GNS Science will spend less of what it gets through a major government science fund on petroleum research and prioritise other areas such as natural hazards and better understanding the "lost continent" of Zealandia.

But the Crown research institute says it will continue to "maintain capability" in minerals and petroleum.

GNS chair Dr Nicola Crauford yesterday updated members of Parliament's Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee on a new strategic review looking into where the institute spent some of the $22 million it received through the Government's Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).

The $260m MBIE-administered fund accounts for approximately a quarter of GNS Science revenue and supports 12 of its programmes.


Crauford told the committee how SSIF-funded research had focused on resilience to natural hazards, understanding our geology and helping drive geologically based energy and minerals industries.

A "refreshed" strategic direction would shift focus to groundwater research, a new data management strategy, Vision Matauranga research and Zealandia, the submerged continent surrounding New Zealand that's only been recently recognised.

Hazards and risks would remain a priority under the shift in focus, but there would be less SSIF investment in petroleum and minerals research.

"This change in emphasis means GNS Science will reduce its investment of SSIF in some areas, including petroleum research, while continuing to maintain capability in this area," the institute's chief executive Ian Simpson said in a statement to the Herald.

According to its latest annual report, GNS Science currently invested $9.8m in petroleum resources research, and $2.8m in mineral resources research - accounting for 14 per cent of its total research funding.

As part of its new review, GNS was also looking at its executive leadership team and corporate support functions in the first half of this year.