NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, is a Crown Research Institute established in 1992. It operates as a stand-alone company with its own Board of Directors and Executive. NIWA's mission is to conduct leading environmental science to enable the sustainable management of natural resources for New Zealand and the planet.
CRIs are stand-alone companies with a high degree of independence. Each year, the shareholding Ministers lay out their expectations for the Crown Research Institutes in an 'Operating Framework'. Amongst other things, this defines how CRIs should interpret their obligation to maintain financial viability. Shareholding Ministers assess NIWA’s performance and actions against the expectations in this Operating Framework. MBIE Institutional Performance, assisted by The Treasury, monitors CRIs on behalf of shareholding Ministers.
NIWA has more than 590 staff located throughout New Zealand and overseas. The profiles below provide an insight into what some of these staff do and what motivates them. Jochen Schmidt - Chief Scientist, is on a mission to reduce wasted effort by making information easy for anyone to get to. Schmidt, who is responsible for overseeing the management, storage and distribution of NIWA's science data, still vividly remembers a science job that took him the first six months just to find out what other scientists had done on the project beforehand. NIWA’s greatest asset are its scientists and technicians, who come from all over the world and hold expertise in a wide range of disciplines, from atmospheric science to zoology.
In 2007-08, NIWA employed 501 permanent researchers. In 2014, NIWA researchers contributed to more than 353 peer-reviewed science publications and delivered more than 639 science presentations and conference papers. In 2007, 12 NIWA climate scientists - Greg Bodeker, Matt Dunn, Rod Henderson, Darren King, Keith Lassey, David Lowe, Brett Mullan, Kath O'Shaughnessy, Guy Penny, Jim Renwick, Jim Salinger and David Wratt - shared the Nobel Peace Prize with other contributors to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. NIWA scientists also play a role in training future scientists (supervising 41 PhD and 10 MSc students in 2007-08) and in public outreach through talking about their science to community groups, school children, media, and the general public. They also contribute to professional development training courses for environmental agencies in New Zealand and the South Pacific.