New Zealand needs more scientists and engineers and a
''stronger science voice'' to deal with the complexities of
global climate change and other challenges, former Dunedin
North MP Pete Hodgson says.
Mr Hodgson, who is a former Minister of Research, Science and
Technology, was commenting in an address to about 340
graduates, including in science, consumer and applied
sciences and physical education, at a 4pm graduation ceremony
at the Regent Theatre, Dunedin, on Saturday.
''Graduates, your country needs you whether you research or
New Zealand was getting by with ''too few'' scientists and
In Germany, Japan and Scandinavia, scientists ran companies
and their science influenced management decisions.
''In New Zealand, those same companies are run by accountants
This was one of many reasons why this country had ''one of
the lowest levels'' of private sector research and
development in the developed world.
Scientists did not have a ''franchise on wisdom'' but ''we do
need a stronger science voice in social discourse''.
In a wide-ranging address, he urged graduates to be proud of
their achievements but added he sometimes did not like
His electorate office was close to the campus and
''unpleasantries'' had sometimes arisen, given there was a
student flat above his office.
One day, a student had arrived home with a drum kit-''you get
But sometimes students could be ''very, very funny''.
One story which had ''never been told'' occurred 10 years
ago, on election day 2002, when three young men had ''walked
into a booth in one of Dunedin North's affluent hill
suburbs'' to exercise their democratic right ''wearing
nothing but a smile''.
The poll clerk had ''looked disapprovingly down his long,
aquiline, cold nose'', paused and then said, ''Very well, get
behind those screens, get voting and get lost.''
''Only in Dunedin,'' Mr Hodgson commented.
Mr Hodgson told graduates he remained ''troubled'' over
climate change, which was a ''global problem'' and not enough
progress was being made.
The situation required the public to ''think very long term''
and ''have faith in what science predicts'', but the public
did not ''easily warm'' to either thing.
Nevertheless, young science graduates instinctively thought
about the far future and could help ''save the world''.
''If we are to keep abreast of ourselves as a species, then
we need a technically literate population who value long-term
policies and will embrace change.''