Takahē Awareness Month

Source: Department of Conservation

April is Takahē Awareness Month, when DOC, Ngāi Tahu, our national partner Fulton Hogan, and the wide network of supporters take the opportunity to celebrate the great work of the Takahē Recovery Programme and engage New Zealanders to get out there, see a takahē, and learn about a piece of conservation history.

With around 375 takahē in the population today, takahē have come a long way since being considered extinct over 70 years ago. On top of seeing an average growth rate of 10% each year, the Programme is celebrating a year since we took the first steps towards establishing a second wild takahē population in Kahurangi National Park.

Fulton Hogan CEO Graeme Johnson and DOC Senior Takahē Ranger Glen Greaves releasing takahē in the Murchison Mountains. Credit: Anna Clare.

Learn about takahē:

For 50 years takahē were thought to be extinct until a party led by Dr Geoffrey Orbell rediscovered takahē in the Fiordland Murchison Mountains in 1948.

Watch the short film ‘Takahē – Return to the Wild’ to follow the journey of takahē from rediscovery to the successes of today’s recovery programme.

See a takahē:

Where Takahē Live

Outside of the wild populations in the  Murchison Mountains and Kahurangi National Park, takahē live at sanctuary sites. With the exception of the Burwood Takahē Centre, Cape Sanctuary, and two privately owned islands, these are all open to the public.

Takahē at public sites are our ambassadors, providing opportunities for you to admire and learn more about these amazing ‘pre-historic’ looking birds.

Kiwi Guardians + Takahē Recovery Collaboration

During Takahē Awareness Month, Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin, Wellington’s Zealandia Ecosanctuary, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre in northern Waiarapa, and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari near Cambridge, will be offering Toyota Kiwi Guardians the opportunity to get outside and see a takahē for free. Existing Kiwi Guardians will be sent a unique codeword which they can use to receive free entry to these sanctuaries. With a unique codeword provided, Kiwi Guardians can visit any of these sanctuaries and receive free entry. Not a Kiwi Guardian yet? Visit www.kiwiguardians.co.nz to see how you can get involved and receive the codeword when you redeem your first medal.

While visiting one of the Takahē Sanctuaries during Takahē Awareness Month in April, take a photo of a takahē and be in to win a Kiwi Guardians + takahē prize pack! Comment on the Kiwi Guardians Facebook post with an awesome photo of a takahē to enter.

Remember, always keep your distance from takahē at all time to avoid disturbing them and never attempt to touch or feed the birds.

Fullers360 Takahē Photo Competition

To celebrate Takahē Awareness Month, Fullers360 Ferry Service in the Hauraki Gulf, along with Rotoroa Island Trust and Tiritiri Matangi Island Trust, are running a Takahē Photo Competition with visitors to these takahē sanctuaries.

Take a photo of a takahē on Rotoroa or Tiritiri Matangi Island and post it to Facebook. Tag @Fullers360 and you’ll go in the draw to win a family ferry pass and overnight stay on Rotoroa Island OR a family ferry pass and guided walk on Tiritiri Matangi Island. To enter, use the official Takahē frame filter on Facebook and snap a photo of either a takahē or yourself on Rotoroa or Tiritiri Matangi. Tag @Fullers360 on Facebook or submit your photo via the Fullers360 website.

As well as the photo competition, Rotoroa Island will be hosting a free Takahē Walk & Talk on 27th April for visitors to the island.

Tiritiri Matangi will be holding daily takahē talks and feeding at 1:30pm daily and have a number of kid’s activities to do around the visitor centre, including colouring in’s, takahē mask making, and creating the world’s longest takahē poem!

Donate to Takahē Recovery

You can help support the Takahē Recovery Programme in our goal to restore this precious taonga species back to the wild by either sponsoring one of the Kahurangi founder takahē or donating direct to the Recovery Programme.
All donations are administered by our partner the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation – an independent charitable trust.

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Groundwater central to the country’s future

Source: ESR

Groundwater is central to the future of the country’s freshwater and waterways, says ESR’s chief scientist.

Brett Cowan says the country’s top earners such as tourism, dairy and marine industries are all underpinned by and dependent on water.                

