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

We are pleased with the response we have received to consultation on Te Ara Paerangi - Future Pathways Green Paper, which ran from October 2021 to March 2022. We received around 900 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.

There was a broad and diverse mix of attendees at the workshops, representing differing career stages, organisations, experiences and skills.

The majority of attendees at the workshops were from Wellington, Auckland and Otago. The largest proportion of participants came from universities, Crown Research Institutes, and the private sector. Participants in the mid-career stage made up the largest portion of attendees at 54%, while people in the early- and later-career stage made up over 20% each.

Overall, we have seen the following high-level themes from the Green Paper consultation:

  • There is a strong appetite for change and to make improvements to the RSI system
  • There were focussed discussions on how the system can best enable mātauranga Māori in all workshops, as well as 2 dedicated Te Tiriti workshops
  • Workforce issues such as equity, career precarity and mobility featured strongly (noting that many of the participants were early-mid career)
  • Concerns about the nature, availability and longevity of funding was a concern across all topic areas
  • People are keen to see a shift from competition to connection and collaboration.

We are currently analysing feedback and will provide an update in May 2022 on the timing for publishing a comprehensive summary of submissions received.

Next steps

We will be 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.

Last updated: 11 April 2022