Extremely important issues for NZ; but who will come to the debate?

Depending on your point of view, the ‘Top 10 Issues for New Zealand’ could make for depressing reading.

The New Zealand Institute’s list form the basis that, if resolved, would make the greatest contribution to the country’s long term success.

There’s no doubt about the importance of what they’re talking about.

The question, is how? Unfortunately, the way the media works (or doesn’t work), is that it doesn’t like unanswered questions.

Hopefully I’m wrong, but this report may not achieve much traction in the wider world.

Yes, these issues are put up for debate – but, who is going to join the discussion?

As the report about/around the issues says, the challenge is to increase debate about long term outcomes for New Zealand and what New Zealanders value, establishing the conditions for introducing world-class policies.

That’s a heck of a challenge; not the least for the very conditions that have put New Zealand in the position we find ourselves in now.

How do we overcome our anti-intellectualism might be the first issue – that is, ‘who the heck are these guys to be talking like this?’

Or, ‘I’m alright mate, stuff the rest of you.’

But, let’s try anyway, without hope there is no life.

A more full discussion of the issues is available here.

The issues the NZ Institute have raised, are:

• Can NZ implement stable policies that will improve long term outcomes?
• Can NZ develop and retain a capable, resilient population that works together?
• Can NZ reduce the disadvantages suffered by young people in a way that contributes to NZ becoming a successful multicultural society?
• Can NZ benefit economically, socially and educationally from ultra-fast broadband?
• Can NZ gain competitive advantage and contribute to slowing climate change by shifting to a low carbon economy?
• Can NZ manage the natural environment so it remains productive, is an amenity for future generations, and builds our brands?
• Can NZ develop the depth of business and public sector skill required to deliver success for our exporters and local businesses?
• Can NZ secure the capital required to rejoin the world-leaders in economic prosperity?
• Can NZ develop a high performing innovation ecosystem that grows many more high value international businesses?
• Can NZ accelerate the growth of export sectors?

“If the country can be mobilised to resolve the ‘Top 10’ issues then the future for New Zealanders as whole will be more assured,” says the NZ Institute director, Rick Boven. “Efforts on many other important issues facing New Zealand will not stop, and nor should they. But to build the foundation for long term success we should focus on the vital few.”

He’s absolutely right. Can we, the royal we, overcome our apathy to discuss them?


About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
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7 Responses to Extremely important issues for NZ; but who will come to the debate?

  1. Pingback: Wellington.scoop.co.nz » Extremely important for NZ; but who will come to the debate?

  2. These are very interesting and important questions: I believe they’re questions for everyone to consider – young people, community and environmental groups, scientists, artists, social entrepreneurs, academics… I get the feeling the most profound solutions will come from cross-sector dialogue and from the most unexpected directions.

    The question is how do we generate a discussion of these key questions in the broader public arena?

    This is the same question I came to after attending the recent NZ Association of Scientists conference on the future of innovation in NZ. Every speaker agreed we need more collaboration between sectors to build a thriving innovation ecosystem. But very few suggested how.

    What struck me at the conference was the absence of generation Y. I was surrounded by suits and grey heads. It struck me that generation Y – the most connected generation in history, tech savvy and communicative – could provide the answer to the how. If we could combine the experience and foresight of the older generations with the fresh innovative thinking of younger generations we could take this conversation to the whole society.

    Over the last two months I’ve been working on a research project investigating how to encourage more collaboration between sectors and communities in NZ. (elizabethconnor.posterous.com) My approach has been to look for cultural hotspots – movements, communities and ideas that are inspiring people’s enthusiasm and motivating them into action. I’ve been looking for what issues intelligent positive young people are passionate about and how we might learn from these movements and harness their energy and enthusiasm.

    I’ve discovered some powerfully positive things happening in the undergrowth of NZ. The organisation 350.org, for example, engaging millions of passionate young people in climate change action; The recent national e-conference Signs of Change bringing together engineers, scientists, business people, council workers, educators, students, health workers and farmers over the KAREN network to showcase moves toward sustainability; The Intersect network – an online community of “purposeful young professionals”.

    The way these groups communicate is through social networking – facebook, online forums. They gather their news from Twitter and share their thoughts in blogs. They are interested in building networks across communities and sectors. They are highly skilled at engaging and coordinating groups of people and facilitating conversations. I suggest that these are the organisations and communities we need to engage with to get the important questions of the future of New Zealand into the wider public. I think these will the people who deliver the most insightful answers – because they are connected with the spirit of the age.

    • sticknz says:

      Hello Elizabeth,

      Yes to everything you say. I would posit that there’s no shortage of answers, but more a disconnect between those who might have some solutions, and those able to do something about it.

      In short, what NZ lacks, is a clear idea of exactly what we’re trying to do. As the NZ Institute says in one of its recent releases, a goal is not a strategy.

      Your points about social networking are most valid. Having only recently come (back) into this world, I can see how the conversations that take place there can help bring about change. However, what percentage of the population uses these media in meaningful ways? Are there means for the Institute to use such forums and work up answers? If they did, who would listen?

      As an aging baby boomer, I can’t say how many conferences/events I’ve been to where the problem has been stated. Answers, and how to put them in place are always in much shorter supply.

      However, comments such as this give some hope that at least there’s people thinking about the issues. Thanks

      • Hi Peter,

        Thanks very much for your reply. I’ve only recently discovered the wonders of social networking and I’ve been really amazed to find what intelligent, meaningful dialogue is going on. I’m part of a network called Intersect that coordinates discussions and meetings of “purposeful young professionals”. Their website has discussion forums on all kinds of current topics. I think this would be an ideal community for the NZ Institute to engage with. The great thing about Intersect is that it is full of “connectors”- people who know lots of people – so whatever ideas are discussed are likely to spread out into all the different communities. The other great thing about Intersect is that it’s not just online. They organise quite a few meet-ups and anyone who belongs to the network can organise events with specific themes.

        There aren’t many scientists in the network I’ve noticed or politicians. This is something I’d like to help change. Do you have any ideas for how we could encourage more participation?

      • sticknz says:

        Simply making people aware that this/you exist he says knowingly. (And in this world that’s awash with information, wouldn’t we all like to know how to do this). What’s your cut-off point age wise (As a ‘boomer’, like you just catching up on how the connecting thing works, perhaps I’m already old hat). What I do like about the concept is that nobody owns an idea – thank you Dave Moskovitz – ideas want to be free. Do get hold of Rick Boven at the NZ Institute though. He’d appreciate feedback and ways to engage I’m sure.

  3. Pingback: Can we, and how do we ‘supe up’ our innovation ecosystem? – (The NZ Institute) | sticK – science, technology, innovation & commercialisation KNOWLEDGE

  4. Thanks Peter, I will get in touch with Rick Boven – that’s a great idea. About the cut off age for Intersect, there isn’t one. The phrase ‘purposeful young professionals’ relates more to attitude than body! It’s for anyone who wants to engage and ‘intersect’.

    Thanks too for your very interesting blog posts – very enjoyable reads and a great source of ideas!

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