“The cost of not making groundwater a priority is enormous; polluted and dead waterways,” he says.

Groundwater is the enormous collection of water in the pores or cracks in sands, gravel and rocks which flows into our springs, rivers and lakes and is essential for the environment, communities and agricultural productivity.

“For all that, scientists still know relatively little about groundwater, particularly about how it is being affected by increasing demand, pollution and climate change. It’s vital that we build up our scientific knowledge to protect groundwater now and for future generations.”

 The leader of ESR’s groundwater science team, Murray Close, says as the government embarks on huge water reforms, it is critical that groundwater takes its central place, particularly in the face of new challenges such as climate change and emerging organic contaminants such as pesticides.

The health of groundwater, which 40 per cent of New Zealanders rely on for drinking water, is crucial to the quality of surface water.

He and Dr Cowan were commenting following a conference in Christchurch, which, for the first time, brought together about 80 people from all around the country to tackle the management and research of groundwater.

Murray Close says generally groundwater is “out of sight, out of mind”, and only noticed when something goes wrong, such as the widespread illness linked to a contaminated bore two years ago in Havelock North which affected 5,000 New Zealanders.

He says today’s conference was valuable because it is helping to build a broader framework of people working on groundwater, with hopefully a national agenda for what is an overlooked, but valuable resource.

“There needs to be a coherent voice on groundwater because it is so important to the health and economy of the country.”

 “There are 200 major aquifers in the country – we only have geological models for 30, so there’s a lot more we need to know.”

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Native Waitaha geckos released in Riccarton Bush

Source: Department of Conservation

Introduction

Native geckos are set to find a new home in Riccarton Bush as part of a Lyttelton Port Company project supported by DOC.

Date:  05 April 2019 Source:  Lyttelton Port Company

On Monday April 8, Dr Graham Ussher and his team from RMA Ecology will be safely capturing Waitaha geckos from the Gollans Bay quarry to be released in Riccarton Bush on Tuesday afternoon April 9.

The eastern part of the Gollans Bay quarry has not been quarried before and is being used as part of the Lyttelton Port Company’s (LPC) Te Awaparahi Bay Reclamation project, creating a new container terminal to keep up with shipping demands.

Some of the area is habitat for New Zealand native Waitaha gecko, and LPC recently gained a Wildlife permit from DOC which sets out how the company must manage the effects on geckos.

Dr Ussher says the Waitaha are a small, nocturnal native gecko special to the central and southern South Island.

DOC regards the Waitaha geckos as a species that has reduced in numbers and distribution since the arrival of people and pest animals. They can live to be over 36 years old.

“That is why LPC is doing its best to capture and relocate the geckos to a safe place before the quarry is developed,” says Dr Ussher.

Last week Dr Ussher and LPC workers placed artificial habitats at key locations around the quarry to safely capture the geckos.

The team is aiming to catch all the geckos within the salvage area, which will include young lizards as well as adults which could be over 20 years old. The geckos will be released into tall native forest at Riccarton Bush.

“Although Riccarton Bush is different to the habitat from which they will be captured, we expect that they will do just fine – they are hard wired to use a range of habitats,” says Dr Ussher. “We are confident they will enjoy their new lodgings.”

Riccarton Bush was chosen because it has 7.8 hectares of established forest surrounded by a state-of-the-art pest and mammal-proof fence that keeps out predators such as rats and cats.

Before the arrival of humans, geckos would have been abundant and lived in a range of habitats from the sea shore to the forest canopy.

DOC’s Community Ranger Rachel Brown says a similar release of geckos was done in 2012 as part of the Sumner Road recovery project.

“Those geckos have been regularly seen by visitors and the Riccarton Bush Trust Ranger, so it’s fantastic to see more of these native creatures safely relocated.”

All New Zealand geckos are fully protected, meaning they may only be handled under permit. It is illegal to deliberately harm them.

Ngāti Wheke are supporting the relocation of the geckos and will be attending the release to perform a karakia.

Background information

Reporters are welcome to attend the release of the geckos on Tuesday, April 9 at Riccarton Bush. We will be meeting ay 1.30 pm at Riccarton House for the release at 2 pm.

