IRANZ news briefs ▼
Charles Eason - Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit ▼
HERA: Whanake Scholarship awarded ▼
Xerra: Name change for CSST ▼
Lincoln Ag: Hitchhiking bacteria may hold key to contaminant clean-up ▼
Motu: Measuring human rights around the globe ▼
BRANZ: Post-disaster workloads ▼
Government backs Malaghan’s cancer immunotherapy ▼
MRINZ: Landmark study “a gamechanger” for asthma sufferers worldwide ▼
Cawthron lab to test, research, and develop hemp products ▼
Lincoln Ag: Sensing sub-surface structures ▼
LASRA: Skin in the game ▼
Motu: NZ “under-adopting” win-win farming practices ▼
MRINZ: Kānuka honey effective treatment for cold sores ▼
Malaghan: Re-training our bodies to kill cancer ▼
BRANZ: Christchurch goes up and out ▼
HERA's Stephen Hicks appointed Prof of Civil Engineering at Warwick Uni ▼
Rob Whitney - Companion of the Royal Society ▼
Follow us on Facebook! ▼

IRANZ news briefs
  • New CEO and Chair at CRL
  • Regional Research Institutes Bragato, NZMMIR and PlantTech join IRANZ
  • Bragato Research Institute welcomes new independent directors
  • PlantTech officially launched by the Hon. Dr Megan Woods
  • Aqualinc and HydroServices now located in one office
  • Malaghan: Immune health a focus
  • Motu: Commentary on the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill
  • Malaghan’s Dr Weinkove features at TEDxTauranga
  • MRINZ 'science connect' programme in primary schools
  • Cawthron Institute welcomes funding for National Algae Centre
  • Cawthron Institute hosting Open Oceans aquaculture symposium
  • LASRA joins Naturally Leather
  • Peter Carey from Lincoln Agritech interviewed on RNZ
  • Follow the link for more details on the July 2019 news briefs from our Independent Research Organisations.


Charles Eason - Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Professor Charles Eason, CEO of the Cawthron Institute, has been appointed as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to science and wildlife conservation in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

“Charlie is fiercely passionate about science innovation and excellence, and has built Cawthron into one of the largest employers in Nelson Tasman and its success, which has a huge impact on our regional economy, is projected to continue thanks to Charlie’s leadership direction. The Board, along with Cawthron staff, are extremely proud of Charlie’s achievements and warmly congratulate him on this honour,” says Cawthron Institute Board of Directors Chair Meg Matthews.

Congratulations, Charlie, from all of us IRANZ!


HERA: Whanake Scholarship awarded

HERA have announced that Sarah Lewis is the inaugural recipient of the HERA Whanake Scholarship.

Sarah is studying a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in mechatronics at Massey University in Palmerston North. She is also a graduate of the Puhoro STEM Academy.

"After meeting her on a recent trip to the rohe, I know she is the perfect candidate for our Whanake scholarship. Especially as we start our journey towards more meaningful engagement with Māori in Engineering," writes Troy Coyle.


HERA CEO Troy Coyle at Puhoro to meet HERA's new Whanake Scholarship Recipient, Sarah Lewis, and her support team. From left: Puhoro Kaihautū Kayla Martin, Troy Coyle, Sarah Lewis, Maori Education Trust General Manager Evelyn Newman, Puhoro Courtnee Matthews, and her baby Cairo.
Name change for CSST

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) has officially changed its name to Xerra. The Xerra Earth Observation Institute name signifies their focus on Earth Observation data and remote sensing technologies for the betterment of our regions and New Zealand as a whole.

Xerra is pronounced ‘zear-rah’ and originates from the Latin word for Earth — Terra. The ‘x’ represents a multiplier. Xerra, then, is ‘multiple ways of viewing Earth’.

Xerra's offices are still in Alexandra and they’ve still got the same great team and R&D capabilities. Check out their new website.


Hitchhiking bacteria may hold key to contaminant clean-up

Research findings published in leading science journal

Lincoln Agritech researchers and collaborators from various institutions in France have discovered a novel symbiosis involving a hitch-hiking magneto-sensing bacteria riding on the outer membrane of marine protists (microscopic single-celled organisms) found in sediment on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.


Lincoln Agritech Biotechnology Group (from left) Dr Richard Weld, Dr Johanna Steyaert, international intern Camille Vagner, Nicholas Glithero, PhD student Thomas Flinois, and Simon Lee. Photo: Lincoln Agritech.
Measuring human rights around the globe

Disabled, prisoners, and Māori vulnerable to human rights abuses in NZ

While New Zealand has some positive scores for human rights, according to the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), an international not-for-profit venture run out of Motu Research, we also have some strikingly poor results, particularly in terms of who is most at risk of rights abuses.

