Challenging Conversations

eSocSci recognises the role of research in addressing the big challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand. We are taking a more active part in broadening the conversation between the social science community and the National Science Challenges (NSC). As our eSocSci/NSC relationship develops you will be able to see what each of the Challenges is involved in and, if you are part of a Challenge, participate directly in Network activities if they are supported by your Challenge. Building a cross-Challenge space raises awareness of the breadth of social science engagement in critical science.

Housing is a fundamental human need. Every person is involved in housing, but we have needs and wants beyond simply a roof over our heads. A home should nurture and protect us. It should be hospitable. It should be dry, warm and insulated to keep us healthy. It should have clean air and sunlight. And it should be part of a community or built environment that also nurtures and protects us.

However, there are significant difficulties in New Zealand’s built environment which the BBHTC Challenge seeks to address. These issues include our housing supply, the quality of our housing, and the vulnerabilities and underperformance of some of our urban environments.

Visit the Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities eSocSci network

Visit the Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities website.

Our children are our future. We want to give them the best possible start in life. Getting a good start includes being a healthy weight, learning successfully and being mentally well.  That’s what all families, whānau and communities want for their tamariki. But obesity, learning and mental health are challenges for some children.

Our mission is to find better ways to predict, prevent and treat obesity, learning and mental health problems in children and teenagers. Our job is to make science work for people. We believe we can do that only when we work with communities, and draw together indigenous and Western approaches to science.

Visit the A Better Start website

The Ageing Well National Science Challenge is researching how to sustain health and wellbeing as people age, enabling all New Zealanders to reach their full potential into the later years of life. Research includes work to optimise brain and body health, as well as to reduce disability and moderate the impact of age-related illness such as dementia, stroke, depression and frailty. The Challenge aims to enhance the independence and tino rangatiratanga of older individuals and their whānau, and encourage age-friendly physical environments. It is working to ensure older people continue to live a meaningful life through social integration and engagement, in a society that values their ongoing contributions of knowledge and experience.

Visit the Ageing Well website.

The Healthier Lives National Science Challenge is a national research collaboration dedicated to achieving healthier lives for all New Zealanders.

The key to this is delivering the right prevention to the right population and the right treatment to the right patient.

Healthier Lives is working on the prevention and treatment of four of New Zealand’s main non-communicable diseases:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Together, with our Challenge Partners and others, we will contribute to New Zealand’s commitment to achieving the World Health Organisation goals of:

  • Reducing the health burden of non-communicable diseases by 25% by 2025
  • Reducing health inequalities between populations by 25% by 2025

We plan to do this in partnership with stakeholders and communities by generating world class research, and translating our research findings into innovative health policy, practice, and technology, designed for New Zealand’s unique communities.

Visit the Healthier Lives website

New Zealand has an outstanding international reputation as a rich source of high quality, efficiently produced and safe foods and beverages. As consumers in Asia, and around the world, increasingly seek foods with proven health benefits, New Zealand’s advantages and national capability make it a natural leader.

High-Value Nutrition harnesses New Zealand’s world-class scientific expertise to create market and industry relevant knowledge which will deliver competitive advantage to New Zealand’s food and beverage exports.

Visit the High Value Nutrition website.

The New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge aims to reverse the decline of this country’s biological heritage by protecting and managing native biodiversity, improving biosecurity, and enhancing resilience to harmful organisms. The Challenge includes research on ways to reduce rates of incursion or establishment by foreign invader species, and to enhance and restore the resilience of vulnerable ecosystems to prevent biodiversity loss and mitigate the effects of global change. The Challenge’s national partnership will deliver a step-change in research innovation, technologies and sector action to help reduce the increasing pressures on our environment.

Visit the New Zealand’s Biological Heritage website

Our Land and Water – Toitū te Whenua, Toiora te Wai – National Science Challenge aim is to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations.

The way we use and manage our land and water will be transformed by: greater value in global markets; innovative resilient land and water use and collaborative capacity. These drivers, along with research to connect them, form the three themes Challenge research will address.

The Māori title is “Toitu te Whenua, Toiora te Wai”. Toitu te Whenua – let the permanence of land remain intact; Toiora te Wai – let water abound. The title is an adaption of the Māori proverb, “toitū te whenua, whatungarongaro te tangata” – land is permanent while people come and go.

Visit the Our Land and Water website.

The Resilience Challenge will build new knowledge and tools that underpin a broad-spectrum resilience in our unique rural, urban, coastal and Māori communities to natural hazards, including earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunami, weather, coastal and rural fire hazards. There is also special emphasis on extreme-risk sites – where multiple hazards combine to threaten community sustainability.

Our overarching mission is to partner with multiple stakeholders to generate new co-created research solutions to inform how New Zealand will build a transformative pathway toward natural hazard resilience.

Visit the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges website

The Challenge has assembled some of New Zealand’s biggest multi-organisational teams of science and engineering researchers from our eight universities, three crown research institutes (CRIs) and an independent research organisation. All collaborate with businesses. We develop world-leading science and technology highly relevant to New Zealand. We aim to build enduring partnerships between researchers, business, and Māori organisations. Kia kotahi mai – Te Ao Pūtaiao me Te Ao Hangarau: to come together, to join as one, the world of Science, the world of Innovation.

We support researchers to build technical capacity and encourage them to answer these questions:

  • what can my research do for New Zealand?
  • how can I proactively engage with business to understand their needs?
  • how can I develop innovative technology solutions to help firms succeed in global markets?

Visit the Science for Technological Innovation website

The objective of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge is to enhance the value of New Zealand’s marine resources, while providing a healthy marine environment for future generations.

The challenge is to:

  • Engage with New Zealanders to understand the cultural, spiritual, economic and environmental values of our marine environment
  • Investigate and describe the impacts of natural and human stresses on marine ecosystems
  • Overcome impediments to enhanced resource use
  • Uphold commitment towards Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the sharing of information, resources and opportunities, as well as learning, action and shared decision-making

Visit the Sustainable Seas website

Scientists, industry and communities must work together if society is to adapt to the changing climate. Climate science can be complex and overwhelming, but it is the basis of understanding climate change and its impacts. Because of this, climate science is not always used effectively in planning and decision-making.

The Objective set by Cabinet for the Deep South Challenge is to understand the role of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment. Building on this Objective, the Mission was developed to guide the vision and research priorities and activities of the Challenge.

The mission of the Challenge is to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate. Working with communities and industry we will bring together new research approaches to determine the impacts of a changing climate on our climate-sensitive economic sectors, infrastructure and natural resources to guide planning and policy.

This will be underpinned by improved knowledge and observations of climate processes in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica – our Deep South – and will include development of a world-class earth systems model to predict Aotearoa/New Zealand’s climate.

Visit the Deep South website