Waitaha geckos

  • Scientific name: Woodworthia cf. brunnea
  • Common name: Waitaha gecko
  • Naming authority: Cope, 1869
  • Bio status category: Indigenous (Endemic)
  • NZ threat classification: Declining

Description:

  • Brown, grey or olive with paler bands, blotches or stripes that are usually bright, and large blackish patches (especially on the intact tail).
  • Usually with a narrow or broad pale stripe running from nostril to eye.
  • Mouth lining pink, tongue pink with grey tip.
  • Eye greenish, brown or yellow and often very large.
  • Measures 53-80 mm from snout tip to vent.
  • Specimens from coastal duneland habitat are distinctly smaller (53-68 mm between snout and vent) than those from adjacent forest/rock bluff environments (68-80 mm between snout and vent).
  • Lifespan can exceed 36 years.

Contact

Phillipa Webb
Communications Advisor
Lyttelton Port Company
Phone: +64 27 373 0726

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Measles – not what you want for Easter

Source: ESR

      

          

 So far this year there have been 67 cases of measles reported in New Zealand, with most cases linked to outbreaks in Canterbury and the Auckland Region over recent weeks.

In addition to the outbreaks in New Zealand, there have been measles outbreaks reported recently in other countries including the USA, the Philippines and parts of Europe.

In New Zealand measles outbreaks start when measles is brought into the country following international travel.  The virus then spreads to others in the community because our vaccination rates are not high enough to prevent disease spread.

ESR, which tracks all notifiable diseases on behalf of the Ministry of Health, says that with people travelling around the country and around the world over Easter and the school holidays there is an increased risk of cases spreading further around the country and of further measles cases being imported.

ESR Group Leader, Intelligence, Dr Lisa Oakley says people should be mindful of the risks of measles.

“They should also think about the importance of immunisation and of the possibility that they could be exposed to measles, especially if they are travelling, attending events, holiday programmes, camps, or have friends and family travelling to visit them,” Dr Oakley says.  

Measles is a serious and highly infectious disease and immunisation is the best protection to stop the spread of getting measles. For the best protection, people need to have two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations. The MMR is available from your family practice and you should ask if you are eligible for a free vaccination.

Anyone who suspects they may have measles should avoid contact with other people, especially those who aren’t fully immunised, and should phone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. It is important to call first because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.

Further information including current case numbers is available here: https://surv.esr.cri.nz/surveillance/WeeklyMeaslesRpt.php (external link)

 

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Follow the rules and keep safe while hunting

Source: Department of Conservation

Introduction

The deer ‘roar’ is underway and DOC is urging thousands of hunters descending on public conservation land to keep safe.

Date:  05 April 2019

During the breeding season male deer ‘roar’ to warn off rival stags, attracting hunters taking advantage of a prime hunting opportunity.

DOC’s national key contact for recreational hunting, Mark Beardsley says all hunters need to put safety first.

“This is the busiest time of the year for hunting and we need to keep each other safe out there,” he says.

With a spike in hunter numbers out in the hills chasing a trophy stag and with multiple hazards including firearms, falls and river crossings, it’s not hard to see why a third of all search and rescues happen in April.

“Good pre-trip planning goes a long way to keep you and your hunting party safe.

“Please remember hunting in the dark or ‘spotlighting’ is a serious risk to others and is not permitted on public conservation land. It’s best to take the opportunity to rest after a hard day hunting,” says Mark.

The NZ Mountain Safety Council is also reminding hunters to keep safe this month as they roam the backcountry. 

“We know 88% of ‘big game’ hunting fatalities in the North Island involved a firearm and 80% of daytime misidentified shootings are members of the same party,” says Chief Executive, Mike Daisley.

“There’s a clear message to all ‘big game’ hunters that identifying your target is of the utmost importance because it’s quite possible it’s not a deer and might be one of your hunting party.”

DOC’s Mark Beardsley says its important hunters making the most of the ‘roar’ have a current hunting permit and comply with local hunting restrictions.

“Before going after that trophy, make sure you obtain a hunting permit from the DOC website or local DOC office. If you’re taking your dog hunting you’ll need a separate dog permit too.

