Don Brash's 2025 Taskforce made a range of recommendations about how our economy could catch up with Australia.
Its ideas, which included slashing Government spending met with widespread condemnation.
Stuart McCuthcheon, University of Auckland Vice Chancellor, is the first of a range of New Zealanders approached by nzherald.co.nz to share their thoughts on how we can shorten the gap.
Stuart McCutcheon, University of Auckland Vice Chancellor:
It's the year 2030. Our dairy industry is flat-out exporting infant foods that increase the IQ of children, while also reducing their risks of heart disease and diabetes as adults.
The world's rapidly growing electric vehicle fleet is being charged by New Zealand cordless induction power technology. The same technology is powering artificial hearts in people worldwide who have heart failure, part of our country's growing medical devices industry.
The latest New Zealand cancer drug, which destroys the blood flow to tumours, is the best selling cancer therapy of the decade. Other drugs invented by Kiwis are dealing to the scourges of tuberculosis, diabetes and Alzheimer's.
Antimicrobial plastics, created in New Zealand, are becoming the gold standard for medical technologies, hospital buildings, and food preparation businesses.
As a source of exceptional innovation for a knowledge-hungry world, we are generating billions in export earnings. Research is an industry in its own right, creating a multitude of high paying jobs.
Australia may be the "lucky country", with its vast mineral wealth, but New Zealand is now the "clever country".
Fanciful? Not in the least - all these technologies are under development at The University of Auckland, and many others at universities around the country.
Over the last thirty years, our educational institutions have created a $2.3 billion per annum export education industry - now the fifth largest export earner in the country. We can surely do it again with research.
So what would I do to bring about this change?
I would invest in education, valuing our teachers - from pre-school to professors - as the professionals they truly are. I would focus on supporting our most able students to continue on to postgraduate study and research careers, rather than terminating the very scholarships that keep our best doctoral students in New Zealand, as the government has recently done.
Sadly New Zealand has been reducing its investment in the tertiary education of each student for 20 years, choosing instead to directly support students, most recently with interest free loans. This must inevitably compromise the quality of education and research at a time when other countries are investing heavily in these areas.
I would concentrate our research investment on "blue skies" projects, the kind that will create radical innovation, and with it undreamt-of opportunities.
After all, the single most important technology in New Zealand's history, refrigeration, came out not because of attempts to preserve dairy and meat products so they could be exported - though that was what it achieved - but rather from fundamental university research on the thermodynamics of expanding gases.
At present our research funding is focused on solving short term problems for existing industries, and our businesses do not see research as a priority. I would devote a part of our superannuation fund to supporting the development of new technologies and industries, as the Australians have done.
Which brings me to something else I would do - increase the parliamentary term to five years. Without that change, we will continue to see public policy driven by short term political expediency, and we will continue to fall behind Australia. Which, of course, is exactly what is happening.