University of Waikato opens coastal research field station

Press Release – Waikato University

An afternoon launch marked the official opening of the University of Waikato’s new coastal research field station at Sulphur Point yesterday. The new facility is a first for the University, and a significant milestone for its Coastal Marine Group, …8 December, 2011

University of Waikato opens new coastal research field station

An afternoon launch marked the official opening of the University of Waikato’s new coastal research field station at Sulphur Point yesterday.

The new facility is a first for the University, and a significant milestone for its Coastal Marine Group, Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said.

“This is an historic occasion of the University. We have been conducting research in the Bay of Plenty for many years under the guidance of the late Professor Terry Healy and a field station is something we have been wanting for some time.

“We have created a beginning that will be the start of something very important. Research will start here but will then be disseminated around the world.”

The field station on Cross Road is part of the University’s recently launched Environmental Research Institute. Professor Crawford thanked the University’s partners, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Port of Tauranga, Priority One, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, and Smartgrowth for their support in establishing the facility.

Chair in Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill will be based at the field station which will also be used by the many PhD and Masters students who are conducting research in and around Tauranga Harbour and around the Bay of Plenty region.

“Having a dedicated lab to process field work will be great for the students,” he said. “Up until now, a lot of the field work we’ve done has had to be taken to Hamilton to be processed.”

Head of the Marine Ecology Research Group at Canterbury University Professor David Schiel said the new facility was a significant step forward for the community.

“As we see more pressures on our coastline, it is important to have effective management based on sound research. This is a really significant centre of marine science for this area,” he said.

Professor Schiel is the only other chair of marine science in New Zealand and he is working with the University of Waikato on the environmental response to the Rena grounding. He applauded the partnership involved in establishing the facility.

“Partnerships can bring significant value and understanding and lead to better stewardship of our marine resources for future generations,” said Professor Schiel.

Three iwi representatives spoke in support of the three iwi of Tauranga Moana – Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga. Carlton Bidois of Ngati Ranginui said the research facility was needed in Tauranga Moana.

“The impact of Rena has devastated Tauranga Moana and it is collaborations like this that will aid in its recovery. We applaud these collaborations,” he said.

Also speaking at the opening, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman John Cronin said having Professor Battershill and the students based here will be a huge benefit.

“The academic knowledge of the university joining with the economic knowledge of the community will feed into development.” It will make an extremely strong force all based in Tauranga for the benefit of the whole Bay of Plenty, he said.

While only just officially launched, the field station has already become a critical base for a major research project currently underway. The university is collaborating with Bay of Plenty Regional Council, iwi, Massey University and the Cawthron Institute on an intensive ‘Whole of Harbour’ marine health survey between Bowentown and Te Maunga and the 30-strong team of staff, iwi, students and volunteers are using the facility as a base to meet and process marine samples.

ENDS

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