Mark says the presence of deer is increasing nationally across public conservation land and hunters play an important role in helping to keep numbers down.

“While many hunters will be looking for a nice trophy animal, why not shoot a few extra and take some meat home for the family?”

The extra effort controlling deer this month contributes to reducing the impact the increasing deer population is having on vegetation.

“Our monitoring reports show deer negatively impact native vegetation and target favourite species, like broadleaf. This prevents regeneration and causes significant changes to the structure and composition of native ecosystems.”

Information on where to hunt on public conservation land, how to get a permit and safe hunting practice can be found on the DOC website.

Helpful links

Some top tips for staying safe this season are:

  • Identify your target. Ensure the complete animal is seen; don’t shoot based on individual items such as colour, shape, sound or movement. If in any doubt, shift to get a better view or don’t shoot at all. Use binoculars to identify your target; the rifle scope should only be used to place the shot.
  • Know the area you are hunting and share your knowledge with the other members of your party. Before the hunt, have everyone agree on hunting areas with a clearly defined “no fire zone” between areas.
  • Don’t assume there is no one else nearby.
  • If carrying a deer carcass or trophy head, cover it in some way so that it is clearly contrasted with the environment.
  • Be visible; wear clothing that contrasts with the environment and the animals being hunted and have appropriate gear.
  • Be alert and prepared for changes in conditions. Monitor and assess the weather.
  • Be familiar and practised with the firearm you will be using.
  • Remember the hunt is not over till everyone is safely home.

Contact

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Groundbreaking study shows how to protect a third of our oceans by 2030

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

A scientific report released today has mapped out how to protect over a third of the world’s oceans in the next ten years – a target scientists say is crucial in order to safeguard wildlife and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

As governments meet at the UN this week to negotiate towards an historic Global Ocean Treaty, the report shows how this ambitious target could be achieved, through a network of ocean sanctuaries across the planet.

The report, titled 30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection, is the result of a year-long collaboration between leading academics at the University of York, University of Oxford, and Greenpeace.

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner, Jessica Desmond, says as an island nation with  the fourth largest EEZ on the planet, it’s vital New Zealand gets behind the Global Ocean Treaty.

“The strongest possible Global Oceans Treaty would include a global body to designate, monitor and implement marine sanctuaries internationally,” she says.

“As yet the New Zealand delegation has not fully committed to this approach, but if we leave it up to regional bodies to do this we will get the haphazard ‘status-quo’ of oceans protection, which has failed so far.”

The historic report explains how healthy global oceans, full of marine life and able to perform their vital climate regulation role, benefit all life on Earth, including coastal communities everywhere.

In one of the largest ever studies of its kind, researchers broke down the global oceans – which cover almost half the planet – into 25,000 squares of 100×100 kilometres, and mapped the distribution of 458 different conservation features, including wildlife, habitats and key oceanographic features, generating hundreds of scenarios for what a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity, could look like.

Professor Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York and one of the report’s authors, says the speed at which the high seas have been depleted of some of their most spectacular and iconic wildlife has taken the world by surprise.

“Extraordinary losses of seabirds, turtles, sharks and marine mammals reveal a broken governance system that governments at the United Nations must urgently fix,” he says.

“This report shows how protected areas could be rolled out across international waters to create a net of protection that will help save species from extinction and help them survive in our fast-changing world.”

Negotiations at the UN towards a Global Ocean Treaty could pave the way for the protection of oceans outside of national borders, that cover 230 million square kilometres. This research explores what it would mean to fully protect 30% and 50% of the global oceans, both widely discussed ambitions for conservation targets.

Various scenarios for protection, as well as wildlife hotspots and threats to the ocean, can be explored using this interactive map.

ENDS

30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection Report:

Executive Summary here.

Full report.

Interactive Map here.

Photo and video:

For a free-to-use collection of ocean photo and video, see here.

