The University of Waikato’s Coastal Marine Field Station was on show when Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Education Minister Jan Tinetti visited last week.
Since being established in 2011, the Coastal Marine Field Station in Tauranga has become a major multidisciplinary research and education centre, involved in a range of exciting initiatives. These include working in collaboration with Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and government agencies to monitor human impacts on harbours, coast, and offshore islands, and to identify mitigating solutions that will be robust even as our climate becomes more volatile.
The research also investigates disturbances such as fishing, sedimentation, coastal development, climate change, and pollution. As part of the University’s Environmental Research Institute, the Marine Station conducts environmental research from the Antarctic to the tropics, focussing on Aotearoa’s connected coastal, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems.
During the visit, Professor Chris Battershill shared with the Ministers some examples of the centre’s work in training experts in environmental marine science and aquaculture. This work is intended to help meet the demands of a growing and sustainable blue economy in the region.
“The list of important research projects that we are involved in is huge, uniquely combining environmental research with our need to create wealth from the sea. Everything from continuing the monitoring of reef recovery from the MV Rena and Cyclone Gabrielle disasters to identifying how we can assess the health of coastal systems by listening to them invoking acoustics and eDNA technologies,” Professor Battershill says. “For example, the team played a significant role in understanding the impacts of the grounding of the CV Rena on Astrolabe Reef in October 2011, providing day-by-day assessments to iwi and the wider community.”
The University of Waikato is recognised as one of the premier universities in New Zealand for multidisciplinary aquatic science, and has attracted some of the world’s experts in a wide range of marine and marine related fields. International partnerships with Germany, the USA, and Australia are growing. It is also the only university in the southern hemisphere to have a working tertiary partnership with Wānanga and the Technical Institutes that is dedicated to enhancing tertiary education offerings in the Bay of Plenty, and offering stepping stones into education for regional communities.