Editorial

Big numbers, big questions – NIWA’s Chief Executive John Morgan sets the scene.

Science produces phenomenal numbers:

  • Last year NIWA incubated 17.1 million hapuku eggs.
  • A great white shark tagged by NIWA at the Chatham Islands, and found off Tonga, had travelled 2615 kilometres.
  • New Zealand’s total annual rainfall and snowfall ranges between 300 000 million and 600 000 million cubic metres.

Behind each of these numbers, there’s a story. In this magazine you can read how science is driving the development of a completely new, high-value aquaculture product – farmed hapuku. And you can see how scientists are using satellite tagging technology to uncover the movements of those fearsome yet charismatic predators, great white sharks.

For our cover story on the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater, Water & Atmosphere’s editorial team specially commissioned NIWA scientists to assess the ’swimmability’ of all 77 river reaches in New Zealand’s only National Water Quality Monitoring Network. NIWA has operated the network for over 20 years. In that time, many communities and industries have stopped pumping untreated waste into waterways, but more effluent is washing into them from lowland pasture.

Water quality presents a huge challenge – how can we achieve strong growth in the pastoral sector, while cleaning up our rivers and lakes at the same time?

Science is an important part of the solution. Science tells us what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what our options are. Almost always there are trade-offs to be made. That’s where the Government’s Land and Water Forum comes into its own – bringing together all stakeholders for frank, well-informed discussions.

Here at NIWA, we’d like to see all parties working together to develop and embrace a National Freshwater Strategy. As a nation, New Zealand needs to use water wisely and distribute it well. Water is the ultimate in recyclable resources, provided the quality is maintained, and that requires a framework for balancing the many competing interests. We also need a long-term strategic view to address the big water infrastructure issues which will confront us in decades to come, as the source of water – the climate – continues to change.

NIWA has a responsibility as a Crown Research Institute to share the results of publicly funded science. There are many different ways we carry out such knowledge transfer, and the new Water & Atmosphere will be a small, but significant, part of this effort. In this magazine you will find articles of real depth and authority, bringing a unique science-based perspective to current issues in policy and business. We will tell you what the science shows us, and we will do this with articles that are both accessible and relevant. We are also keen to hear what you think – email the team at wa-editor@niwa.co.nz. And look out for the next issue later this year.

John Morgan

Chief Executive

John Morgan, NIWA CEO. [NIWA]