Last edited 3 years ago
by Shane Orchard

Supporting Citizen Science in NZ


In addition to the organisations that run citizen science projects (see examples here) and online platforms such as iNaturalist, CatchIT and TrapNZ, there are several key organisations involved in supporting citizen science groups with project establishment, design and funding needs.

Citizen Science Association of Aotearoa New Zealand #CitSciNZ

The Citizen Science Association of Aotearoa New Zealand was formalised in August 2019. The Association builds on the many citizen science workshops that have taken place since 2015 around NZ, for example, a pilot workshop (2015), coastal and marine workshop (2016), series of #CitSciNZ Working Group meetings (2016 – 2018) and CitSci Think Tank meetings (2018 - 2019). Over this time, a series of themes and actions emerged, one of which was to create a central body to progress, support and promote the citizen science movement in NZ. CSAANZ founding members represent a cross-section of key groups currently involved in promoting, coordinating and researching citizen science initiatives across the country. These include government agencies, consultancies, NGOs, universities, community Trusts and funders. The hashtag #CitSciNZ was developed to bring together the diverse range of New Zealand-based citizen science activities.   

Birds New Zealand

Birds NZ is the Ornithological Society of NZ which runs a wide range of projects both at national and regional levels. Volunteer Birds NZ members have been collecting valuable data for over half a century, which considerably per-dates usage of the ‘citizen science’ term! The society was established in 1940, with the overall goal ‘to create a nation-wide study group with individual members or groups working on different aspects of ornithology as suits their interests or circumstances and all contributing to the sum of ornithological knowledge’. National projects include wader counts, arctic wader colour banding, moult and nest recording schemes, reporting rare birds, and the NZ National Banding Scheme. To date, over 25,000 records have been collected on the beach patrol programme, the earliest record collected on 17 March 1943 at Ohariu Bay, Wellington.  

MBIE’s Nation of Curious Minds

Curious Minds is a New Zealand Government initiative with a ten-year goal of encouraging and enabling better engagement with science and technology for all New Zealanders.

It is underpinned by a national strategic plan for 'science in society' called A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara that was published in 2014. The main objective of the plan is to encourage and support all New Zealanders to engage with science and technology. The initiative has been developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), with input from the Ministry of Education and the Office of Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

Participatory Science Platform

The Participatory Science Platform (PSP) provides a major source of support for ‘participatory science’ projects in NZ. As explained on the Curious Minds website, these projects exemplify “a method of undertaking scientific research where volunteers can be meaningfully involved in the development and progression of locally relevant research projects with science and technology professionals. It goes beyond the idea of scientists crowd-sourcing their data, to build a true partnership between scientists/technologists and the broader community”.

The programme has been running since 2015 as a pilot project within three focus areas (South Auckland, Taranaki and Otago) that represent different audiences and regional themes.

Unlocking Curious Minds

In addition to the PSP, the Unlocking Curious Minds programme provides is a contestable fund that supports innovative, quality projects which provide opportunities to learn about and engage with science and technology.

It has a particular focus on projects that enhance or broaden the connection and engagement of 'hard to reach' New Zealanders by supporting education and community outreach initiatives that focus on science and technology, broadening participants’ ability to engage with science and technology and its relevance in their lives, and encouraging engagement in societal debate about current science and technology issues.


MAIN Trust is a Charitable Trust that has been set up to support citizen and community science in the project development stage, and by providing online mapping services for community use.

MAIN Trust hosts a community GIS platform and database to support data analysis and mapping, and provide a home for a large volume of community-generated information including the amazing TERRAIN pages of NZ biodiversity information created by Phil Bendle. We also help many groups with the design and funding of new ideas.

The CitSciHub is one of our recent projects with the support of TSB.

We hope you find the Hub to be a useful and interactive resource. Please feel encouraged to get involved and share your information through the CitSciWiki, Resource and Project Directory portals.

See more information on how you can add your content here.