NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, is a Crown Research Institute established in 1992. It operates as a stand-alone company with its own Board of Directors and Executive.
What is a Crown Research Institute?
Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are Crown-owned companies established to undertake scientific research and related activities in accordance with the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992. The Shareholding Ministers are the Minister of Finance (50%), and the Minister of Research, Science & Technology (50%). CRIs are subject to the Crown Entities Act 2004, the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992, and the Companies Act 1993.
Key requirements on CRIs include:
- Carrying out research for the benefit of New Zealand
- Pursuing excellence
- Abiding by ethical standards
- Recognising social responsibility
- Operating as a good employer
- Maintaining financial viability
- Producing an Annual Report, which is tabled in Parliament
CRIs are stand-alone companies with a high degree of independence. Each year, the shareholding Ministers lay out their expectations for the Crown Research Institutes in an 'Operating Framework'. Amongst other things, this defines how CRIs should interpret their obligation to maintain financial viability. Shareholding Ministers assess NIWA's performance and actions against the expectations in this Operating Framework. The agency responsible for monitoring NIWA's performance is the Crown Company Monitoring and Advisory Unit, an independent unit within the New Zealand Treasury.