Author(s): Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan
New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world. Get Off the Grass is about how we can change that. 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 tell us to 'get off the grass!' and start exporting knowledge rather than nature. The key to increasing New Zealand's prosperity, they argue, is innovation in high-tech niches. If we are going catch up with the countries that lure our young people away, we will need to learn to innovate like a city of four million people; we will need to start taking science seriously; we will need to start seeing ourselves as people of learning, not just of the land - and we will need to put our money where our mouths are.
I recently attended a talk by Shaun Hendy, who is the co-author of Get Off the Grass. Sadly, Paul Callagahan died before the book’s completion, but it carries many of his ideas about New Zealand's economic position and potential. The book initially looks at New Zealand's current economic position and the beliefs that surround it. It compares NZ with Denmark, which is of a similar size and in the 1990’s had a similar GDP and export configuration. In comparison with NZ, Denmark invested heavily in research and development and now has a significantly greater GDP and a very different export configuration, with a large component now being ‘innovative technologies’. The book then goes on to explore opportunities for New Zealand's economy, introduces the concept of innovative ecosystems, and looks at the improvements and changes that can be made. It is a refreshing look at ways of improving the economy and export potential, moving away from primary industry, which has been putting more and more pressure on our already overburdened environment. - Sarah
"Callaghan and Hendy have highlighted a critical issue--decades in which we have underinvested in both public and private sector investment in technological research and innovation. This is a welcome and timely contribution to the critical debate on how we are to become a more wealthy and healthy society." --Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister
Professor Shaun Hendy is deputy director of the MacDiarmid Institute and an Industry and Outreach Fellow at Industrial Research Ltd. In 2012 he won the Callaghan Medal and the Prime Minister's Science Media Communication Prize. Professor Sir Paul Callaghan (1947-2012; GNZM, FRS, FRSNZ) was one of New Zealand's most celebrated scientists. He was the 2011 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.