Friday, March 21, 2014
Greens Support Innovation and Hi-Tech Wood
In any competitive activity it is always a good idea to play to one's strengths and when it comes to industry and trade, New Zealand's strengths are a temperate climate, an abundance off natural resources and innovative people. Our major exports reflect the first two strengths only, powdered milk, meat and logs earn the majority of our income and 70% of all goods exported are primary products with little added value.
When I was growing up in the sixties in Southland I remember being aware of many amazing innovators and innovations. The Hamilton Jet was still a relatively new and exciting invention; George Begg lived down the road and sometimes tested his internationally competitive racing cars past our house; Burt Munro was breaking speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats and the prefabricated Lockwood homes (see image above) were popping up all over the place. New Zealand was often referred to as the Scandinavia of the Pacific because of our egalitarian society and our reputation for design and innovation.
We are no longer an egalitarian society and our reputation for innovation still just exists, but not because of Government investment (we commit around half the average for the OECD on research and development). Government procurement is now favoring cheap overseas tenders, which has had a detrimental effect on our skilled workforce. Our education system no longer encourages creativity and the technology and science learning areas of our curriculum have been pushed aside because of the focus on literacy and numeracy and data driven systems. It is too hard to measure creativity and technological talent.
The Green Party's latest announcement of awarding $1 million for innovative building design using hi-tech wood is a step in the right direction. It has been over 60 years since Lockwood Homes revolutionized the local building industry using an abundant natural resource and its about time we starting playing to all our strengths. Our talented innovators shouldn't be forced to sit on the reserves benches when we we are trying to compete in global markets and meet our domestic needs.