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GNS Science wins funding for iwi-linked science projects

Projects to revive land impacted by geothermal development near Reporoa and improve the land and water quality around Hokianga Harbour in the Far North have each received a $100,000 funding boost in the latest round of the Government’s Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund.

The Fund is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and invests in programmes that help Māori development for the benefit of New Zealand.

Funding for the two projects has been awarded to GNS Science and its Māori partners - Tāhorakuri A1 Section 30 Trust in Ohaki, and Te Rarawa Anga Mua in Hokianga.

GNS Science will work with Tāhorakuri A1 Section 30 Trust to revive land which has suffered from subsidence, loss of geothermal surface features and westward migration of the Waikato River.

The Trust administers land adjacent to the Ohaaki Geothermal Power Station and these events have had significant cultural impacts on hapū and whanau.

The Trust wants to reconnect their community and economy with the geothermal land and unlock the value of resources of the land while ensuring its restoration.

“We are excited to work in partnership with GNS Science on this important first step towards recovering and healing our whenua,” Tess Kora from the Trust said.

“We look forward to understanding more about our options for sustainable eco-development, and ultimately reconnecting more of our whanau back to our whenua and each other.”

Project leader for GNS Science, Anya Seward, said the work would build a model combining geoscience with mātauranga-a-hapū, to develop a plan for protecting, preserving and possibly restoring wāhi tapu and taonga.

“It will combine geothermal, fresh water and cultural resources with economic opportunities based on collaboration between hapū and geothermal field operators,” Dr Seward said.

The second project will see GNS Science staff working with Far North iwi Te Rarawa Anga Mua to build their capacity to manage and restore parts of Hokianga Harbour.

Human activity has resulted in species loss, poor water quality, and damaging siltation, and communities want to restore and regenerate the harbour.

Wendy Henwood of Te Rarawa Anga Mua said the project aligned well with the Iwi’s goal of supporting the intergenerational development of whanau, hapū, and iwi with a focus on environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.

“We are excited about this collaboration and see it as a step towards growing interest in science and research of the Hokianga Harbour via the history gleaned from the sediment cores and mātauranga Māori.”

GNS Science project co-leader Kyle Bland said scientists would collect sediment cores from the harbour and analyse material from the past 1000 years.

“If we can see changes in the environment before and after human settlement, we can understand how we can regenerate it,” Dr Bland said.

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