Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the University of Waikato have appointed Dr Deniz Özkundakci to the position of Toihuarewa – Waimāori Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lake and Fresh Water Science.
The Lake and Fresh Water Science programme leads research and innovation and provides advice to Toi Moana across the Bay of Plenty region’s freshwater and lake environments.
Toi Moana Chief Executive Fiona McTavish said Dr Özkundakci will provide leadership for freshwater science, research and policy in his new role as Toihuarewa – Waimāori.
“A core role of the chair is to oversee the programme of research which will enable council to foresee and adapt to challenges and opportunities in the management of the region’s lake and freshwater resources,” Ms McTavish said.
“Dr Özkundakci brings an incredible amount of experience and expertise to the position and we are so pleased to have him on board.”
Dr Özkundakci brings considerable research expertise in lakes and freshwater systems (including a recently-awarded MBIE Smart Ideas project), has studied the impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems and has a wealth of experience in community engagement through his work as a freshwater scientist for the Waikato Regional Council.
Originally from Germany, Dr Özkundakci has lived in New Zealand since 2005 and is looking forward to working in the Bay of Plenty alongside Regional Council.
As well as providing leadership, Dr Özkundakci will foster strong relationships with iwi and the community in relation to freshwater.
Mātauranga Māori is integral to the research programme and it provides opportunities for students who whakapapa to the Toi Moana rohe to undertake post-graduate research in the area and for Treaty Partners like the Te Arawa Lakes Trust to engage with university work.
University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Bryony James, says the University is proud to be continuing its longstanding relationship with Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council through this appointment.
"Freshwater management is a vital issue for the Bay of Plenty region and this unique role involves having both the technical experience in freshwater, but also community engagement. Dr Özkundakci brings a wealth of experience in both areas and we look forward to following his work with Toi Moana."
Toihuarewa – Waimāori is a joint collaboration between Toi Moana and the University of Waikato. The two have had an ongoing relationship since the early 2000s and together have made achievements in the freshwater research space.
Dr Özkundakci is due to start in early January 2022 and will be based at the University of Waikato.