Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia | Strategic Science Investment Fund


The research projects within this programme investigate and explore the Earth system structure, evolution, past climate and processes of Earth's 8th continent.

As a whole, this research programme underpins and feeds into other GNS Science strategic themes and programmes.

Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia
is Earth’s 8th continent

Te Riu-a-Māui provides a fresh perspective on New Zealand’s place in the South West Pacific. As an island nation with one of the largest marine jurisdictions in the world (c. 6 million sq. km), New Zealand has continental-scale challenges, opportunities and stewardship responsibilities.

In line with government priorities and growing expectations from communities and iwi, GNS Science has a critical role to play in ensuring New Zealand is safer, cleaner and more prosperous into the future. Key to achieving all these outcomes is improved knowledge of Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia’s geological heritage, hazards and resources.

Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia programme underpins science that

  • Provides fundamental knowledge on the geological history, tectonic process and geological changes experience by Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia to provide context and depth for research in hazards, environment and energy futures.
  • Increases NZ's resilience to natural hazards by making interpretations of plate boundary processes and resolving physical controls on the generation of earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions.
  • Enhances understanding of geological and Earth-system processes by understanding the consequences of past ocean and climate change on Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia through acquiring baseline paleo-environmental data to inform forecasts of future change and the development of effective adaptation strategies.
  • Drives innovation and sustainable growth in NZ's geologically based minerals industries by more accurately characterising the composition and structure of Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia spatially and over time.
  • Develops wider usage of collections and databases to deliver new insights and perspective for applied geoscience, education, policy setting, community engagement and industry benefit in New Zealand.

Key projects

The Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia programme comprises of five research projects.

1. Thermal processes

This project on geothermal and hazards research is led by Ted Bertrand and informs knowledge on:

2. Plate boundary tectonic processes

This project covers research on our plate boundary. Currently, we focus on the Hikurangi Subduction Margin Zone for it’s high-risk of generating earthquake and tsunami. This research is led by Laura Wallace.
Find out more about how this research builds our understanding of:

3. Continental tectonic processes

This research underpins our other Zealandia projects as well as our hazards and geothermal research. This project is led by Dominic Strogen. Learn more about our research on:

Bathymetric Map of Te Riu-a-Māui Zealandia

4. Surface geological processes

This research includes understanding Aoteroa's paleoclimate record and ever-changing surface. This project is led by Richard Kellett and underpins other Zealandia projects, plus our environment and climate and hazards research. This research builds our current understanding of:

5. Operations and data

This area of research includes E Tūhura, our portal for information on Zealandia. We also fulfil a secretariat role with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and the Intercontinental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). This research is led by Jenny Black. Find out more about our work in:

Cortese Giuseppe 2290

Giuseppe Cortese Interim Environment and Climate Theme Leader

I was born in Reggio Calabria, a Greek colony founded in 740 BC at the very tip of Italy’s boot, just opposite Sicily: only 3 km away, quite practical if you can walk on water. After a lot of close brushes with Mesozoic rocks during my University years, I specialized in modern radiolarians, the plankton group that controlled the silica cycle in the ocean for a long time, until diatoms stole their show… I’ve worked on fjords, the Nordic Seas and their oceanography, morphometry of microfossils, temperature and sea ice reconstructions, silica cycle, polar paleoclimate, iron fertilization and all things Southern Ocean. I moved to New Zealand in January 2008, where I keep on studying the Southern Ocean, the SW Pacific and the Tasman Sea, particularly their recent past climate history. As fitting for my Greek heritage and geological background, I married my own rock (Meera) on a caldera rim, in Santorini. I have way too many hobbies to cleanse my brain, including playing tenor saxophone and keyboards, riding motorbikes, cooking, fishing/boating, travelling and experiencing the world, learning languages, and gaming.

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