For we are not the only institution to have suffered in these times. All of us must have regretted what we have read in the press from time to time of the losses and restrictions of work suffered by such institutions as Massey College and the Cawthron Institute. Now the increasing complexity of the world's industry and affairs demands a higher proportion of educated people, and these educated to a higher degree. And to the progress of the material welfare of the people research is essential. There is no end to the problems that have to be solved. To use the words of Sir J. Arthur Thomson, whose recent death we lament to-day, “Whenever one is more or less solved, another crops up. The world becomes more and more intelligible, but there are always peaks beyond peaks. And besides puzzles which will disappear like cloudlets in the light of more facts, and besides half-solved problems, many of the fundamentals are elusive and mysterious.”
The nation is not true to its best interests that allows either its educational or research facilities to be starved. Since we last met, the North American Review, writing of the operations of the Guggenheim Fund of £4,500,000, whose chief object is the financing of research and other creative work, remarks: “In a given length of time this assuredly will have its effect. This fund represents a faith in intellect as an investment. While the factories hum and the steel mills roar, the lamp of the student is kept lit and his mind is eased in the hope that a return will soon be forthcoming.”
In Canada, again, the report of the National Research Council for 1930–1 states that, although industry has been under a cloud, the annual expenditure of the Council in assisting research amounted to no less than £550,000; and “Nature” remarks that “it is evident Canada is building up a corps of research workers whose influence on the future of her industries is likely to be most important.”
The large number of cases in which the chairmen of British banks have been emphasising the importance of research in their recent addresses to shareholders almost suggests a concerted scheme to educate the British public on the question. This should hardly be needed. The extraordinary developments that have taken place in some British industries, arising directly from research, and especially in the case of textiles and metals, ought to have been sufficient, if anything were needed, to inspire in Britain also that same “faith in intellect as an investment.” Those of us who have the interests of New Zealand at heart will at least hope that any such similar faith that exists here will be quickened, and not damped, by the adverse circumstances of the time. Research is not a luxury to be indulged in merely when we are prosperous; it is a necessity to be most insisted on just when we find it most difficult to provide the means. If our faith in intellect as an investment were what it ought to be, and equal to what we find in many other places, the provision for research would not be the cause to suffer first, and to suffer most, from the advent of diminished prosperity.