Funding success for four new GNS Science research projects - 13/06/2017

Researchers at GNS Science have been awarded funding of $480,000 for four new projects in the 2017 round of Te Pūnaha Hihiko - Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund, announced this week by Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell.

This year $3.9 million was awarded for 32 projects from the Fund, which aims to strengthen relationships between Māori and scientists.

The projects run for two years and are aligned with four themes – indigenous innovation, environmental sustainability, health and social wellbeing, and exploring indigenous knowledge.

The successful GNS Science projects are:

  • Working with Ngāti Hauā Iwi Trust to develop an interactive user portal (website) that collates and presents freshwater scientific, Mātauranga and policy knowledge of the Piako River catchment. The information portal will enable Ngāti Hauā to more readily make informed decisions about freshwater resource management in the Piako Catchment for both the health of the environment and the iwi. As part of the project there will be hands-on marae-based workshops to share scientific knowledge and to facilitate learning through experience. The project has been awarded $100,000 and will be led by scientists Abigail Lovett and Zara Rawlinson and Māori relationships advisor Diane Bradshaw, in collaboration with Weka Pene and Lisa Gardiner of Ngāti Hauā Iwi Trust.
  • Working with Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust in Rotorua to better understand the health effects of hydrogen sulphide. The gas, famously
    Whakarewarewa Village
    responsible for Rotorua’s distinctive odour, is one of the two main gases found in the village. The project will use information from a database resulting from three years of course air particulate sampling at Whakarewarewa Village. Hydrogen sulphide is 1.2 times denser than air and can be fatal at high concentrations. Longterm exposure due to emittance from the ground is likely to cause chronic health problems such as asthma. As well as improving Māori understanding of the science of the gas, the project will also help to improve the health of the workforce at the Village. The project has been awarded $100,000 and will be led by ion beam scientist Andreas Markwitz and geochemist Agnes Mazot, in association with Ringahora Huata and James Warbick of the Village Trust.
  • Working with Hauraki iwi Ngāti Hako to integrate scientific information and mātauranga (traditional knowledge) to better understand and realise the mineral resources in the iwi’s rohe (tribal region).The project will develop a pathway to unlock the region’s mineral potential as well as economic opportunities. Findings will be shared through a series of hui. One of the outputs will be a database of the region’s mineral resources identifying their attributes and economic significance. The project has been awarded $100,000 and is led by Mark Simpson, Anthony Christie, Robert Reeves, and Diane Bradshaw together with Pauline Clarkin of Ngāti Hako.
  • Working with Rotorua iwi Ngāti Rangiwewehi to identify ‘kaitiaki’ flow regimes for Awahou Stream near Rotorua. This is a new water management concept for spring-fed catchments that will bring together science and mātauranga (traditional knowledge). One of the outputs will be a water resources capability plan, which will be promulgated to other iwi and water suppliers and is expected to help other iwi with their water resources capability development. This project has been awarded $180,000 and is led by groundwater scientists Paul White, Abi Lovett, Conny Tschritter, and Magali Moreau in association with Gina Mohi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi.

Unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people will have significant economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand.

Minister Paul Goldsmith


GNS Science is also participating in two other iwi-led projects that have won funding totalling $143,000. Both projects involve geologist Simon Cox.

One will see Dr Cox will work with the Ngāti Koata Trust in Nelson to build improved knowledge of the geology, resources and environment of the Maitai River, and the Hira and Waimea forests in the Nelson region.  

In the other he will work West Coast entity Kati Waewae, one of the 18 constituent hapu of Ngāi Tahu, using occurrence and resource assessment of pounamu to help lift their earth science knowledge and encourage young people to take an interest in science and mātauranga.

In announcing the funding Minister Goldsmith said that the Government recognised that Māori success is New Zealand’s success.

“Unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people will have significant economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand.”

Minister Flavell said that iwi played an increasingly active role in New Zealand’s economy and in the management of natural resources.

“The programmes funded in the 2017 round will grow Māori research skills and further develop important links between Māori and research organisations.”