The HRMI has recently released data on the global human rights situation. The 2019 HRMI Human Rights Country Reports, with measurements tracking the progress of over 170 countries on at least some rights, includes 19 countries with extensive sets of civil and political rights data.


Measuring human rights. Photo: Louise Thomas.
BRANZ: Post-disaster workloads

BRANZ research into post-disaster construction workloads has yielded some interesting insights into the Christchurch housing stock and has projected remaining workloads in the city.

BRANZ Research Analyst Nick Brunsdon writes about the research, which surveyed 335 Christchurch home-owners and landlords, in the latest issue of build Magazine. He writes that the sale of cash settled and unrepaired houses, termed ‘as is, where is’ has caused serious concerns. "These centre around the potential for these houses to be in poor or unhealthy condition due to earthquake damage and neglect. The lack of public record of insurance settlements also leads to concerns that they may be on-sold to unwitting buyers with only superficial repairs."

To shed some light on the ‘as is, where is’ market, the survey focused on the buyers of these unrepaired houses.


Government backs Malaghan’s cancer immunotherapy

Science Minister the Hon. Megan Woods announced on 13 June government backing for the Malaghan Institute's CAR T-cell cancer therapy programme, contributing up to $4.9M over 5 years – 40% of the estimated cost – to help establish CAR T-cell manufacturing in New Zealand and develop new CAR T-cell therapies for clinical use.

Malaghan Institute General Manager Mike Zablocki says the co-funding is a clear signal from the government that it sees a big future for human immune therapy.

“This is a growing, high tech, knowledge-intensive sector. This partnership funding will help transform our existing plans for a single phase I trial – already well underway – into a highly-focused programme of expanding economic opportunity for New Zealand."


Landmark study “a gamechanger” for asthma sufferers worldwide

New findings from a landmark New Zealand-led study involving the Medical Research Institute of NZ have provided the missing evidence needed to potentially change the way doctors treat the world’s most common form of respiratory illness.

“The findings from this study are exciting and have the potential to be a gamechanger in the way doctors treat mild asthma,” says study author and MRINZ Director Professor Richard Beasley.

“The results provide new evidence supporting recent major changes in the management approach recommended in international asthma treatment guidelines.”


Landmark study “a gamechanger” for asthma sufferers worldwide
TVNZ's 1 News interviewed Professor Beasley about the recent research, which showed a combination inhaler could more than halve the risk of severe asthma exacerbations.
Cawthron lab to test, research, and develop hemp products

Cawthron Analytical Science are offering their services to the growing hemp industry, following Ministry of Health approval for their laboratory to test, research, and develop hemp seed products.

Cawthron Analytical Science Business Manager Augusta van Wijk is enthused by the industry’s possibilities, “Hemp is increasingly being recognised for its food and nutraceutical benefits, and the industry is energised to make the most of emerging market opportunities. With our recently extended regulatory capability, we’re looking forward to working alongside growers and manufacturers to validate and innovate quality, compliant products for domestic and international markets.”

The Ministry of Health updated regulations last year, to allow low-THC hemp seeds to be grown, manufactured, and sold as food products. The level of THC permitted is too low to have a psychoactive effect.


Lincoln Ag: Sensing sub-surface structures

Lincoln Agritech has announced a partnership with WNT Ventures to commercialise a range of advanced sensor technologies that could revolutionise the road construction sector among others. A new company, TDRI Limited, has been created to commercialise the technology, which has been licensed from Lincoln Agritech.

Lincoln Agritech has developed a range of remote and portable sensing technologies based on microwaves and the use of time domain reflectometry imaging (TDRi). TDRi can be used to precisely identify characteristics such as moisture patches within a medium, such as soil, allowing an insight into sub-surface structures that is simply not possible using traditional invasive ground sensors.


LASRA: Skin in the game

LASRA research scientists, Drs Sujay Prabakar and Rafea Naffa, were interviewed on their leather and hide research in an article, Getting deerskins in the game, published on 21 June by Meat Exports NZ.

“In particular, we’re looking at how to minimise the use of chrome in the processing – currently a finished hide contains more than eight percent of it – while preserving the natural elements and increasing biodegradability," says Sujay.

Rafea’s work has focused on the extraction of the protein collagen, a major constituent of the hide comprising around 10 percent. In 2018, the collagen market accounted for nearly US$3.5 billion.