Contacts:

Jessica Desmond, Greenpeace NZ Oceans campaigner: +64 21 065 1914

Ellie Hooper, Greenpeace NZ communications and media: +64 22 561 1340

Luke Massey, Greenpeace International communications and media luke.massey@greenpeace.org, +44 (0) 7973 873 155

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NIWA’s Hotspot Watch for 4 April 2019

Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

A weekly update describing soil moisture across the country to help assess whether severely to extremely dry conditions are occurring or imminent.  Regions experiencing these soil moisture deficits are deemed “hotspots”.  Persistent hotspot regions have the potential to develop into drought.

Facts: Soil Moisture

Across the North Island, soil moisture levels increased substantially in many areas during the past week, while only a couple of localised areas experienced small soil moisture decreases. The most significant increases were observed in parts of Northland, Auckland, Waikato, eastern Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Taranaki. Meanwhile, small soil moisture decreases occurred in western Northland and coastal Wairarapa. The driest soils across the North Island compared to normal for this time of the year are found in western Northland and coastal Wairarapa, while the wettest soils for this time of the year are located in eastern Bay of Plenty and southern Taranaki.

Hotspot coverage in the North Island decreased substantially in the past week due to many areas receiving moderate to heavy rainfall. However, hotspots remain in place across western Northland and Aupouri Peninsula, a small portion of central Waikato, southern Manawatu-Whanganui, and much of Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay.

In the South Island, soil moisture levels generally did not change significantly in the past week. Far northern areas saw some additional soil moisture increases, while the rest of the South Island generally observed minor soil moisture decreases. This decrease was most notable in eastern areas from northern Canterbury to Otago. The driest soils across the South Island compared to normal for this time of the year are found in lower Southland, while the wettest soils for this time of the year are found in the Marlborough Sounds area.

South Island hotspots are currently found in a disjointed line down the eastern coast from northern Canterbury to the Clutha District, including much of Banks Peninsula.

Outlook and Soil Moisture

In the North Island, rainfall amounts through Friday (5 April) will generally be light, although isolated moderate amounts will be possible in Northland due to shower activity. During the upcoming weekend, weak low pressure forming near or just east of the North Island will bring moderate rainfall to eastern areas that may last into early next week. Depending on the location of this low pressure, moderate rainfall could also affect the upper North Island this weekend. Drier weather will likely return to the North Island by Tuesday and Wednesday (9-10 April). Total rainfall amounts in the next week could reach 30-50 mm from Gisborne to Wellington-Wairarapa, with localised amounts up to 30 mm in the upper North Island. Elsewhere, amounts of 20 mm or less are expected.

Due to the anticipated rainfall in the next week, soil moisture improvements would be expected along the east coast, likely weakening the hotspots present there. Should moderate rainfall also occur in the upper North Island, some improvements may also be found there. Meanwhile, western areas may see slight soil moisture decreases in the next week.

In the South Island, a front moving north today and on Friday (5 April) will produce generally 5-15 mm for many areas, and perhaps a bit more in central and northern Canterbury. During the upcoming weekend, low pressure near the North Island could bring more moderate rain to northern Canterbury and Marlborough, while other areas remain mostly dry. By Wednesday (10 April), another front could bring moderate rain to the West Coast and another 5-15 mm to Southland and Otago.

Potential moderate rainfall amounts across Marlborough and northern Canterbury could help weaken or eliminate hotspots in those areas, although not much change in the soil moisture situation is expected in southern Canterbury in the next week. Some improvements could also be found across Southland, while soils may begin to dry in Nelson and nearby parts of Tasman.

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Background:

Hotspot Watch: a weekly advisory service for New Zealand media. It provides soil moisture and precipitation measurements around the country to help assess whether extremely dry conditions are imminent. 

Soil moisture deficit:  the amount of water needed to bring the soil moisture content back to field capacity, which is the maximum amount of water the soil can hold.

Soil moisture anomaly:  the difference between the historical normal soil moisture deficit (or surplus) for a given time of year and actual soil moisture deficits.

Definitions: “Extremely” and “severely” dry soils are based on a combination of the current soil moisture status and the difference from normal soil moisture (see soil moisture maps at https://www.niwa.co.nz/climate/nz-drought-monitor/droughtindicatormaps)

Hotspot: A hotspot is declared if soils are “severely drier than normal” which occurs when Soil Moisture Deficit (SMD) is less than -110 mm AND the Soil Moisture Anomaly is less than -20 mm.

