• Posted on: 9/04/2024
  • 2 minutes to read

NIWA, one of New Zealand’s leading climate research agencies, is set to lose up to 90 jobs, at a time when our climate crisis is worsening.

"This is utter madness at this critical time for New Zealand," said Duane Leo, National Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has told staff 85 to 90 positions will be lost, of which 30 are currently vacant.

The proposed cut amounts to more than one in ten staff - some 13% of its workforce. This comes on top of cuts of possibly hundreds of jobs at the Ministry for the Environment and the loss of 30 scientists and engineers at Callaghan Innovation announced yesterday.

NIWA does critical research into the weather and climate - it says it employs New Zealand’s largest team of climate, freshwater and ocean scientists. NIWA has a ‘mission to conduct leading environmental science to enable the sustainable management of natural resources for New Zealand and the planet’.

"NIWA maintains this will have no impact on its core work and is driven by the need to remain financially viable," Leo said.

"How does this make sense? The very agency charged with evidence-based research on critical climate, marine and other environmental issues - should be getting more investment if the Government was serious about tackling those challenges.

"This is just another dangerous consequence of the Government pulling back on science, decisions not based on any evidence. This rushed and reckless approach will cost New Zealand in the long term.

"As we saw with cuts to the workforce at the Environment Ministry and Callaghan Innovation, this Government’s poorly thought through cost cutting drive will see some of our best and brightest scientists and researchers lose jobs and go overseas.

"Why do this now when climate change is upon us, when the frequency of storm events is increasing rapidly, and our freshwater resources are in a fragile state?

"The Government has the funds; it’s just choosing to give away $15 billion tax cuts rather than invest in critical public services like research and development.

"The Government talks about getting rid of 'dumb stuff' in the public service. Well, the NIWA cuts are just plain and simple dumb stuff and New Zealand will pay the price," said Leo.