E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Given the significant environmental challenges of our times – and the urgent need to make changes in the way we live our lives – I have been keen to do what I can to support and promote innovation and sustainability for our environment and our economy during my time as Governor-General.
A few weeks ago I hosted a meeting here for the members of the Aotearoa Circle – all leaders of government agencies, leading corporates, and NGOs – dedicated to working together to address climate change, the loss of biodiversity, water and soil quality, and the declining health of our marine world. It was heartening to feel the positive energy in the room and to know that there is such a strong commitment to achieve results.
If Sir Paul Callaghan were still with us, I am sure he would have been an enthusiastic member of that group.
Today we are privileged to have Professor James Renwick, Dr Jo Horrocks and Lisa McClaren here to speak about the climate crisis, natural disaster resilience, and the Zero Carbon Act, and I’m also delighted to welcome young science leaders from across the country here to Government House.
Your creativity, skills and knowledge will help Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider world find new ways to address pressing issues.
Bertrand Russell, the 20th Century British philosopher and polymath, famously said that
“Broadly speaking, we are in the middle of a race between human skill as a means and human folly as an end.”
It was certainly something that preoccupied Sir Paul Callaghan, who believed scientists had a duty to interpret information for a wider audience and to alert fellow citizens as to what the implications might be for them in the future.
The Eureka! Young scientist leaders’ challenge is an ideal way to honour Sir Paul’s efforts to promote scientific understanding, foster young scientists’ careers, and work for public good.
If reason and ethical behaviour are to prevail over false claims and wilful ignorance, we need people who are able to enter the fray and challenge fondly held beliefs, confront the powerful, educate the ill-informed and inspire others to continue on the search for knowledge and innovation.
Bertrand Russell summed it up this way:
“A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”
Scientists can and must be prepared to correct misapprehensions, pose questions, surprise, challenge, persuade, and enlighten.
Today’s presentations and working groups are an opportunity to do just that – and to think creatively, work together and share understandings.
I hope there are many “Eureka! moments”, I look forward to hearing your findings later today, and I will be interested to see the draft report.
Kia ora, kia kaha, Kia manawanui, huihui tātou katoa.