Rafea explained that collagen has superior characteristics such as gelling, emulsification and binding of food products. “So it is used in many applications, such as food and dietary supplements, medical devices such as drug delivery and wound healing and cosmetic formulations, such as anti-ageing and skin-rejuvenating ingredients.”


LASRA research scientists, Drs Sujay Prabakar, left, and Rafea Naffa. Photo: Meat Export NZ, Alison Spencer.
Motu: NZ “under-adopting” win-win farming practices

New Zealand farmers are apparently “under-adopting” multiple win-win pastoral farming practices that could reduce on-farm biological greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to research, these practices can maintain, and in some circumstances even increase, farm profits. However, a new research paper from Motu says there are barriers to adopting these win–win practices (defined as “no-cost” mitigation practices).

Researchers from Motu have identified barriers affecting the adoption or expansion of no-cost mitigation practices by farmers in New Zealand. The researchers conducted interviews with farmers in different regions of the country. They discussed different managerial and practical implications of five different “no-cost” farming practices.


MRINZ: Kānuka honey effective treatment for cold sores

A unique pharmacy-backed trial, one of the largest medical studies of its kind ever undertaken in this country, has shown that honey derived from the New Zealand kānuka tree is just as effective in healing cold sores as standard pharmaceutical anti-viral treatment. The results from the Medical Research Institute of NZ (MRINZ) were published in the prestigious British Medical Journal Open. They show that a New Zealand kānuka honey formulation Honevo (90% kānuka honey and 10% glycerin) is as effective as Viraban (5% aciclovir cream) in the time it takes to reduce pain and heal a cold sore.


Re-training our bodies to kill cancer

Director of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research Professor Graham Le Gros, spoke to science reporter Jamie Morton about how immunotherapy has revolutionised how we treat cancer and a range of immune-related disorders.

"Difficult cancers in difficult organs that could never be reached by conventional therapy before are now being precisely targeted with immunotherapies. Asthma, allergy, gut disease – we're now finding that where the immune system is overreactive or oversensitive we can 'de-tune' it very specifically."

You can read more about the research on the Malaghan site or on the NZ Herald site linked below.


BRANZ: Christchurch goes up and out

"The earthquakes left a lasting impact on the Christchurch housing market. An early shortage of houses and rising rents has levelled out, and the city is experiencing population growth and stable housing prices," writes BRANZ Research Analyst Nick Brunsdon in an article recently published in build magazine.

Nick writes that the city is expanding outwards at an unprecedented rate, "with the CoreLogic estimates of the number of houses increasing by 1,239 in Halswell West and 1,875 in Wigram between 2010 and 2018.

"The most significant changes occurred outside the city as the population shifted towards the relatively stable land of neighbouring districts. In Waimakariri District, developments in Pegasus added 841 houses and 963 in Kaiapoi North East. To the south of the city, Selwyn District soon became the fastest-growing district in the country, with 3,392 houses added in Rolleston, 1,227 in Lincoln and 991 in West Melton."


HERA's Stephen Hicks appointed Prof of Civil Engineering at the University of Warwick

After 11 years at HERA, General Manager Structural Systems Dr Stephen Hicks will be heading back to the UK to pursue a career as Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Warwick.

Prior to work with HERA, Stephen worked in an environment where the steel industry was actively seeking to harmonize national standards with 27 other countries. New Zealand was a bit of a shock by comparison, we still had many of our own domestic standards rather than joint ones with our closest neighbour, Australia. It was no surprise, then, that this would set the tone for a strong standards focus during Stephen’s time with HERA.


Rob Whitney - Companion of the Royal Society

IRANZ Executive Officer Dr Rob Whitney has been made a Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi (CRSNZ) in recognition of Rob’s exceptional contribution to the promoting and advancing of science in New Zealand in a career spanning decades.

“Rob has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of Independent Research Organisations in New Zealand, over many years and in a variety of roles,” says Dr John Bright, IRANZ Chair and Director of Research and Development at Aqualinc Research.


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IRANZ is an association of independent research organisations. Its members undertake scientific research, development or technology transfer. Members include Aqualinc Research Ltd, Bragato Research Institute, BRANZ, Cawthron Institute, CRL Energy Ltd, Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA), Leather & Shoe Research Association (LASRA), Lincoln Agritech Ltd, Mackie Research, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ), Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand Institute of Minerals to Materials Research, PlantTech Research Institute, Titanium Industry Development Association Ltd (TiDA Ltd), Transport Engineering Research NZ Ltd (TERNZ), WSP Opus Research, and Xerra Earth Observation Institute.

Contact: Dr Rob Whitney, Executive Officer, mobile: +64 27 2921050, email:

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