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Proceedings of the First Symposium on Marsupials in New Zealand

Topic 12: Funding Of Marsupial Research

page 275

Topic 12: Funding Of Marsupial Research

CUMMINS. Sir Robert Falla's reference to funding for research on 1080 and non-target species brings up the matter of funding marsupial research in general. Most of us in the universities are wondering whether University Grants Committee funding has gone the way of the black robin.

MORIARTY. Yes, the U.G.C. certainly has got some sort of a pretty torrid recession. One gets up against a financial brick wall which one gets tired of banging one's head against. I think this symposium has highlighted so many areas where the universities could play a role or DSIR could play a role. We are so much restricted by lack of funding that the problem just about becomes insurmountable.

CUMMINS. As the people involved in marsupial research we have not as yet functioned as a unified pressure group.

MORIARTY. Not in the least. I think that a unified front would be desirable. In our case at Massey we tried for U.G.C. money - well it's not there so it doesn't exist. The only other source of supply is the Medical Research Council, for particular projects in which we are involved, and their funding is of course restricted.

CUMMINS. There must be some other ideas on our functioning as a unified pressure group or bringing some pressure to bear on Government to increase funding for basic or applied research.

YOUNG. At Auckland University we have and do entertain hopes of money from government agencies; we have received considerable support from them, and also from Golden Kiwi. The government agencies themselves are under pressure and are obviously not going to pass money off into our accounts, when they require it themselves. I think if we get involved in a big 1080 reassessment this might be because they want an assessment that would be considered independent, unbiased, and more sensitive. We would certainly like to get into that area.

SPRINGETT. As a newcomer I wonder if we could derive a rough order of magnitude for the total expenditure on research on possums since say 1972 in relation to the $6 million income into this country from the fur trade.

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CUMMINS. That would be a very useful exercise but I doubt if we have the time to contribute much now. Dr Coleman how do you see this problem of funding to basic or to applied science?

COLEMAN. I certainly do not disbelieve that the research going on in the universities or in Ecology Division, DSIR is not going to support the management people in the future. Because we seem to be in a position of wanting to destroy possums throughout New Zealand, I do not wish to knock pure or less-applied research on the head. There is obviously room for both pure and applied research.