Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor

Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaio Matua ki ti Pirimia

Professor Juliet Gerrard

The role:

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor (PMCSA), Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaiao Matua ki te Pirimia, has a broad role centred around advising the Prime Minister on how science in its very broadest sense can inform good decision making in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The PMCSA:

  • provides strategic advice across sectors, and does not seek to influence operational or funding matters within the science system;
  • serves as an accessible conduit of alerts from the science community to government
  • provides advice on specific topics, to the Prime Minister or other Ministers; this advice may be informal, or in a formal commissioned report with a synthesis of the available scientific evidence on a topic to inform policy; priorities will be agreed periodically with the Prime Minister
  • plays a role in raising the profile of science in Aotearoa, New Zealand, especially amongst young people
  • plays a role in making science more accessible to the public, leading by example and encouraging the science community to build trusted relationships with communities
  • builds relationships internationally with science advisors and international thought leaders.

The PMCSA is independent and not an employee of the Government, enabling an independence of voice that is free to speak out on important issues.  The PMCSA commits to scrupulous management of conflicts, resigns from all Board appointments and leadership roles, and does not apply for research funding in New Zealand during their term.

Terms of reference:

These are currently undergoing a refresh to acknowledge the wider role played by the Departmental Science Advisor Network, who provide a broader team feeding in independent advice to the Government.  Watch this space.

Juliet’s vision for her term in the role:

Juliet has a vision for the role around four principles: rigourous, inclusive, transparent and accessible.  She aims to create a trusted bridge between science, society and government.

She notes that inclusivity needs careful definition in Aotearoa, New Zealand and is seeking partnerships to define how to frame her questions in the most inclusive way.

Juliet with students and staff at St Gerards School, Alexandra, Otago

The story so far:

Juliet is spending the first three months of her tenure touring the country and listening to views from researchers and scholars of all disciplines at all types of institutions.  This work has been invigorating and it has been a privilege to hear the passion and commitment of researchers, especially the emerging researchers, to make a difference to Aotearoa, New Zealand.  She is also listening to other communities, with a particular interest in understanding Māori perspectives and business voices.  You can find out more about this by following Twitter, Instagram, and keeping an eye on the news feed.  She has also hired the new team, moved into new offices and begun work with the Departmental Science Advisors to create a stronger team of science advice across Ministries.

At the end of this window of listening, a work plan will be drafted and agreed with the Prime Minister.  Juliet is committed to working in as open and transparent a way as possible, and will be including reflections on different pieces of work and priorities here from the second quarter of her term.

In addition to formal evidence synthesis on specific topics, the team will be working hard to support Juliet to expand this website, and produce and curate trusted content for Aotearoa, New Zealand – especially in areas where there is confusion in the public domain and a balanced view of the available scientific evidence is useful for decision making.  Watch this space.

Contacts

  Phone: + 64 9 923 6318

Mailing Address

Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1142
New Zealand