Statement of Core Purpose

The Statement of Core Purpose spells out why the Government owns Crown Research Institutes and what it expects from them.

In particular, the Statement of Core Purpose defines the areas of operation in which each CRI is the lead agency, and those in which it will collaborate with others to achieve the required outcomes.

NIWA’s purpose is to enhance the economic value and sustainable management of New Zealand’s aquatic resources and environments, to provide understanding of climate and the atmosphere and increase resilience to weather and climate hazards to improve safety and wellbeing of New Zealanders.


NIWA will fulfil its purpose through the provision of research and transfer of technology and knowledge in partnership with key stakeholders including industry, government and Māori to:

  • increase economic growth through the sustainable management and use of aquatic resources
  • grow renewable energy production through developing a greater understanding of renewable aquatic and atmospheric energy resources
  • increase the resilience of New Zealand and South-West Pacific islands to tsunami and weather and climate hazards, including drought, floods and sea level change
  • enable New Zealand to adapt to the impacts and exploit the opportunities of climate variability and change and mitigate changes in atmospheric composition from greenhouse gases and air pollutants
  • enhance the stewardship of New Zealand’s freshwater and marine ecosystems and biodiversity
  • increase understanding of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate, cryosphere, oceans and ecosystems and their longer-term impact on New Zealand.

Scope of operation

To achieve these outcomes, NIWA is the lead CRI in the following areas:

  • aquatic resources and environments (with a focus on surface freshwaters and coastal environments)
  • oceans
  • freshwater and marine fisheries
  • aquaculture
  • climate and atmosphere
  • climate and weather hazards
  • aquatic and atmospheric-based energy resources
  • aquatic biodiversity (including biosystematics) and biosecurity.

NIWA will work with other research providers and end users to contribute to the development of the following areas:

  • biosecurity, freshwater and hazards management
  • climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • ocean floor exploration
  • seafood sector
  • urban environments
  • Antarctica.

Operating Principles

NIWA will:

  • operate in accordance with a Statement of Corporate Intent and business plan that describes how NIWA will deliver against this Statement of Core Purpose, and describes what the shareholders will receive for their investment
  • meet its obligations as a Crown Company and remain financially viable, delivering an appropriate rate of return on equity
  • develop strong, long-term partnerships with key stakeholders, including industry, government and Māori and work with them to set research priorities that are well linked to the needs and potential of its end users
  • maintain a balance of research that provides for both the near-term requirements of its sectors and demonstrates vision for their longer-term benefit
  • transfer technology and knowledge from domestic and international sources to key New Zealand stakeholders, including industry, government and Māori
  • develop collaborative relationships with other CRIs, universities and other research institutions (within New Zealand and internationally) to form the best teams to deliver its core purpose
  • provide advice on matters of its expertise to the Crown
  • represent New Zealand’s interests on behalf of the Crown through contribution to science diplomacy and international scientific issues and/or bodies as required
  • seek advice from scientific and user advisory panels to help ensure the quality and relevance of its research
  • establish policies, practices and culture that optimise talent recruitment and retention
  • enable the innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people
  • maintain its databases, collections and infrastructure and manage the scientific and research data it generates in a sustainable manner, providing appropriate access and maximising the reusability of data sets
  • seek shareholder consent for significant activity beyond its scope of operation.

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