Taking the Pounamu conversation forward

What if, in 2022, everyone in New Zealand could use science as easily as they can use a computer now? What would you create? Who would you work with? What would you invest in? What problems would you solve? What would you help to change?

Creating a better future for New Zealand


On 7 & 8 June hundreds of people from all over New Zealand came together in an on-line game in the future world of Pounamu to find thousands of answers to the question:


“How do we treasure and build on what we already have – land, people, knowledge and connections – with new tools, new capacities, new connections and new ways of thinking to generate prosperity for all?”


The players ranged from 12 year old school students to senior scientists, playing in diverse locations, from rural settlements, to small towns to our biggest urban centres.  Together they posted 4,688 miro-forecasts in twitter posts.  They built on each others’ cards to explore ideas and take them further.


The data from the conversation is available here in two formats:





So what happens next?


Here are a few ideas to start with:


Take the data from the game and explore it more deeply.  We welcome everyone to use it to help them in their own projects and communities.  We’d love you to apply your own analysis tools to the data and share the results back through the game blog. (You can explore and use the data whether you played the game or not.)


As everyone goes through the next few days and weeks, thinking about the conversations they had in the game, let us know, via the game blog, about any decisions you make to do something, do something differently or stop doing something as a result of playing the game.  


The game organizers are in the process of putting together a competition for students in which participants would use the data from the conversation to develop actionable projects.  Let us know if you could help to support the competition and keep an eye out for announcements if you’d like to compete!


What was Pounamu about?


Pounamu was set in 2022, in an imaginary future New Zealand.   It was a world of more demands and fewer resources.  It explored the proposition that unless we build the skills to move to high value work, as a country, we won’t be able to pay for everything we’d like and we’ll have to make some hard choices: keeping rural roads open or funding drugs for Alzheimers; education for the fortunate few, or mining the seabed to pay for education for all; working at the cutting edge of your field OR living in New Zealand.


It asked players to consider what we could do, for ourselves and others, if New Zealand was the most science literate country in the world? Could we find ways to make a living without damaging the New Zealand environment?  If, in 2022, everyone in New Zealand was smart about science – what could you do to make New Zealand a place where YOU and other talented people like you want to live?


Watch the game video to find out more:






When did the game run?


The game ran from:


8:30am – 9pm on 7 June 2012
8:30am – 12noon on 8 June 2012


Who could play?


Everybody!  The game was for anyone who wants to think about a future for New Zealand where we use new approaches to tackle a world of more demands and fewer resources and create the best paths forward. 


Mā tini mā mano ka rapa te whai.
By many, by thousands, the work (project) will be accomplished.


Why was Pounamu being run?


From June 6-8 delegates from science, business, iwi and government communities gathered at the Transit of Venus Forum in Gisborne to hear some of New Zealand’s leading thinkers advance Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision for New Zealand – a place where talent wants to live – a community that is prosperous and inclusive.   Pounamu was run to take the conversation out beyond the physical walls of the forum and involve New Zealanders from all walks of life in the conversation about creating our shared future


The game ran alongside the forum sessions. Questions and ideas from the forum discussions were  fed into the online conversation. Ideas, challenges and future possibilities from the game conversation were fed back to the forum.   The game provided an opportunity for all New Zealanders to contribute to the conversation and for a wide range of different understandings and knowledge to be brought together to imagine futures for New Zealand.  There was particular encouragement for younger New Zealanders to add their voices to the discussion.


Who ran Pounamu?


The Pounamu game was sponsored by the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, StratEDGY Strategic Foresight and the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, with support from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Futures Trust.  The game was run with the support of the Institute for the Future on their ‘Foresight Engine’.




The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology


The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology brings together the best scientists from around the country to develop new technologies using the latest breakthroughs in physics, chemistry and engineering. The Institute develops and applies cutting edge science to build innovative materials, devices and products from atoms and molecules. The Institute is a partnership between five universities and two Crown Research Institutes, and has scientists in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.




StratEDGY Strategic Foresight


StratEDGY is a Strategic Foresight Consultancy providing a wide range of anticipation, change and adaptation services. StratEDGY helps people to think about the future in ways that are useful today, build their capacities for change and turn futures thinking into futures action. 




New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO


The National Commission works to promote UNESCO’s vision, goals and programmes within New Zealand and the Pacific. The National Commission’s vision is “Action for peace and social justice through education, the natural, social and human sciences, culture, communications and information.”




The Royal Society of New Zealand


The Royal Society of New Zealand has been advancing and promoting science, technology, and the humanities in New Zealand since 1867. The Society promotes, invests in and celebrates excellence in people and ideas, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.






New Zealand Futures Trust


The New Zealand Futures Trust is an independent non-profit futuring organisation.  Established in 1982,it is New Zealand’s oldest independent futuring institution.  NZFT’s aim is to provide credible, timely information on major changes likely to impact on ways of life, particularly in New Zealand, and to promote discussion in the wider community on how New Zealanders might best react to them.




The Insitute for the Future


The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent nonprofit research group. IFTF works with organizations of all kinds to help them make better, more informed decisions about the future. IFTF provides the foresight to create insights that lead to action.




Pounamu is being run with the support of the Institute for the Future on their ‘Foresight Engine’.  The Foresight Engine is a platform for bringing people together to think about issues that are important to them in ways that pool different knowledge and perspectives. 


Designed by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal the Foresight Engineis a powerful but easy-to-use gaming environment for imagining many different futures. Players use cards to play Twitter-style ideas for new futures for New Zealand. They can build on one another’s cards to create long card chains. Each chain builds better ideas as players debate them, extend them, and pose questions about them. The longer the chains, the richer the ideas—and the more points players win.


Unlike some conventional approaches to thinking about the future that focus only on analytical approaches, the Foresight Engine allows people to build ideas together inside a game.  Sometimes the best way to imagine creative responses, shift our thinking, rekindle optimism and move towards action is by gaming and having fun and the Foresight Engine provides the platform for this to happen.