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Earth dam researcher wins 2019 Ivan Skinner AwardThursday, April 4, 2019Dr Kaley Crawford-Flett has been awarded the 2019 Ivan Skinner Award by EQC and NZSEE

Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

Dr Kaley Crawford-Flett has been awarded the 2019 Ivan Skinner Award by the Earthquake Commission and New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering for excellence in earthquake engineering research.

The award was presented at the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering’s annual conference today and recognises Dr Crawford-Flett’s work on dam engineering, in particular the performance of New Zealand embankment dams in regard to seismic events.

EQC Director Resilience, Dr Hugh Cowan said that Dr Crawford-Flett has made an excellent contribution to earthquake engineering knowledge and she works in an area with considerable potential for further advances.

“Kaley’s work is highly collaborative and strengthened already unique linkages between researchers and industry in a field where few others were practicing.

“New Zealand presented particular challenges for embankment dam management that were not necessarily understood internationally. This included the variability of soil types and the highly tectonic environment in which the dams are located.

“Earth or rockfill dams accounted for at least 75 per cent of all dams in New Zealand. Most of these embankment structures were designed at least 40 years ago before the evolution of current engineering design standards.

“This Award will allow Kaley to broaden her world leading research and allow her to put time into writing, publishing and presenting her work internationally.”

The Ivan Skinner Award is made each year in support of research that helps reduce the impact of earthquakes on people and property.

Dr Crawford-Flett works as a geotechnical researcher at the University of Canterbury Quake Centre, where she leads academic and industry research on the seismic behaviour of earthfill dam materials.  

She is also a MBIE-appointed member of the Technical Working Group for proposed New Zealand Dam Safety regulation and is a reviewer for several academic journals. Her unique combination of skills and applied knowledge make her a valuable addition to NZ’s research community.  

Photo caption: Dr Kaley Crawford-Flett (on left of photo) being presented with the 2019 Ivan Skinner Award by EQC Commissioner Dr Erica Seville

Dr Crawford-Flett

Dr Crawford-Flett has worked for the University of Canterbury Quake Centre since 2014 where she is a geotechnical researcher and project coordinator.

Kaley leads academic and industry research on the seismic behaviour of earthfill dam materials and has secured the involvement of several of New Zealand’s large asset owners in guiding that work. 

Kaley’s research has included the design of innovative large-scale laboratory equipment for simulated-seismic hydromechanical testing of real dam soils.

Kaley is an elected member of the New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD) management committee.  She also serves as a reviewer for various academic journals including Geotechnique Letters, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, and ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering.

The Ivan Skinner Award

The annual $10,000 Ivan Skinner award is sponsored by EQC and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) to promote research that reduces the impacts of earthquakes on New Zealand communities.

The award commemorates Dr Ivan Skinner who conceived the idea of ‘base isolation’ to protect buildings and bridges during earthquakes.

Ivan is best remembered for his work at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research during the 1960s. From 1994-2005, he was EQC’s Research Director. Ivan was a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a Fellow of NZSEE, and he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 1990.

The award is open to:

  • A New Zealand earthquake engineering researcher who has already demonstrated high promise with early achievements, or
  • An undergraduate student or individual holding other relevant qualifications, who shows exceptional promise in contributing to the field of earthquake engineering research, or
  • Someone employed in a role in which earthquake engineering research is relevant and undertaken.

In addition, pioneering or innovative research based on unusual combinations of knowledge and skills is given favourable consideration.

EQC Media Contact: David Miller, 027 406 3476, media@eqc.govt.nz

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International report card on New Zealand’s indigenous nature

Source: Department of Conservation

Introduction

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says that we must do better.

Date:  04 April 2019

The Minister says the latest report on how New Zealand is tracking against national and global biodiversity targets demonstrates the importance of increased investment in conservation.

“Earlier this year I announced details of how DOC is spending an additional $76 million in Government funding to address New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis. The 6th National Report under the Convention of Biological Diversity shows how desperately needed that investment is.

