ara Paerangi’ programme. It will also support MBIE to engage the right institutions and people, test ideas, choices, and trade-offs, and ensure MBIE has a good understanding of system-wide issues. The Reference Group is an advisory Group not a decision-making body.

The Group consists of representatives from a range of peak bodies and professional organisations within the sector, including business, industry and Māori science and research leaders. It recognises the importance of working with the RSI sector on this significant programme with the aim of moving forward together.

Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways Reference Group members

  • Chris Bunny/Iain Cossar, MBIE
  • Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard, Office of the PM’s Chief Science Advisor
  • John Morgan, Science NZ
  • Professor Richard Blaikie, Universities NZ
  • Professor Suzanne Pitama, Te Pūtahitanga ropu (authors of the Te Pūtahitanga report)
  • Tania Gerrard, Te Ara Pūtaiao (CRI Māori leadership group)
  • Grant Rennie, Public Service Association
  • Catherine Beard, Business NZ
  • Dr Sereana Naepi, Royal Society Early Career Researcher Forum
  • Professor Troy Baisden, NZ Association of Scientists
  • Professor Paora (Paul) Tapsell, IRANZ
  • Dr Tim Mackle, Food and Fibre Partnership Group
  • Dr James Hutchinson, Commercialisation Partner Network.
Last updated: 27 September 2022