About Us

From 2017 to 2021, the Aotearoa New Zealand Science Journalism Fund paid more than $100,000 to journalists and science communicators throughout Aotearoa.

We are currently on hiatus and will review the science journalism landscape and may be back – if needed!  in the future.


The Aotearoa New Zealand Science Journalism Fund is the first independent journalism fund dedicated to furthering coverage of the science-related issues that impact New Zealanders.

It is open to all professional journalists working for mainstream media outlets (newspapers and magazines, TV, radio and news websites) as well as freelancers who collaborate with mainstream news outlets, or experienced science communicators partnering with media outlets. We’re looking to support science journalism projects that tackle issues in the public interest, that are too costly for mainstream media outlets to undertake alone.


Rebecca Priestley, with Rt Hon Bill English, receiving her prize (Photo by Mark Tantrum)

The fund was founded by Dr Rebecca Priestley from Victoria University of Wellington, who was awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize in recognition of her 20+ year career in the sector.

Rebecca co-founded the Centre for Science in Society at Victoria University with Dr Rhian Salmon, and teaches undergraduate courses in science communication and creative science writing, and leads a Master of Science in Society programme. She is the author or co-author of nine books on the history of science, including Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica, The Awa Book of New Zealand Science, Mad on Radium: New Zealand in the Atomic Age, and Dispatches from Continent Seven: an anthology of Antarctic science. Rebecca has written science features for New Zealand Geographicthe Conversation, and the New Zealand Listener, where she wrote a regular science column between 2010 and 2016.

Her motivation for setting up this fund is simple, “We want to support journalism that highlights the science that underpins, or informs, major issues facing our society”.

The fund is managed by Dr Sarah-Jane O’Connor – science communication teaching fellow, Victoria University of Wellington.

The judges for the January 2021 funding round:

Rebecca Priestley, Victoria University of Wellington

Dacia Herbulock, Science Media Centre

Tara Ross, University of Canterbury

James Renwick, Victoria University of Wellington

Pauline Harris, Victoria University of Wellington


In-depth coverage of important science-related issues is increasingly difficult for the mainstream media to resource. New media business models favour ‘infotainment’ and sensationalism but in-depth and investigative journalism is still a core service of most mainstream media outlets.

And in this environment, science too often loses out. Despite recent surveys showing that that New Zealanders are interested in science, and engage with it via media outlets, many still struggle to understand its role in their daily lives. So, it’s become clear that New Zealanders need accessible, independent coverage of complex and fast-changing science, environment, health and technology-related issues.

The Science Journalism Fund will support journalism that makes that link between major issues facing society, and the science that underpins or informs them.


The latest round of funding was opened in December 2020, with applications closing 25 January, 2021.

This round is supported by Ngā Rākau – Bioheritage National Science Challenge, and the Earthquake Commission.

Find out more about how to apply, or how to contribute to future funding rounds.


If you are a professional journalist or science communicator, with a story to tell, you can apply for the Aotearoa New Zealand Science Journalism Fund right here – check your eligibility, read all guidelines for applicants and complete the form on the ‘Apply’ page linked below. Good Luck!