Research & Development

The development of research programs and research capacity across a range of fields within Te Tairawhiti region are seen as key goals supporting social, cultural and economic development, and providing the foundation for effective environmental protection and restoration programs.

Nga Mahi Te Taiao has been involved in a range of initiatives over the last decade, working alongside community organisations, hapu, research institutes, and central and local government. Some current programs include:

He Awa Ora, Healthy Rivers for landowners and industry

 He Awa Ora, Healthy Rivers for landowners and industry includes:

  • The provision of independent scientific evaluations of freshwater processes, water quality and biological condition
  • The establishment of ongoing monitoring programs for landowners, managers and industry 
  • The development and implementation of management plans to protect, restore or enhance the freshwater values of an area or setting.


Sustainable land use development through integrated poly-culture design

Traditional patterns of land use typically integrate a series of terrestial and aquatic systems into a sustainable poly-culture, utilising both plant and aquatic species as food and fibre resources. A current project looks at developing models of such poly-cultural systems that combine low energy inputs with moderate to high production returns while maintaining or enhancing indigenous biodiversity values.

Science uptake by students utilising learning experiences outside the classroom 

Experiences of both teachers and students participating in our LEOTC programs over the past decade have indicated the value of these experiences in helping connect the school community to their place, and also to encouraging student interest in real time science based around environmental monitoring and research. This project looks at collecting responses from students and teachers that can provide robust information outlining the potential value of these programs in achieving such socio-ecological goals. 

Teacher Fellowship Scheme

Since 2006, Nga Mahi Te Taiao has been a host for the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Teacher Fellowship project participants. This project provides school teachers with the opportunity to spend six months working with a science provider to develop a particular research initiative, or engage in the general work that the provider is undertaking. The current Teacher Fellow, Sue Ngarimu-Goldsmith, is investigating the relationship between Te Maramataka, the traditional Maori planting and fishing calendar of her family, and western scientific measures around soils, plant growth and marine species presence. 

In 2008, Jason Love completed a fellowship, Nga Tohu Taiao, recording indigenous regional indicators of weather patterns and climatic change  In 2009 Lisa Maniapoto completed a fellowship with us as co-host researching the evolution of Waka culture and technology throughout Te Moananui a Kiwa (Pacific Ocean).   

Gisborne Te Turanganui a Kiwa wastewater project

Murray palmer has been involved with the Gisborne District Wastewater Technical Advisory Group since its inception in 2010. Since that time he has been involved in a range of research initiatives including a study of the social and environmental components of wastewater management in our region, co-authoring of a scoping report for the Te Turanganui a Kiwa Water Quality Enhancement Project, a survey of the ecology of the Biological Trickling Filter Plant, and participation in a suite of projects designed to assess the biotransformation of the municipal wastewater effluent and opportunities for alternative systems of use and disposal (AUD)   

Te Tairawhiti Freshwater Ecosystem Surveys 

This is an ongoing project aimed at surveying the impacts of land use patterns on freshwater and coastal water quality, and the development of guidelines for best management practice for protecting and restoring aquatic values. Freshwater research provides an ongoing focus for NMTT. This work also includes developing an understanding of the relationship of these patterns with social and cultural values. Murray Palmer, NMTT principal, also participates as a member of the Gisborne District Freshwater Advisory Group  

Recent research and development initiatives include:

  • A study of Kie kie (Freycinetia banksii) reproduction and propagation, and the development of management protocols for cultural harvest with Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc. Nuhaka. 
  • The ecology and traditional and contemporary management of Lake Whakaki. Document link. Other research strands completed with the Whakaki Lake Trust include: The biology and ecology of the freshwater eel Anguilla sp.; native bird breeding; and initiatives for environmental education. Visit the DOC website for more information. 
  • The identification and recording of sites of ecological and cultural significance as background to the sustainable development plan for Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc at Nuhaka.