“This report finds progress in some important areas including improved planning, more indigenous nature on private land under active protection and more people enjoying conservation experiences.

“However, land use changes and introduced predators and pests continue to threaten our most precious ecosystems, native plants and wildlife. More than 4,000 of New Zealand’s native plant and wildlife species are threatened or at risk of extinction and more needs to be done.

“This national report under the Convention on Biological Diversity is more transparent about the way New Zealand’s marine protected areas are categorised than previous reports. The report says that 0.4 per cent of New Zealand’s marine and coastal area is covered by the strictest international definition of 100 per cent “no-take” marine reserves. It also notes that nearly 30 per cent of New Zealand’s marine and coastal area is protected in some way, if other measures such as specific fishing restrictions are considered.

“This government is committed to protecting New Zealand’s valuable marine species and habitats and establishing a representative network of marine protected areas around New Zealand.

“Ministers are currently considering the recommendations of the South-East Marine Protection Forum and are also in the process of establishing a Ministerial Advisory Committee to progress the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial Plan. 

“As well as new money for biodiversity, DOC is leading the process to develop a new national Biodiversity Strategy that will commit New Zealand to a clear vision and specific measures to better protect our unique plants and wildlife and special places, including our oceans.

“I’m particularly pleased that the report identifies a wealth of conservation initiatives and work being delivered outside of central government. New Zealanders are passionate about our indigenous nature and future reports will aim to better describe how work by iwi and hapu, councils, businesses and community organisations is helping meet international targets.

“The report is a valuable resource for people wanting to understand what work is being done on biodiversity across New Zealand,” says Eugenie Sage.

Read New Zealand’s Sixth National Report.

Contact

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ESR says groundwater critical to large number of drinking supplies

Source: ESR

                                 

ESR leading water scientist Murray Close says the country’s groundwater needs urgent attention.

An inaugural conference on groundwater is being held in Christchurch tomorrow (Friday April 5 – see below for details), in a bid to improve understanding and information about a resource which 40 per cent of people in New Zealand rely on for their drinking water supplies.

ESR leading water scientist Murray Close says the country’s groundwater needs urgent attention.

Murray Close says the health of groundwater is crucial to the quality of surface water.

 Groundwater is made up of water in the pores or cracks in sands, gravel and rocks and is essential for the environment, communities and agricultural productivity.

 “While our rivers and the state of their health are rightly regarded as important taonga, little attention is given to the groundwater that sustains the flows in most of our rivers and streams.”

 He says most of the time groundwater is out of sight, out of mind.

 “When we do notice it, it’s when something goes wrong, such as the widespread illness linked to a contaminated bore that took place two years ago in Havelock North,” he says.

 With more than five thousand people affected, the contamination of water supplies in Havelock North was regarded as one of the worst public health outbreaks in the western world.

 “For all that, scientists still know relatively little about groundwater, particularly about how it might be affected by increasing demand, pollution and climate change. It’s vital that we build up our scientific knowledge to protect groundwater now and for future generations.”

 The government has introduced two major water initiatives, the Three Waters Review and the Essential Freshwater programme.

 A report on the Three Waters Review released late last year, said in many parts of the country, communities could not be certain that drinking water is safe.

 It also said the events that led to the Havelock North contamination, have demonstrated that the existing system does not adequately safeguard against the

risk of catastrophic contamination incidences, or drive improving compliance with the drinking water standards.

 “The Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water observed there is little understanding amongst the New Zealand public about the large numbers of people who become ill every year by consuming unsafe drinking water,” the report said.

 Murray Close says as the government embarks on huge water reforms, it is critical that groundwater is not forgotten, particularly in the face of new challenges such as climate change and emerging organic contaminants.

 Conference information

 GroundsWell 2019: Symposium on Groundwater Management and Research

 WHEN: Friday, April 5, 2019 from 9:30am – 4:30pm

 WHERE:  University of Canterbury Students’ Association’s Event Centre, 90 Illam Road, Christchurch 

 WHO: Keynote speakers include Ken Taylor, Director, Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, Tina Porou, Poipoi Limited, Tim Davie, Chief Scientist, Environment Canterbury, Graham Sevicke-Jones, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research

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