Our fourth annual report, Mahi Tahi 4, is now at the printers. If you would like a hard copy, please get in touch.
You can read Juliet’s foreword below:
Tēnā koutou katoa, ngā mihi o te wā ki a tātou. Ahakoa ngā ārai, ahakoa ngā aupiki me ngā auheke, mā te āta wānanga me te mahi tahi e whai rongoā, e whai rautaki kia anga whakamua ai tātou katoa. Kei te ao hurihuri tātou e noho nei engari mā te titiro ki ngā rā o mua me ngā kōrero o nehe, kei reira kitea ai he oranga mō tātou. Nā reira, anei ētahi pitopito kōrero.
My fourth year in the role has once again been dominated by the pandemic. First Delta, and then Omicron, made sure that COVID-19 has remained a focus for our science advisory community across the motu, with vaccines and variants driving changes in our pandemic management strategy. Another hat tip to Ian Town, who continues to provide advice to the Ministry of Health in an ever- changing landscape. It also meant that we were locked down again for much of the year – I’d like to acknowledge the OPMCSA team for soldiering on, managing to engage with experts and stakeholders remotely and still deliver reports on time while working in their PJs at home.
The circumstances at least provided a very apt backdrop for our major project for 2021, Kotahitanga: Uniting Aotearoa against infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance, which we had the pleasure of launching virtually at the start of 2022, along with our expert panel. A huge thanks to them for prioritising this work in a challenging year. The recommendations are currently sitting with the Antimicrobial Resistance Cross-Government Governance Group, and it was encouraging to see funding for antibiotic resistance in food systems in this year’s budget. We have also been heartened to see progress on the recommendations from our previous reports on plastics and fisheries.
As in past years, this report reflects the work of many. Now in my second term, I continue to work to connect the Chief Science Advisor (CSA) Forum and academic and policy communities, and am grateful to everyone who has contributed to the formation of evidence-based policy in Aotearoa. This year, we were delighted to welcome four new members of the CSA Forum in new roles. Erica Gregory, from the Environmental Protection Agency, joined us as Chief Mātauranga Advisor; Chris Daughney joined as the inaugural CSA to Te Uru Kahika, the Regional and Unitary Councils Aotearoa; Rodney Scott joined as the newly appointed CSA to the Public Services Commission; and Tom Wilson took up the newly created position on CSA to the National Emergency Management Agency. These are exciting developments, and I’m looking forward to working with all of them in the coming years.
We also enjoyed hosting more fellows and interns this year, despite the challenges of working remotely, and are delighted to highlight some of their work in this report.
Mahi Tahi 4 front cover
Above: Juliet and the Prime Minister meet with researchers at the University of Auckland.
Below: Juliet speaking at the Association for Women in Sciences conference in 2021. Image credit: NZISF/Alex Lovell-Smith
Our major project for 2022 tackles food waste, and is well underway. Combatting food waste has scope to deliver social, environmental and economic wins for Aotearoa, so in the months ahead we’ll be digging into the evidence base and engaging with the country’s many experts and stakeholders to understand how to minimise food surplus in the first instance, and ensure that any remaining food is used to maximum possible benefit, respecting the food recovery hierarchy and principles of a more circular food system. A big thank you to the enthusiastic experts and stakeholders who are supporting this mahi.
We will also be undertaking several smaller projects, including another in our series of webpages aimed at providing balanced information to the public on contentious topics, this time on nitrates. More on that later in the report.
I’m also excited to be back in a multitude of kanohi ki te kanohi meetings and conferences which have reappeared in my diary with a vengeance, largely thanks to the role played by vaccines (and vaccinators!) in reducing the impacts of COVID-19. I’ve missed these connections: I’m enjoying opportunities to once again gather in-person, and am looking forward to extending this to meeting with overseas colleagues soon.