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Partnership to Increase Ocean Research & Conservation in NZ

Innovative University-NGO Partnership Will Increase Support for Island and Ocean Conservation

Unique partnership between University of Auckland and Conservation International aims to build scientific capacity and research.

August 28, 2014 - A new partnership, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was launched last night between the University of Auckland (UoA) and NGO Conservation International (CI). This broad-based partnership will increase marine research, scientific capacity and a common vision for stewardship of our ocean.

Sue Miller-Taei, CI's Pacific Island and New Zealand Executive Director, said, ‘We see this collaboration as very timely given the immense pressure on the resources of the Pacific Ocean. This partnership will invest key support in the conservation and sustainable use of the vast natural wealth of the Pacific Islands region.’
Miller¬-Taei noted that the UoA is a natural base for CI as it is a world-class education and research institution that has significant interest and expertise in the Pacific. “CI is a science based NGO which has mutual interests with the UoA in research, conservation and building capacity among people and institutions in New Zealand and across the Pacific Islands.”

Head of the University’s Institute of Marine Science, Professor Simon Thrush, said the collaboration with CI would help to highlight major marine conservation issues in the Pacific. “This partnership provides new opportunities for students and staff to engage in research addressing integrative conservation and resource management issues in our region. The opportunity to strengthen our understanding of important conservation issues facing our region is important, and working with CI we will be better placed to train students and engage them in solution-focused research.”

Representing New Zealand’s support for the partnership, Pacific Economic Ambassador, His Excellency Shane Jones spoke at the event where he highlighted the importance of such partnerships for the Pacific Islands. “New Zealand supports innovative partnerships in the Pacific, such as this research partnership between the University of Auckland and Conservation International, which contribute to sustainable development pathways for our region’s natural resources. New Zealand welcomes Conservation International to our shores.”

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna also attended the launch. Puna highlighted the work CI has already carried out in the Pacific Islands and his hopes for the partnership. “CI has provided essential support for the Marae Moana, the Cook Islands 1.1 million km2 Marine Park, to protect our valuable coastal and marine resources. In fact, only a few days ago, together we launched an innovative center in Rarotonga to share information and gather feedback from our people on the design and zonation of the Marae Moana. It is advancements like this that CI have helped make possible that are changing the way our natural resources are managed so that they benefit of all levels of society and are managed sustainably for future generations to enjoy. This new partnership with the University of Auckland will increase scientific capacity and hopefully add to the momentum already underway in the Pacific under the Pacific Oceanscape to protect and conserve that which we must in order to ensure a environment which continues to provide for our people”.

CI has a global presence with over 30 offices worldwide, and has worked in the Pacific Islands since the mid 1990s investing more than $17 million USD in conservation and research in the Pacific Islands alone. The NGO has country programme offices in Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea and significant project investments in Kiribati, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, and Vanuatu. These include some of the world's largest marine protected areas such as Kiribati's Phoenix Islands Protected Area (408,5250 km2), New Caledonia’s Natural Park of the Coral Sea (1.3 million km2) and the Marae Moana, Cook Islands Marine Park (1.1 million km2).
CI’s is a founding NGO partner in the Pacific Island Forum Leaders' Pacific Oceanscape, a region-wide integrated ocean and island management initiative totalling over 40 million km2 of islands and ocean.

This partnership launch comes on the eve of the Third International Conference for Small Island Developing States to be held in Samoa the following week. The theme of this Conference will be on sustainable development through genuine and durable partnerships.

About CI's Pacific Island and New Zealand Executive Director - Sue Miller-Taei – Sue is a part Samoan Kiwi who has returned home after 20 years in Samoa and working throughout the Pacific region leading initiatives in the Pacific Islands for CI. Sue began her career at the University of Auckland and continued this at Waikato University. Sue left for the Pacific Islands in 1994 where she set up the region's first conservation campaigns and initiatives for turtles, coral reefs and invasive species. She has worked on protected areas in every Pacific Island country and territory, from small village based initiatives, to the largest MPAs in the world. “Coming home to Auckland and New Zealand is an immense opportunity to bridge two worlds of islands– those of the developed and developing– both of which can learn from each other, and all of which have urgent and important work ahead to build the capacity of people and institutions to be effective stewards of our ocean.” – Sue Miller-Taei.

About Professor Simon Thrush, Institute of Marine Science, University of Auckland -
Simon Thrush obtained a BSc (Hons) from the University of Otago, New Zealand and a PhD from the University of East Anglia, England. He is the Director of the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Auckland. Simon has over 25 years of experience in the development and implementation of strategic ecological research to influence resource management and improve societal valuation of marine ecosystems. His research interests include coastal and estuarine marine ecology; the influence of disturbance events on populations and communities and their implications for recovery and resilience; ecological impact assessment, particularly of diffuse source and/or broad-scale effects; the design and implementation of ecological monitoring programmes; the environmental effects of fishing; organism-sediment interactions; organism-hydrodynamic interactions; functional biodiversity and biocomplexity. He has contributed to over 180 publications in the peer reviewed scientific literature and 100 consultancy reports and enjoys extensive international collaboration with colleagues in USA, Canada, Britain, Norway, Finland, Spain, Netherlands and Italy.

ENDS

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