The University of Otago will meet AgResearch chief
executive Tom Richardson in Dunedin today to explore options
for future co-operation between the two institutions.
Deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise Prof Richard
Blaikie said the university would be discussing with
Mr Richardson what could be lost by AgResearch going ahead
with plans to shift about 80 staff from Invermay.
''We will be talking about the specific interactions [between
the university and] Invermay and the things that might be
lost, if they were to ... diminish that capability,'' Prof
The university would also talk about future options for
collaboration between the two institutions.
''We want to talk to them about the opportunities for growing
interactions, particularly in the omics area - genetics,
genomics and other related disciplines. That's a real key
area of strength at Otago,'' he said.
The meeting was the first between the two institutions since
the end of staff consultation over restructuring.
''We are really starting to get down into the details of what
the research interaction is going to be ... now they have
gone through [staff consultation].''
In response to comments from AgResearch that most of its
collaboration with Otago University was not based from
Invermay, Prof Blaikie said: ''That's not surprising because
the majority of their staff, even in their current
configuration, are at other sites.''
AgResearch chairman Sam Robinson said the meeting between its
executive and Otago University was part of its promise to
''listen'' to external parties.
Mr Robinson also said AgResearch aimed not to lose any staff
as a result of the proposed changes - an aim he said was
This was at odds with an internal management team report that
warned up to 82% of scientists might refuse to shift.
There were a number of ways it was engaging with staff to
ensure they stayed at AgResearch, he said.
''We are not going to expose to the wider New Zealand
community through the media all of the various ways we are
going to engage with staff and ensure they remain [at
The board and executive team were yet to determine a firm
date when a final decision on its restructuring plan would be
''It's an evolving process. Nothing is due to happen until
2016, and there is quite a few sleeps between now and 2016.''
The executive team would visit the city again early next
month to meet the Otago Regional Council and Environment
Former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson, who prepared the
Dunedin City Council's submission on the AgResearch
restructuring, said the aim to keep all staff at AgResearch
was not possible and ''key staff'' would be lost.
''The chances of them losing no staff are zero,'' Mr Hodgson
This opinion was based on the fact that only seven out of 25
scientists shifted in previous restructuring, when staff were
asked to move from Wallaceville to Invermay.