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Iwi Industry Partnership & 1st Aquaculture Degree

Partnership with iwi and industry leads to NZ’s first aquaculture degree

Extensive consultation with Iwi and industry has resulted in the country’s first degree qualification in aquaculture, which will be offered at Auckland University of Technology next year. In a move that will provide highly trained professionals for one of the country’s burgeoning industries, Bachelor of Applied Science students will be able to choose the Aquaculture major from early 2004, says Dr Andrea Alfaro, Senior Lecturer in Marine Ecology at AUT.

“The aquaculture industry has expanded rapidly over the last few years. Consultation with industry has revealed a real need for graduates with a good knowledge of the practical proficiencies required as well as a sound academic grounding in aquaculture and awareness of the importance of the marine environment to Maori.

“The Aquaculture major offered at AUT will deliver this through its strong links with industry, where many practical activities will take place, and by including a diverse range of relevant papers including coastal management, marine ecology, biochemistry, microbiology and genetics.”

Consultation with Northland iwi has garnered support for the programme and the University plans to partner with several commercial operations owned by Maori in its delivery, says Ngaire Harris, AUT Maori Community Liaison Co-ordinator.

“Maori own a significant percentage of the aquaculture industry. We hope to attract Maori students to the programme so they can help develop the aquaculture businesses in their communities when they graduate.”

The success of aquaculture practices in New Zealand has been aided by a strong government commitment to increase support for aquaculture industries and their exports. The new degree will be a boon to the fledgling export industry in which many professionals have in the past been trained overseas or have learned on the job, says Dr Alfaro.

AUT is currently negotiating with the National Institute of Water and Air Research (NIWA), which has expertise and first grade aquaculture facilities, for involvement in the programme, says Dr Alfaro.

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