Applying for vessel time

Find out how you can have access to NIWA's research vessels to carry out marine research voyages.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), through the Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF), has contracted NIWA to provide access by New Zealand based research organisations to RV Tangaroa as a national facility to undertake marine research.

Approximately 135 days of voyage time will be provided per year. Additional funding will also be provided every second year by MBIE through this contract to support vessel operating costs for dedicated Antarctic/Southern Ocean voyages. Parties accessing the vessel time are required to separately fund the research costs of projects (e.g. science personnel and equipment) and activities undertaken on board RV Tangaroa. It is expected that voyages will be aligned with New Zealand’s marine research strategies and priorities.

Who can apply?

Only New Zealand-based research organisations can access this vessel time. Applicants must prove the national scientific value of the voyage, that they have the expertise and track record of managing deep sea marine research projects, and can demonstrate how this will be of use and made accessible to New Zealand (see eligibility criteria in Expression of Interest form). It is expected that voyages will be aligned to New Zealand’s marine strategy i.e. research needs, the Sustainable Seas and Deep South challenges, the Kermadec Rangitahua Sanctuary and increasing focus on Antarctic Southern Ocean have been identified as priority areas.

Support will be given to Crown agencies and research programmes funded by Crown funds, including the Performance Based Research Fund, Marsden Fund, SSIF and Endeavour Fund. Applicants to these funds requiring access to Tangaroa vessel time should contact NIWA to ensure vessel time is available and that the vessel can deliver the services required.

How do I apply?

In the first instance it is recommended that you contact and/or meet with NIWA to discuss your proposal.

NIWA will require preliminary information such as the proposed voyage leader, how long and when you expect to mobilise and demobilise your voyage, the approximate voyage length, a tentative voyage plan, equipment likely to be used and the number of scientists expected. This is to ensure your proposed research is aligned with the ship’s schedule, capability and operating procedures.

Conditions of application?

Successful applicants will be required to comply with the following conditions:

  • You will be required to provide an experienced voyage leader. Their experience should be outlined in the Expression of Interest application form.
  • Applicants will be required to sign NIWA’s standard contract outlining the terms and conditions for access to Tangaroa. This includes a requirement for applicant(s) to cover the liabilities and insurance for all their equipment and personnel on the vessel. Assessment of your application will proceed on the understanding that you have accepted all terms and conditions of this contract. A copy of this contract is available on request.
  • All participants on a voyage will be expected to have a current medical, First Aid and Sea Survival Certification. Please contact us for further details.
  • You will be expected to comply with all the terms and conditions contained within the Expression of Interest.

What is included in funded vessel days?

The vessel, crew of 15, fuel and victualling for all on board for the allocated voyage duration will be provided by NIWA, including all standard operational and Health Safety and Environment (HSE) procedures to allow the voyage to progress efficiently and safely.

What is not funded?

All science equipment attached to RV Tangaroa, or scientific equipment that may be required by the applicant that NIWA owns, is not funded by MBIE. NIWA can provide a quote for use of additional equipment and science services if requested. NIWA is under no obligation to provide any equipment or supporting science services.

The costs of retro fitting any equipment is not funded.

Note that if the applicant research requires significant use of the vessel’s dynamic positioning system (DP), the extra fuel used will be charged at cost, including the cost of a certified DP operator if required. The use of DP should be discussed at the preliminary meeting prior to your Expression of Interest application.

Any out-of-the-ordinary voyage procedures that may require the development, by NIWA, of standard operating procedures (SOP’s), JSEA’s and detailed risk project specific assessments will be charged at cost.

Further detail of what is and is not funded can be found in the Expression of Interest form. 

When do I apply?

Applications can be submitted at any time.

Who assesses them?

The Tangaroa Reference Group (TRG) has been formed by MBIE to help determine and prioritise applications. The group will comprise at least nine stakeholders, including a NIWA Chair, and members from DOC, NZP&M, MBIE, GNS, MFE, MFAT, NIWA and MPI.

The group is an advisory committee tasked with assessing and prioritising exploration and research proposals that require the government-funded use of Tangaroa whilst enabling NIWA to ensure the maximum utilisation of the vessel in any financial year.

When are applications assessed?

The group will meet to assess the applications as and when required. The expectation is that the group will convene to assess two to three Expression of Interest (EOI) application rounds and at least one extraordinary meeting per year. The group will decide on and notify successful applicants accordingly. The group may request further information or seek external expertise as and when required.

Successful applicants

The successful applicant will be required to meet with NIWA to allow voyage planning to progress. A list of successful applicants and voyages can be found here: (list coming soon)

Voyage reports and data

After the voyage, voyage data and a detailed voyage reports are required to be forwarded to NIWA. See a list of the latest voyages. 

Expression of Interest application forms

An Expression of Interest application form can be downloaded from the link below. NIWA can help you understand the requirements for leading research projects from Tangaroa and offer some guidance on how the Expression of Interest form should be completed.

RV Tangaroa off Raoul Island. From Day 6 and 7 of Kermadecs Voyage 2016. [Photo NIWA]
Andrew Stewart, Te Papa and Tom Trnski, Auckland Museum consult records while sorting the contents of an early morning trawl. From Day 5 of Kermadecs Voyage 2016. [Photo NIWA]
Deckhand Sam Harrison working on the trawl deck. Photograph by Dave Allen on 20 February 2015.
RV Tangaroa leaves Auckland. From Day 1 of Kermadecs Voyage 2016. [Photo NIWA]