Get off the Grass Launched

Get off the Grass Launched

On Thursday 15th August, more than two hundred people turned up at Victoria University of Wellington to see the launch of Get Off the Grass, a book that was co-written by the late Sir Paul Callaghan and MacDiarmid Institute investigator, Professor Shaun Hendy.

At the launch Victoria University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Neil Quigley, spoke about the importance of Sir Paul’s contribution to the economic debate in New Zealand.  Sam Elworthy, the Director of Auckland University Press, the book’s publisher, talked about the huge impact made by Sir Paul’s 2009 book, Wool to Weta.

“I am very sad that Paul wasn’t here to see the end of this project, which we started together two years ago”, said Hendy, “but I think he would have been very satisfied with the final product.”

The launch was followed by a 45 minute talk from Professor Hendy, in which he discussed some of the book’s main points.

The book has generated considerable media interest with coverage on Morning Report, TV3 and the New Zealand Herald. It’s release was particularly timely given the botulism contamination scare at Fonterra, which has revealed how exposed New Zealand’s economy is to its dependence on the dairy sector. “It may have taken a dirty pipe to show us the way, but many people would now agree diversifying our economy should be a top priority,” said Hendy. “Strengthening our science and innovation system will be essential in achieving this.”

Find out more about the background of this book and its authors in this fortnight’s edition of “From the Director”.

What’s it about?

‘Science is the compass on the voyage we must all make into the twenty-first century.’

– Sir Paul Callaghan, 2012

Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan take a quantitative look at how innovation works both in New Zealand and around the world. They show that economic geography plays a key role in determining rates of innovation and productivity. If New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly it must overcome geography to build nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses. It must get off the grass and diversify its economy beyond the primary sector. Hendy and Callaghan pose deep challenges to the country: Can New Zealand learn to innovate like a city of four million people? Can New Zealand become a place where talent wants to live? Can we learn to live off knowledge rather than nature? Are we willing to take science seriously?

In a brilliant intellectual adventure that takes us from David Ricardo and Adam Smith to economic geography and the science of complex networks, Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan pose the tough questions and provide some powerful answers for New Zealand’s future.

More on the book, published by Auckland University Press


Professor Shaun Hendy (Profile)

Firstline interviews Shaun, 15 August 2013

Victoria University promotes the launch

John Key and Shaun hold alternative views on the matter (Morning Report interview)

Shaun Hendy on Our Changing World

Shaun Hendy on Radio Live