Freshwater management to benefit from new institute

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Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has announced the creation of a new freshwater institute between NIWA and the University of Waikato.

Te Waiora, Joint Institute for Freshwater Management (NIWA and the University of Waikato) will be on the university’s Hamilton campus and involve iwi, national and international partners.

“This is a significant step forward in freshwater management in New Zealand, and will enhance our research capabilities and facilities to address future management of our freshwater resources and environments,” Mr Joyce says.

A world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching

“The Joint Institute will be a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching. It will build capability and capacity across the sciences, engineering, management, law, economics policy, mātauranga Māori and education, with the aim of delivering greater economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits from and for freshwater.

“This is the first time such an interdisciplinary approach has been taken, and it represents a significant change in how New Zealand’s freshwaters are studied and managed.”

The University of Waikato is New Zealand’s major provider of freshwater research in the tertiary sector and NIWA is New Zealand’s leading environmental science provider and home to The National Centre for Freshwater and Estuaries.

“NIWA and the University of Waikato’s capabilities and facilities are complementary. Combining their resources will enable a substantial lift in the quality of freshwater decision making and outcomes for New Zealand,” says Mr Joyce.

Research programmes will span river environments, lakes and wetlands and urban environments and the interactions between science, human behaviour, economics and policy. The Institute will work on assessing the values of ecosystem services provided by freshwater, plus the impacts of moving to higher quality standards for different water bodies.

“All projects will contribute to helping inform and shape strategies aimed at solving complex challenges in managing freshwater.”

Strong iwi focus

Te Waiora will also identify new insights into Māori traditional rights and responsibilities in relation to water, and enhance public awareness and engagement in freshwater issues. The Institute will have a strong iwi focus, with one of the partners being Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development.

Waikato Regional Council will fund a Rivers Chair for the Institute and also sit on the advisory board along with other key national and international partners.

The University and NIWA will provide funding over three years as an initial investment and Te Waiora will be housed in a new building within the NIWA complex on the university campus.

Release from Minister's Office 10 October, 2016