In what could be mistaken for the lead-in to a sci-fi movie, Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Village is set to host another important scientific workshop - this time looking into the analysis of ion beams.

From October 26 to 28, 20 scientists from around the world will meet at the village's science centre, set up in partnership with GNS Science, to discuss ion beam analysis, an advanced analytical technique for measuring elements and imaging atomic structures.

Principal scientist and project leader, Dr Andreas Markwitz of GNS Science in Wellington, said ion beam analysis was also used to analyse environmental samples, rocks and biological specimens.

"Staff at GNS Science use this versatile technique on a daily basis to improve understanding of new-age materials that they make in their laboratory.

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"The technique makes use of New Zealand's only particle accelerator based in Lower Hutt."

He said experts from New Zealand and around the world will discuss new developments of the technique along with new applications and commercial opportunities.

Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust chairman James Warbrick with an air sampling cartridge, along with village chief executive Blair Millar (back, right) and senior guide Ringahora Huata.
Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust chairman James Warbrick with an air sampling cartridge, along with village chief executive Blair Millar (back, right) and senior guide Ringahora Huata.

"Application areas are nearly unlimited with opportunities in primary industries, sediments, soils and wood, to biology and medicine."

Whakarewarewa Village chief executive Blair Millar said since November 2014 the village had been involved with GNS exploring air quality issues and the implications of polluted air.

He said the workshop tied in well with the village's air pollution work because it had been taking air samples and sending them to GNS in Wellington for a few years.

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"This is of particular importance for the villagers whose health may be affected by polluted air and the way geochemistry from spring emissions is altering the chemistry of the particles."

Te Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust chairman James Warbrick said the project was also important in terms of education and a link to the past for the people of the village.

He said the research provided a scientific link to the past - the Tarawera eruption - and it was important to let the rest of the world know what the partnership meant for both organisations.

"We want to be able to educate, not only the people who live here, but the wider community."

Senior guide Ringahora Huata said village staff used the science centre to bring the often overwhelming world of science to the level of the everyday person and found the work fascinating.

"I'm sure our tupuna [ancestors] would be proud of the work going on here. The information they have gathered has looked back from generation to generation and brings matauranga Maori [ancient knowledge] into the scientific world."