Studying the relationship between community and environment

27 August 2019

A new Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and University of Waikato role will study the relationship between our communities and our environment, and how best to care for both.

“This position is a first for a regional council in New Zealand," says Iain Maxwell, the Regional Council’s Group Manager for Integrated Catchment Management. "We are excited about partnering with the University of Waikato to create a step-change in how we work in this area,”

Dr Edgar Burns has been appointed by the University of Waikato to the new role of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair in Integrated Catchments.

Mr Maxwell says the Council is facing some significant challenges to meet expectations for the environment. "So Dr Burns’ expertise will help to improve how we work with our communities. This work leads to changes that improve outcomes on our land, in our water and in the ocean, while keeping strong, vibrant communities. We’re delighted to welcome Dr Burns back to the Bay," he says.

This appointment follows the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and University of Waikato’s announcement in 2018 establishing a partnership to foster new research on how best to support the sustainable use and protection of natural resources.

University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Bruce Clarkson says this is a great next step in the agreement with the Council.

“This role means we can further build our research strengths in catchment management and regional scale restoration. Dr Burns’ appointment complements the biophysical science research and teaching activities we have planned for Hawke's Bay and will enable some exciting cross-disciplinary work in the region.”

Dr Burns says his new job provides a terrific opportunity to take New Zealand’s forward thinking even further. "Lessons I’ve learned in Bendigo in dry Australia have interesting applications for New Zealand, where water quality for farms, cities and leisure is central to continued community wellbeing.”

Dr Burns commences his role in late October.

About Edgar Burns

Taking up this role is coming full circle for Burns, who grew up in Hawke’s Bay. He returned, after gaining his MA in Sociology at Massey University, to establish an open ground plant nursery with his wife and young family.

He commenced academic teaching work at Eastern Institute of Technology, before heading to La Trobe University in Melbourne to complete a PhD in Sociology about career transitions, being offered a full-time position as teacher and researcher. Most recently he has been based in Bendigo in regional Victoria, Australia.

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