Our workshops

A key part of the Marine Futures research is to run a series of workshops with people involved in decision making to develop collective understandings and consider New Zealand’s marine futures.

2013 Workshop: What is Sustainability?

The 2013 workshop was focused on developing collective understandings of what sustainability means in the marine environment. Discussions focused on sustainability in a changing world, what sustainability means from different perspectives and the critical elements within the social, economic, environmental dimensions. The diverse group questioned but ultimately endorsed sustainability as a principle and socio-ecological knowledge as a key to creating different futures. The workshop enabled understandings of sustainability to be brought together based on grounded socio-ecological settings, and drew attention to multiple possibilities that can be created. There was extraordinary support for documentation of exemplar marine environments. Exemplars were not seen as either green washing or moralistic posturing but as illuminating science stories that could mobilise interest and action. Integral to the development of exemplars is determining appropriate baselines that are relevant from context to context. This key challenge has consequently been considered by the researchers.

The workshop also focused on mandating the use of science. In particular, the workshop explored and identified how science could be used to support values expressed by participants and what science was needed.

2014 Case Study Workshops: Chatham Rise and Hauraki Gulf Environmental Futures

These 2014 workshops focused on our case study locations, the Hauraki Gulf and the Chatham Rise. The multi-stakeholder workshops included participants who reflected a range of perspectives and experience and discussed and defined limits to resource use through trade-offs associated with “futures” and “sustainability.


A key feature of the 2014 workshops was the use of scenarios. Directed from the outcomes of the first workshop and using available knowledge, data and models, the Marine Futures researchers defined different environmental scenarios. Each scenario, set in 2050, allowed the imagination of different futures depending on the uses of different policies and management strategies or the relative importance of regional and global factors.  Four different stories with different economic futures were considered to facilitate discussion and develop collective understandings about trade-offs, bottom lines and marine sustainability.

Workshop scenarios

The two case studies have been chosen as they highlight different processes and interrelationships. In the case of the Chatham Rise, the social is firmly place inside ecological processes where social actors impact upon ecological processes. In contrast, the Hauraki Gulf can be seen as ecological processes inside social processes, which will drive what happens.

The Hauraki Gulf

The island-studded Hauraki Gulf is a backdrop to the work and play of Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. This shallow, sheltered sea has been many years in the making and is a transport hub, commercial port, communications route, tourism venue, sailing paradise, marine park and recreational, customary and commercial fishing ground, The embayed coastline, estuaries and islands were shaped by volcanism, tectonic upheaval and changing sea levels. The seafloor of this shallow, semi-enclosed sea has a sweeping signature of sediment, erosion, transport and deposition.

Hauraki Gulf

The Chatham Rise

The Chatham Rise is an area of ocean floor to the east of New Zealand. It is a large plateau that stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres between the South Island and the Chatham Islands. The current known as the subtropical convergence occurs over the Chatham Rise, creating a very productive fishing ground supporting many species including hoki, hake, ling, orange roughy and oreo. As New Zealand’s most productive fishing ground, the Chatham Rise fisheries are of huge economic significance to New Zealand. Areas of the Chatham Rise are protected but some may be licensed for mineral exploration or extraction.

Chatham Rise



Summary: Case study workshops

The case study workshops involved national and regional agencies and stakeholders involved in managing marine resources. The inclusion of varied viewpoints of resource users, managers and scientists at workshops facilitated discussions of ecosystem-based management, and how our current sectorial governance of the marine estate makes management of cumulative impacts challenging. Agencies and stakeholders that did not regularly communicate were able to learn each other’s objectives, and how other groups were contributing to managing and monitoring the marine estate. All participants across all sectors agreed that the current governance system was leading to a non-optimal future, and discussed how New Zealand’s marine estate was likely to respond to ‘surprises’, whether mediated by environmental or economic changes.

2014 Future of Marine Science Workshop

A survey was compiled, using methods similar to the Horizons scanning methodology, to help define our agenda and discussions at the workshop. The survey took approximately 20 minutes and required work shop invitees to assess and rank a set of statements about research priorities in marine science. The statements were derived from international scientific literature, designed to prioritise marine science and conservation. The rankings were used to identify major themes which formed the basis of the workshop discussions.

In the workshop these themes were further developed, with the goal to enhance scientific understanding and uptake of knowledge into decision making in the marine sector. Participants were also asked to keep in mind that while we want world class research to be conducted, we must understand the value of this new knowledge, and use it to empower more integrated management of marine ecosystems. Hence these themes needed to be integrative, collaborative, trans-disciplinary and transformative.

Identifying the major contributions for New Zealand marine science was done against the backdrop of the National Science Challenges (specifically, the Sustainable Seas, Deep South and Our Land and Water Challenges).

  • Theme 1: Enhancing knowledge about the conditions under which sudden, disruptive and substantive undesirable changes are likely to occur and the potential implications of such changes for New Zealand communities and marine environments, i.e. socio-ecological knowledge of tipping points and the development of our preparedness capability.
  • Theme 2: Developing methodologies to reveal the complex and cumulative effects of change in marine systems, defining how and why these trajectories vary and their implications for resource use, stewardship and restoration in systems of different ecological health.
  • Theme 3: Assessing potential solutions to management issues that balance long-term and short-term benefits and encompass sophisticated understandings of social and environmental change to define future trajectories based on societal engagement in decision-making.
  • Theme 4: Establishing effective and appropriately resourced institutional networks for monitoring marine environments and foster solution-focused marine science encompassing local, regional, national and international scales.
  • Theme 5: Establishing effective solutions-focused institutions for translating diverse scientific and social-scientific knowledge into innovative regulatory and social and economic practice that enhances the value society places on the marine environment in resource use and conservation.

Themes document [doc]
Survey summary diagnostics [doc]



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Archived on 5 April 2019