The World of Pounamu

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?

The Scenario

Pounamu is set in 2022, in a world of fewer resources and more demands, but also of new capacities to connect, to share, and to create new knowledge and new solutions.

In 2022, the world will contain almost 1 billion more people, demand 20% more energy, 25% more water and 50% more food.  Energy, water and food are likely to be in short supply across the globe and to cost more.  At the same time, we will have lost millions of hectares of crop land, up to 60% of global fish stocks and thousands of species from the planet.

In 2022, skilled work will generate nine times more income than unskilled work. In the world of Pounamu, countries with highly educated citizens and the ability to support high skill businesses are prospering.  Because of their highly productive economies, they have the resources to provide high quality health care, to restore and enhance their natural environments, to build resilience to increasingly severe storms and droughts, and to reinvest in education at all ages.  Some are getting close to their vision of ensuring every child arrives at adulthood with all of their potential intact and ignited.

Countries without a sufficiently skilled population and economic base continue to lose their best and brightest to the places where both monetary rewards and quality of life are higher.  Their remittances are a growing contribution to these nations’ struggling economies.  In these countries, with insufficient resources to manage flood, storm and drought risk, whole regions have had to be abandoned, leading to overcrowding in many towns, cities and settlements.  There is simmering resentment between settled residents and displaced people, which often tips over into violent incidents.  There is also strong resentment towards the skilled foreign workers who do work in the few high skilled jobs in these countries.  This resentment is often expressed in racist terms.

New Zealand in 2022 hovers in the middle of this spread of countries, but has worked over the last decade to build understanding of science and technology across all communities and people of all ages.   It is now on the brink of becoming the most ‘science literate’ country in the world.  What can it do with this potential?

The challenge

In New Zealand, in 2022, we’ll have around 400, 000 more people (like adding another Auckland City or Christchurch) and we’ll also have an ageing population, with fewer people in the workforce to meet the needs of those who aren’t working any more

Unless we apply technology to our challenges and build the skills to move to high value work, as a country we won’t be able to afford basic needs. Instead we’ll have to make some hard choices, for example, between keeping rural roads open or funding drugs for Alzheimers; between education for the fortunate few, or mining the seabed to pay for education for all; between working at the cutting edge of your field or living in New Zealand.

At the same time, we have the capacity to connect, to share, and to create new knowledge and new solutions at a scale never experienced before in human history.  We have technology, from the level of manipulating sub-atomic particles, to printing molecules to connecting sensor networks across the world that can both generate revenue and create benefits for individuals and communities.  We already have examples of high-tech, high return global businesses operating from New Zealand.

What if, in 2022, everyone in New Zealand had the science and technology knowledge to work in this way?

The future here today: Find out what Kiwis are already doing from New Zealand


Aeroqualdesign and build high quality sensors to monitor air quality and to detect gases, even if they are only there in minute quantities.  Their monitors are used for a very wide range of tasks: from measuring roadside pollution and feeding information into smart systems that monitor traffic flows, to monitoring ozone levels in food stores to make sure produce stays fresh and healthy for as long as possible. They are world leaders in their field and export globally from Auckland.

Polar Bear Farm

Polar Bear Farm started the mobile app revolution.  As soon as the iphone was announced, they saw the potential for rich mobile applications and developed the technology, from Christchurch, New Zealand.  They now have 10 million customers using their apps for ipad and iphone.


Magritek design and build compact instruments that can look inside and measure a range of different items, such as rocks, chemicals and plants to give really detailed information about what they are made of using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance or Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology.  The company was established in 2004 and now exports instruments to customers all over the world.


SmallWorld.Com provides browser-based on-line worlds.  Established in 2009, they have 7 million customers globally, 99% of whom are overseas.

What do the whakatauki (proverbs) in the video mean?

Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi
Without foresight or vision the people will be lost

He iti te toki e rite ana ki te tangata
A little adze can do as much work as a man

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