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2020 Annual Report

In the two days before Aotearoa New Zealand entered Alert Level 4 lockdown in late March, we instructed NIWA staff to take whatever they needed from the office to enable them to work from home for the foreseeable future.

NIWA 2019/20 Annual Report cover
Download the 2019/20 Annual Report [PDF 2.9MB]

They walked out carrying monitors, keyboards, chairs – and, occasionally, even their desks. It was impossible to forecast what would happen in the extraordinary days and weeks to come, but there was one thing we were certain of – our people would be committed to ensuring NIWA continued to provide the freshwater, climate and ocean science the nation needed.

Our transition to Level 4 lockdown status was almost seamless. NIWA’s environmental science focus means we have always had a strong commitment to ensuring our staff are well-equipped technologically to carry out their work wherever they need to be. This gave us a considerable head start in adapting to working from home, and that advantage was enhanced by an outstanding technology support team.

All essential services continued to operate – in Wellington our supercomputers remained under continuous supervision, and in Ruakaka our kingfish and hāpuku still had to be fed. Field work, however, was put on hold, and our research vessels returned to port.

The ease with which our people shifted to working from home was reflected by NIWA managing to maintain a high level of productivity throughout lockdown.

Although some projects simply could not continue, we nonetheless had a springboard from which to launch our post-lockdown strategy.

In our 2019/20 Statement of Corporate Intent (SCI) we identified that the biggest opportunity for NIWA lay in the rapid advances of digital technologies. We remain committed to prioritising this, but, of course, no one foresaw what was to come. Our 2020/21 SCI, therefore, refreshes our strategic priorities to ensure NIWA remains well positioned to help the nation build resilience to, and advance recovery from, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will prioritise the application of our knowledge, expertise and services to help accelerate the recovery of the New Zealand economy and society.

We are grateful for the funding boost for Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which is earmarked to help retain capability and ensure the continuity of critical science services and advice.

In the past year, the essential role of CRIs in New Zealand’s science system was recognised by an independent review commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. However, the Te Pae Kahurangi review also reported that some structural elements of the science system were not working well. We look forward to being part of the discussion on how best to resolve these as we all work together for the benefit of New Zealand.

Meanwhile, demand for our services continues to grow, and with staff movements and market shifts we are constantly reappraising where we focus our resources. A reflection of this was the creation of 17 new permanent positions during the year, taking our total staff to 702.

Restricted working arrangements during lockdown, and lower spending by our customers, resulted in revenue being

$14.7 million lower than budget. This impact was partly offset by the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund payment, resulting in an overall revenue shortfall to budget of $6.5 million.

This shortfall was partially offset by careful cost control, resulting in our full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $31.2 million and net profit after tax of $7.4 million. Both these results would not have been achievable without the support from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Please refer to our NIWA 2020 Year in Review for the complete Chairman & Chief Executive's review of NIWA's 2019-20 year.

Download

NIWA 2020 Year in Review [PDF 9MB]

NIWA 2019-20 Annual Report [PDF 2.9MB]