Wednesday Aug 30, 2023

Feeding Aotearoa - a National Science Challege Panel Talk

Live recording from NZISF 2023

There’s arguably little else more important than ensuring an adequate and healthy food supply for our people, and in our changing world, food systems will need to adapt. This panel will address the question: how can New Zealand move towards a food system that contributes positively to health, wellbeing, the economy and the environment? Panelists will discuss the current state of our food systems on land and at sea, and talk about what research is being undertaken to drive positive change.



Dr Julie Hall - Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge
Joanne Todd - High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge
Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu - Healthier Lives National Science Challenge
Dr Jenny Webster-Brown - Our Land & Water National Science Challenge
Dr Phil Wiles - Deep South National Science Challenge

Moderator: Niki Bezzant

Established in 2014, the eleven government-funded National Science Challenges are cross-disciplinary, mission-led programmes designed to tackle New Zealand’s biggest science-based challenges. As they enter their final year of funding, representatives of each Science Challenge will gather in Dunedin across four nights to discuss some of the impactful research that has come out of these initiatives and how it is being applied across Aotearoa for the benefit of us all.

Panelist Bios:

Julie Hall: Director of the Sustainable Seas NSC Julie Hall has extensive experience in biological oceanography, leading large multidisciplinary research projects, and in the management of people and projects. Her scientific background is in food web dynamics in both marine and freshwater ecosystems with a special interest in microbial food webs. As the international chair of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) project she was responsible for leading the development and implementation of the multidisciplinary Science Plan that addressed the interaction of marine biogeochemistry and ecosystems and their response to global change. In addition, Julie has broad knowledge of marine observation systems, data management and the integration of observations and models, along with extensive project and people management experience.

Joanne Todd is Director of the High-Value Nutrition Science Challenge. She joined the Challenge from Fonterra Co-operative Ltd where, for over 20 years, she held several nutrition and management roles with a focus on combining business development, science, regulatory and marketing activities, with an emphasis on Asian export markets. She has led and developed globally based cross-functional teams to deliver on a portfolio of projects and has built consumer insight, clinical research, and product development programmes that have delivered successful commercial outcomes increasing revenue for Fonterra’s consumer brands business. Her experience includes work across many areas including maternal, paediatric, immunity and mobility platforms, bringing vast experience in consumer-led innovation, combined with commercial acumen and understanding of the global consumer goods market and international regulatory environments. 

Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu - University of Auckland
Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu trained in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and worked as a clinical Dietitian before doing a PhD in Public Health Nutrition. She directs a research programme in population nutrition with a focus on food environment interventions and policies such as nutrition labelling, food taxes, and food reformulation. Cliona is Director of the Dietary Interventions: Evidence & Translation (DIET) research programme, Deputy Director of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, and leads a team developing the tools and methods for the next New Zealand Nutrition Survey. She is a member of the Trans-Tasman Health Star Rating Advisory Committee and a Food Standards Australia New Zealand Fellow.

Dr Jenny Webster-Brown
Jenny Webster-Brown is the current Director of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge.  Her career as a water quality scientist spans nearly 40 years, and encompasses research, teaching and consultancy, focussing on the impacts of land use and natural resource exploitation on natural freshwater systems.  She worked with DSIR Chemistry Division,  ESR and the University of Auckland,  before moving to Canterbury in 2010 to take up the position of Professor of Water Resource Management, and set up the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management; a joint University of Canterbury/Lincoln University teaching and research centre.   She commenced her role with OLW National Science Challenge in May 2020. 

Dr Phil Wiles
Phil has a background in climate science and policy.  He spent 20 years doing oceanographic research in regions from the poles to the equator, including 6 years working on climate change and environmental issues in the Pacific Islands.  For the past 10 years, Phil has worked for Central Government on how to address climate change, including helping to establish the Climate Change Commission.  Phil has been Te Kōmata o te Tonga / Deep South National Science Challenge Director since February 2022.

Moderator Niki Bezzant is a multi-award-winning New Zealand writer, journalist, speaker and author who has built a reputation for translating complex health and science jargon into easy-to-understand information for everyone. Her book This Changes Everything, published in 2022 by Penguin Random House, is the result of two years of research and has topped the bestseller list in NZ. Niki is a frequent contributor to New Zealand’s top print, online and broadcast media. She founded and edited the Cuisine website before becoming founding editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine, taking that title from an independent start-up to New Zealand’s top-selling food magazine, a position it held for over a decade.

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