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 Current Earth in Mind Research Projects & Major Project Engagement (2015-2020)

Exploration of the Freshwater Resource Potential of the Offshore Aquifers Beneath Wellington Harbour:  Wellington Water Limited and the Greater Wellington Regional Council are currently engaged drilling exploration boreholes in Wellington Harbour to assess the feasibility of abstracting fresh groundwater from the sub-harbour Waiwhetu aquifer for emergency water supply.  The same aquifer is currently utilised onshore and  provides up to about 70% of the city’s water supply.  The onshore borefield and reticulation system in the Hutt Valley are recognised as being vulnerable to earthquake damage potentially cutting the city's water supply for a prolonged period. In order to improve the resilience of the city's water supply, one option is to sink bores into the freshwater aquifer beneath the Wellington harbour closer to the city to provide an emergency supply. The sub-harbour geology has been assessed using a combination of  information derived from seismic reflection surveying, exploration drilling, palaeo-environmental and hydrogeological conceptualisation by GNS Science, NIWA and Earth in Mind Limited. Earth in Mind is leading the hydrogeological components of the investigations including advising the exploration drilling and testing phase, construction of conceptual models and assessment of the feasibility of abstraction in terms of yield potential and saline intrusion risks through numerical modelling.


Smart Models for Aquifer CharacterisationA three-year New Zealand government-funded (MBIE) project led by GNS Science.
This research project focuses on simulating groundwater- surface water interactions to promote a more holistic, collaborative and adaptive freshwater management regime in New Zealand. It aims to address the over-complexity  and expense of standard regional numerical models - which tend to inhibit adaptive management and community engagement - by developing technologies for the creating accurate ‘smart’ models.This research aims to provide a better predictive capability for management of freshwater quality and allocation.  Earth in Mind is a member of the project team, contributing principally in the area of developing  methodologies for conceptual model construction and groundwater-surface water interaction simulation.


Ngā Kete o Te Wānanga: A six-year New Zealand government-funded project led by NIWA aims to explore complementarities and synergies between science and mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) to inform and strengthen freshwater decision-making. An interdisciplinary project team seeks to design and implement trans-cultural collaboration, frameworks, processes and methodologies whilst also meeting the aspirations and needs of Māori.

National resource management policy reforms in New Zealand require development of freshwater management and decision-making approaches that recognise the potential and opportunities offered by Māori knowledge – mātauranga Māori - and its interface with science. Scientists, resource managers and Māori are in general agreement that a partnering of mātauranga Māori and science would provide a richer knowledge base and promote new insights to assist the development of innovative and collaborative strategies for sustainable resource management. 

In 2013, the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) committed to funding a multidisciplinary research programme called ‘Ngā Kete o te Wānanga: Mātauranga, Science and Freshwater Management’ to address the following research question:

How can we develop and optimise synergies between science, mātauranga Māori, and other relevant factors, to improve freshwater management? In particular, how can freshwater objectives, limits, responses and indicators be developed to incorporate or reflect the synergies between science and mātauranga Māori in freshwater monitoring, research and management along with recognising different values around freshwater within decision making?

The project outcomes will provide: (i) improved expression and articulation of tangata whenua knowledge, values and interests in the management of freshwater and estuarine ecosystems (whilst also ‘demystifying’ mātauranga Māori and raising the level of understanding of different worldviews for non-Māori New Zealanders); (ii) increased Māori involvement in New Zealand science programmes; and (iii) improved decision-making surrounding freshwater management based on utilising and understanding mātauranga Māori alongside science knowledge.

Earth in Mind is part of the project team and will assist in the development of frameworks and methods for partnering knowledge systems as well as contributing groundwater science knowledge, particularly in the area of surface water - groundwater interaction.


Collaborative Modelling Project - Ruamahanga Catchment:  A multi-year project for Greater Wellington Regional Council aimed at developing a collaborative modelling framework to support community-led freshwater management needs for regional Whaitua (catchment) committees.  Earth in Mind is part of a large interdisciplinary team with specific input into conceptual and groundwater modelling. An additional role entails recording and reflecting upon the collaborative process within the science team.