Crown Research Institutes

Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) were formed in 1992 from existing government-owned research organisations. Their role is to research and develop new science, knowledge, products and services  across the economic, environmental, social and cultural spectrum for the benefit of New Zealand.

Each CRI is aligned with a productive sector of the economy or a grouping of natural resources. 

Legal Name

Trading name

AgResearch Ltd


Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd


Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd

GNS Science  

Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research 

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd


The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd

Plant & Food Research 

New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd


 Crown Research Institutes:

  • are the largest providers of science research to the public and private sectors
  • focus on excellent, relevant and timely ideas and solutions – whether incremental or a step change
  • create new opportunities by delivering research and scientific and advisory services
  • develop new perspectives and tools for addressing challenges
  • create partnerships to bring together the best teams and resources from New Zealand and around the world
  • create high-quality ideas and solutions that make a practical difference for people’s wealth and wellbeing
  • identify and address science challenges affecting our lives
  • create economic, environmental and social wealth through science and its application in New Zealand and around the world


Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan Innovation was formed in February 2013. It has a particular focus on the high-value manufacturing sector and commercialisation.

Callaghan Innovation is a "business enabler”. It acts as both:

  • an intermediary by helping to build and foster capabilities within New Zealand’s innovation system; and
  • a service provider by building links between local and international research organisations and acting as a portal for access to research and development expertise, grants, and commercialisation support.

Callaghan Innovation has around 300 staff. These include; researchers, engineers, scientists, technologists, designers, entrepreneurs, advisors and administrators delivering support, on-demand services and tailored programmes. It provides:

  • access to experts
  • technology and product development
  • innovation skills
  • business collaborations
  • grants



CRI boards and management are accountable for allocating and prioritising resources in partnership with their sectors and in accordance with government objectives. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and employment (MBIE) is the Crown’s “ownership” agency responsible for monitoring the performance of the CRIs.


Accountability documents

Statement of Core Purpose

Each CRI has its own Statement of Core Purpose (SCP). The SCPs set out the CRIs' major areas of work and where and how they will work with others.

Statement of Corporate Intent

Each CRI also publishes an annual Statement of Corporate Intent (SCI) outlining how it will maximise its investment in research and development over the following 5-7 years. The SCIs are produced after consultation with each CRI’s sector stakeholders and are signed off by the CRIs’ shareholding Ministers on behalf of the Government.

Annual Report

CRIs’ SCPs and SCIs are available on their websites along with their Annual Reports to Parliament on their performance and highlights during the 1 July to 30 June financial year.


Key statistics for Crown Research Institutes

 Source: Annual Reports for the year ending 30 June 2022

CRI Head Office

Staff FTE

2022/23 Operating revenue $m

AgResearch Lincoln  666   178
ESR Kenepuru, Porirua  598   123
GNS Science Lower Hutt  507   119

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research

Lincoln  530   113
NIWA Auckland  685  186

Plant & Food Research

Auckland  975  185
Scion Rotorua  348   64








Crown Research Institutes earn revenue through commissions from local and central Government as well as domestic and overseas business, industry and community organisations wanting to make use of their expertise. They also receive funds through New Zealand’s contestable research funding regime.

Contestable funding (NZ Government)

In 2017 the Government moved from five-year to seven-year contracts for Crown Research Institutes' core funding  to align with the Government's National Statement of Science Investment (NSSI). These seven-year contracts were the first to be issued through MBIE's Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) and comprise a $1.2 billion investment.

Core funding for the CRIs comprises around 15% of the Government's total science investment.


Scale and function of government-owned research organisations

The CRIs undertake both ‘blue-sky’ and applied science research, as well as technology-oriented research and development. Members create knowledge that informs policy development and drives new commercial products and services.


Engagement with Māori

Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Science New Zealand and our members foster close relationships with Māori, whether via businesses, trusts, whanau, hapu or iwi.

Our members recognise the need for ongoing dialogue between science providers and Māori to build enduring partnerships and collaboration. All members have a dedicated Māori relationship manager.

Māori, as the tangata whenua (people of the land), have a special relationship as kaitiaki (guardians) of New Zealand’s flora, fauna, land, air and waters. Members consult on relevant research projects to ensure that Te Ao Māori, Tikanga Māori and Mātauranga Māori - Māori knowledge, values and world view - are acknowledged and respected. Dialogue and consultation with Māori play a vital role in research project planning and the application of results.