EBOP to fund major University role

12 February 2010

Agreement Signing

MAJOR SIGNING: University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford signs the agreement with Environment Bay of Plenty to fund a Chair in Coastal Science. Watching is EBOP Chairman John Cronin.

Marine research in the Bay of Plenty has been given a huge boost with the announcement that the regional council will fund an important University of Waikato role.

Environment Bay of Plenty has committed to fund $1.5 million over 10 years for a University of Waikato Chair in Coastal Science.  A memorandum of agreement between the council and the university was signed on February 11 in Tauranga between the university's Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford and John Cronin, the Chairman of Enviroment Bay of Plenty.

A professorial chair is a named position in a university funded through a gift or endowment. It pays for the salary of the Chair, and often supports associated costs and other research. Environment Bay of Plenty already funds a Chair of Lakes Management and Restoration at Waikato University, which is held by Professor David Hamilton.  This new Chair will focus on coastal marine and estuarine research particularly within the Bay of Plenty region.

Chairman Cronin says the regional council is keen to continue its close relationship with the university. “Because of the university’s internationally recognised expertise and leadership in the processes and management around coastal marine issues, Environment Bay of Plenty is very pleased to provide a Chair in Coastal Sciences which will ultimately benefit our region.”

Chairman Cronin says the Chair, to be based in Tauranga, will bring a multi-disciplinary approach to research into coastal marine issues and the ecological management of that environment. “This knowledge will help Environment Bay of Plenty to better manage the region’s resources, particularly Tauranga Harbour where the science demands are increasing,” he says.

University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Doug Sutton, who helped drive the project,  says the university welcomes the even stronger relationship with Environment Bay of Plenty. He says the university’s teaching and research in the Bay of Plenty will contribute to the health and economy of the wider region and help address issues such as the pressure on Tauranga Harbour as more people live in and do business in the area.

“The University of Waikato is committed to the Bay of Plenty region. We’re an increasing presence here as we strive to make a difference in the fast-growing area.”

He says the university has had a long involvement with the region, and has researched the Bay of Plenty coast and its estuaries since the 1970s. “This important funding of a Chair of Coastal Science will continue to deliver results for the harbour and region and ensure a continuing and active partnership between the university, the regional council and local bodies, iwi and groups.”

Prof Sutton says the new Chair, which will be advertised soon, will be an integral part of the INTERCOAST programme. INTERCOAST, established by Waikato University and Bremen University in Germany, will be a major centre of marine research excellence, featuring international PhD students. It kicked off the same week when nearly 40 students and postdoctoral fellows were welcomed to the Bay of Plenty and began working on a variety of coastal research projects.