Capital forum gets ideas flowing

7 March 2014

Fresh Water Forum

Fresh Water Fresh Thinking: Senior law lecturer Linda Te Aho, left, former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer and RESPONSE director Betsan Martin at the Fresh Water Fresh Thinking Forum in Wellington.

A unique initiative to take a range of leading researchers to Wellington to discuss new ideas around fresh water proved a popular move with stakeholders and policymakers.

The University of Waikato’s Fresh Water – Fresh Thinking Forum, held on 6 March, was led by Professor Jacqueline Rowarth and featured presentations from senior law lecturer Linda Te Aho and professors Iain White (environmental planning), David Hamilton (Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration), Les Oxley (economics) and Al Gillespie (law).

Well attended

The forum was also attended by Chancellor Jim Bolger, Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones.

Among the organisations present were Fish and Game New Zealand, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Ecologic Foundation, GrowRotorua, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development, Victoria University of Wellington, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and a number of government departments.

Former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Law Commission President Hon Sir Grant Hammond and Hamilton East MP David Bennett also attended.

Each researcher gave a 15 minute presentation before a lively open discussion.

The University takes initiative

Bryce Johnson, the Wellington-based chief executive of Fish & Game NZ, congratulated the University for its initiative and hoped similar events could become a regular occurrence.

“It‘s great to see a university actually come to Wellington with fresh ideas about an issue critical to New Zealand. More power to them, there should be more of it,” he says.

Unique expertise and knowledge

Professor Jones says the forum was successful in highlighting the University of Waikato’s unique fresh water expertise and knowledge.

“This was an opportunity to showcase the interdisciplinary approach the University of Waikato takes to regional, national and global issues and we made a number of new connections with people and organisations who weren’t previously aware of our strengths in this area,” he says.

It is likely more forums will be held in the future, both in Wellington and at other locations.

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