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Joint study into Tūtaepatu lagoon water quality research

Joint study into Tūtaepatu lagoon water quality research

University of Canterbury (UC) researchers are launching a joint study into the water quality and its effects on freshwater fish fauna, mahinga kai and wider ecosystems in Tūtaepatu Lagoon, in North Canterbury.

The research collaboration involves UC, Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Runanga, Mahaanui Kurataiao Limited, Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust, and the University of Hawaii Mānoa

The application to the 2017 Te Pūnaha Hihiko – Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund was accepted for a proposal to develop a freshwater quality monitoring programme at Tūtaepatu Lagoon within the Tūhaitara Coastal Park, near Woodend in North Canterbury.

“The research will be an exploration of evidence-based ‘Western science’ and Mātauranga Māori as a means to provide catalysts for research organisations and hapū-based practitioners to establish new connections and develop mahinga kai relationship across the Pacific,” says Nigel Harris, Kaiārahi Māori Research within UC Research & Innovation.

The aims are to investigate:

• how the water quality of the lagoon changes over time and space

• how water quality may impact taonga species of importance to local hapū such as tuna/longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) and shortfin eel (Anguilla australis), which includes tuna/freshwater eel recruitment and health

• how tuna stock density affects water quality and other taonga species and how this may impact other taonga species establishment

• how restoration (i.e. invasive exotic flora removal) of lagoon water quality may have a positive or negative impact on other restoration initiatives such as kōaro/Canterbury mudfish (Neochanna burrowsius), kākahi/freshwater mussel (Echyridella menziesii), kēwai/freshwater crayfish (Paranephrops zealandicus), and īnanga/whitebait (common galaxius)

• how water quality differs between perceived degraded and “healthy” ecosystems within this localised area.

“We also intend to analyse data in the context of traditional practices, traditional stories, generate new stories and management concepts from the data we will gather and compare with available data trends of Hawaii Loko i'a,” Mr Harris says.

MBIE described the research project as a: “robust proposal including useful international connections. Strong in approach to development of people, relationships and skills, including intergenerational aspects. Clear Vision Mātauranga outcomes and benefits to RS&T [Research, Science and Technology]. Sound ability to deliver including experienced personnel.”

Tūtaepatu was one of the first significant Ngāi Tahu Claim settlements with the Crown. This area is of major significance to local Māori, for mahinga kai and its association to the wider landscape and its association with Kaiapoi Pā. The term mahinga kai (food-gathering place) here refers to interests in traditional Māori food and other natural resources and the places where these resources are obtained.

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell announced $3.9 million for 32 projects from the 2017 Te Pūnaha Hihiko – Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund on 12 June.


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