New Zealand scientists have voiced fears over the United States' new administration, with one sector association arguing that efforts to get more science in society had veered toward "street warfare".

The country's leading body for the sciences, the Royal Society of New Zealand, has also highlighted its concerns over how restrictions to access to the US, just ordered by US President Donald Trump, would affect researchers.

The concerns come amid a wave of unease among many scientists about some of the new administration's early moves, which have included a new review of studies and data published by scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency and restrictions enforced on federal agencies on communicating with the public.

But the independent New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS), aired wider concerns over impacts on human rights, including Trump's ban on visitors from seven majority-Muslim nations.


In a statement, the NZAS claimed the administration was using "new, and seriously partisan, media to deconstruct science".

"There are so many, many challenges facing our species," NZAS president Dr Craig Stevens said.

"Population, climate, equality, health, environment and more besides. It's one thing to make science struggle to support and justify its activities - that is only appropriate. It is quite another to actively hunt it down and tear down truths."

While the NZAS last year chose to target the theme of science in society for this year, the body didn't realise "this was going to become street warfare".

Stevens said there would be global demonstrations in the coming months, with a New Zealand "march for science" scheduled for April 22.

"This is not just scientists protesting about science funding - it is about the serious consequences for all of us if science - and other forms of scholarship - are ignored and undermined," he said.

"2017 is also an election year and a time when we need to support the values we want for the future."

Separately, the Royal Society of New Zealand released a statement targeted at the new US travel restrictions and how this would impact international research.

"It is of grave concern to the New Zealand research community when events elsewhere in the world put at risk the research endeavour that is most critical to the future of humanity, including the recent restrictions on access to the United States," society president Professor Richard Bedford said.

As the US played a significant role within international research activity, with many international projects and conferences based there, there was a "significant risk" that the advancement of knowledge in many critical fields would "be hampered if the whole global research community cannot gather and openly share new knowledge".

"The New Zealand research community openly welcomes the contributions of researchers from all over the world because the pursuit of knowledge today is truly global," Bedford said.

"Diverse views and backgrounds enrich us and add strength to research and researchers from all countries have a part to play.

"We want New Zealand researchers to interact with researchers from all over the world."

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, has shared advice around science in policy and society.

In a new blog post titled "Scientific advice in a troubled world", Gluckman wrote of a complex science-policy "interface", along with other factors facing the sharing of science and information, including the impact of the digital world, and how people view information.

"The goal must be to separate good science from bad, to distil the overwhelming amount of information, to interpret confusing claims without alienating the audience and to protect trust in the scientific system and its processes," he wrote.

"In this, it is also, inevitably, about recasting the 'expert', not as an authoritarian 'elite', but as a reliable and authoritative voice with something valuable to contribute."