Centring Our Values: Open Access for Aotearoa
New Zealand invests billions of dollars each year in research that is locked behind the paywalls of large academic publishers. Tohatoha wants to see a New Zealand where the work of our scholars, scientists and researchers is open and available for everyone to read, share, and reuse. To realise this vision, New Zealand needs a national strategy to open the work of our publicly funded scholars, scientists, and researchers. Done well, this strategy will contribute to improved policy making, help to educate the electorate, and support practitioners in a wide range of professions, while also strengthening New Zealand’s economy by providing access to R&D to the private sector. This work is also crucial to the work of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Facing up to the enormous responsibility of just transition and getting the work underway requires widespread access to knowledge, data, and information. Greater access and openness are key to unlocking the innovative potential of New Zealand society as we work together to reduce greenhouse gases. We also need to think very differently about research excellence. The Performance Based Research Fund is harming the well-being of our academic community, including Māori and Pacifika researchers. A new system that attends to the well-being of our researchers and scholars, while also redefining excellence in a way that is not tied into proprietary metrics, is crucial to opening up knowledge and building the kind of Aotearoa that shares the benefits of knowledge widely for the good of everyone. At the same time, we want to live in a New Zealand where the Crown fulfills its commitment as a Treaty partner by living up to the diversity and equity statements made by its universities. There is ample evidence that the system as it stands now creates specific harms for Māori scholars and scientists. Reimagining our scholarly communications system offers us the opportunity to develop a system where these inequities are rectified and remedied. Open access offers a path forward—one based in innovation, care, excellence, and honouring Tiriti.