Divers with a passion for history and exploring historic shipwrecks will have the opportunity to hone their underwater archaeological survey skills in a two-day workshop to be held in Whitianga early next year.
The citizen science project Gathering Information via Recreational and Technical (GIRT) Scientific Divers is being led by maritime archaeologist and conservator Dr Andy Viduka with support from Mercury Bay Museum, HMS Buffalo Re-examination Project, Dive Zone, Whitianga and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.
Full training in GIRT methodology will be given including improving people's understanding of the condition of underwater cultural heritage sites and the factors that drive their preservation or deterioration. Participants will also be encouraged to have an active and positive public archaeology role.
Day two of the workshop will involve a "fins-on" practical session that will focus on the wreck of HMS Buffalo, which lies in the shallows off Mercury Bay.
"GIRT is a no-impact public archaeology programme for people who want to dive with a purpose and who are passionate about shipwrecks and other underwater cultural heritage," says Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Mid-Northern archaeologist Dr Kurt Bennett, who is co-director of the HMS Buffalo Re-examination Project.
"GIRT members 'adopt' a wreck and agree to monitor the site perodically using GIRT methodology and share their data with the public to inform everyone about the condition of the wreck."
The Whitianga workshop – which will take place on February 18-19 – is being publicised early so that participants can register in good time.