Proposed University of Waikato Coastal and Marine Research and Education Centre

The University of Waikato is seeking to establish a new multidisciplinary Coastal and Marine Research and Education Centre.

The Centre will build on the work of the existing Field Station and host ground-breaking research in science, engineering, environmental and social impact, technological innovation, and wider public education and engagement.

The Centre will be unique in New Zealand and the only marine research and education facility focused on resilience and restoration of our urbanised coasts, situated adjacent to the country’s largest commercial port.

Tauranga City Council is considering the possibility of providing a site on Marine Park at Sulphur Point to enable the University of Waikato to establish a new marine research and educational facility.  Public consultation on the proposal to revoke recreation reserve status from an area of land at Marine Park will be carried out in November and December 2018 to seek community feedback.

Why Sulphur Point?

Coastal research

Sea water of good quality is critical for sample processing, aquaria and tanks which are key components of marine research. Sulphur Point provides access to the best sea water in the harbour. The site also provides proximity to a deep sea channel connected to the harbour entrance and 24/7 access for research activity.

What would it look like?

We haven’t gone through the design process yet, as we need confirmation of the new location first. The design process will include collaboration with Tauranga Moana to acknowledge the cultural context, ensuring the facility respects and fits with the Marine Park environment, and consideration of the environmental impact.

The facility will be designed to have zero effective impact on the environment apart from the footprint on land. Sea water used in research will be returned to the sea in the same or better condition. The facility would also maintain a marine biosecurity capacity that would be designed for zero discharge to the environment (as is currently consented).

It's anticipated the building will be two stories high and approximately 2,400sqm with yard space for mobile containerised specialist laboratories, tanks for growing marine organisms outside, boat storage, and washdown areas.

Artist’s impression

Artist’s impression of what the proposed facility might look like.

What would the new facility contain?

The new Centre will enable the University to expand our world-leading research in coastal and marine ecosystems, and will include temperature-controlled laboratories, PC2 aquarium capability, and bio-molecular and microbial handling facilities.

The Centre will house laboratories for environmental engineering, and design workshops to enable design and testing of engineering solutions for regional issues.

The facility will include a public education with live feed cameras in the harbour, education programmes, and an aquarium showcasing marine species. Collaborative research and seminar spaces will be available for our national and international partners and the community.

The Science of Māui

The Science of Māui (right): Year 10 rangatahi Māori of  local colleges and kura kaupapa participated in a day of science at the University of Waikato Coastal Marine Field Station in July 2018.

What’s in it for Tauranga?

A purpose-built Marine Research and Education Centre at Sulphur Point will provide huge benefits to Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty region.  These include:

  • increasing the international profile and reputation of Tauranga
  • attracting international researchers and other experts to work on issues pertinent to Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty
  • increasing the opportunities for companies to generate new commercial activity in the region from research in pharmaceutical, nutritional and agrichemical innovation
  • enhancing rapid response capability to events such as oil spills
  • providing practical marine and coastal engineering solutions to future port development, climate change, coastal protection, flood risk management, effluent control, and water management issues
  • building an understanding of the coastal and marine environments in the wider public and school children
  • providing a national centre focused on urbanised coasts, conservation, sustainability, and restoration.