During 2015 MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) ran a pilot of the
platform in three areas: South Auckland, Taranaki, and Otago.
MBIE has appointed Venture Taranaki as the pilot area lead for Taranaki. Grants of up to $20,000 were available, which are intended to partially fund a project.
As part of the Government’s National Plan for Science in Society, MBIE has funded a
‘Curious Minds’ initiative where young people, communities and scientists collaborate on
a science project. The project was launched in 2015, and Taranaki was one of the pilot
regions given funding. The pilot has been extended with additional funding to the end of
The South Taranaki Underwater Club was successful in both funding rounds, and applied
for funding to survey a target reef off Patea at depth of approximately 23metres – with
the aim of finding out ‘what makes the subtidal reefs of South Taranaki unique’. The
aim is to continue the study over many years.
The Project Partners include local Iwi – Te Kaahui o Rauru and Te Runanga o Ngati
Ruanui Trust, as well as the Hawera High School and Patea Area School.
The Project uses considerable voluntary time and boat use from South Taranaki
Underwater Club members.
Coverage and Connections
OF PROJECT REEF LIFE.
‘A South Taranaki Reef Project’ on Facebook shows some of the photographs and videos
taken to date – jewel anemone, carpet shark, fish, nudibranch, starfish, kina, sponges,
eels, crayfish, sea cucumbers and even a visiting Australian Magpie Perch! As at March
2017 over 25,500 video views on the Facebook page alone (as at March 2017).
The Daily News covered the Project back in June 20, with the 31 second video put
together by the Reef Project gathering over 37,000 views.
The Daily News also covered the in-situ camera built by Leith Robertson, an electrical
engineer with Wells Engineering in New Plymouth (June 23 2016).
The Wanganui Chronicle gave front page profile to the Reef Project back in September
Project members have presented to all students at the Hawera Primary School,
Kakaramea Primary School, Hawera Intermediate School, Mokoia School, Tawhiti Primary
School & Patea Area School to show photographs & video of the diversity of life at the
The Project has taken a number of sponge samples and sent them through to NIWA for
identification. About 15 species of sponge have been identified at the Project Reef.
NIWA has a number of identification guides which the Reef Project have found very
beneficial. Familiarity with the sponge guide led one of the Project Leads to notify NIWA of
a sponge found on the local beach of Ohawe, which could not be found in the guide. It
appears this is a new species, and the sponge has been donated to NIWA for scientific study
and full analysis.
BEHIND THE PROJECT.
Two marine scientists are involved with the Project. Thomas McElroy with a Masters in
Marine Conservation who works with TRC. Joshua Richardson who has a Masters in
Four survey approaches are used plus some additional general observation work. Part
of the ‘benthic survey’ work, has resulted in the Hawera High School students developing
a ‘Species ID guide’.
a. An in-situ underwater camera survey, with a camera fixed to a mooring and the
image data analysed. Hawera High School students will assist in entering data
into iNaturalist – a public database.
b. Surveys of the density of organisms living on the reef – ‘benthic survey’
c. Hook and line surveys conducted by Hawera High School students and Patea
Area School students.
d. An acoustic survey using a hydrophone.
The ‘benthic survey’ involves a diver transect method, with the diver capturing images of
0.5m2 quadrats randomly situated around the reef. The random allocation of quadrats is
achieved through a ‘random coordinate system’ with one coordinate corresponding to a
bearing and the other coordinate corresponding to the distance along the transect line. The
survey will be replicated during the year, in an effort to capture seasonal variation in the
Early stage analysis (March 2017) of the hydrophone deployed at the Project Reef has
identified a humpback whale call and the ‘thunder’ of an aftershock from the large earthquake
that struck Kaikoura in November. The objective of the acoustic survey is to assess the
acoustic diversity at the Project Reef.
WITH A WIDER AUDIENCE.
The Reef Project presented at Tauranga Ika Marae in 2016. Te Kaahui o Rauru is one of the
An evening presentation showing photographs has been made to the local Altrusa club in
There was a display about the Reef Project at the Patea Area School’s Matariki day event
on the 22 June 2016.
The Aotea Utanganui – Museum in Patea, has had the South Taranaki Reef Life Project
photographs, videos and marine samples on stunning display for four months – December
2016 to March 2017. Feedback has been incredibly positive.
10 March 2017 both the Hawera High School, Patea Area School, marine scientists, insitu
camera engineer and Project Leads, shared the Reef Project results with invited
community members at a Workshop event held in the Museum at Patea - Aotea
To date (March 17) 64 species have been identified at the Project Reef, and uploaded to a
national database ‘NatureWatch NZ’. There are still more to be uploaded from a recent
REGARDING PROJECT REEF LIFE.
Back in 2006 a DOC report identified from a community consultation process gaps in
knowledge and information about the South Taranaki marine area – see their report
‘Netting Coastal Knowledge’. This Project is helping to fill that gap.
The South Taranaki Underwater Club has been successful in a 2016 TSB Community
Trust funding round, so that a camera with adequate lighting can take video and
photographs of the Reef.
The Reef Project is hoping to work collaboratively with other groups to develop a GIS
database – which will help in sharing results as well as providing a useful tool for any future
The Project has joined a larger group ‘Wild for Taranaki’ which consists of about 27 groups
involved in conservation work.
Armed with a greater wealth of knowledge the South Taranaki Underwater Club are working
with the Taranaki Regional Council, to have the Project Reef recognised as having
outstanding value in their Coastal Plan, which is presently under review (March 2017).
We are so proud to have won the a Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Award
Here’s to an even more enlightening future.