A Waiariki iwi collective is working with five national research institutes to develop a $20 million multi-year funding agreement with the Government to grow the aquaculture industry in the region.
In a virtual signing this morning, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was entered into by Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki, Plant & Food Research, Cawthron Institute, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the universities of Otago and Waikato.
The purpose of the MOU was to enable better collaboration, data sharing and funding to explore potential marine, science and technology business opportunities.
Bay of Plenty Iwi Aquaculture project leader, Chris Karamea Insley, said he was pleased by the level of enthusiasm and commitment shown by the five research institutes.
"With this MOU, we acknowledge the joint mission of improving and growing aquaculture opportunities in the Bay of Plenty.
"Research institutes and iwi committing to working collaboratively on this iwi-led kaupapa is significant for Māori, our region and New Zealand as a whole.
"We also acknowledge we have a better chance of securing significant Crown funding by working collaboratively towards our shared goals, which includes sharing available data and knowledge."
Insley said securing a $10-20m multi-year funding agreement with the government would allow the parties in the MOU to work towards building a truly sustainable aquaculture industry in the Waiariki region.
Plant and Food Research General Manager Science – Seafood Technologies, Helen Mussely, said the MOU represented a crucial first step towards these organisations working together for a common purpose - realising the potential of aquaculture for Ngā Iwi i te Rohe o Te Waiariki.
"Plant and Food Research welcomes the opportunity to be involved in such an exciting and future-focused initiative and is looking forward to playing its role in the mahi ahead."
University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), Professor Richard Blaikie, said the signing was an important step forward for its Department of Food Science.
"We have had a longstanding relationship with Te Arawa, and this agreement was a great opportunity for us to continue that great work with Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki."
University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Bryony James, said the university valued its relationship with Te Arawa, and all the partners of this MOU.
Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Volker Kuntzsch said there was no better time for science and industry to come together.
"We are facing a lot of challenges but equally there are a lot of opportunities and I am thankful for Chris bringing us together.
"I believe we will be able to set an example for the rest of Aotearoa of what industry and science collaboration can look like and achieve."
NIWA chief executive John Morgan says the MOU presented an exciting opportunity to partner with Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki.
"NIWA brings aquaculture, marine, fisheries and coastal science expertise to support iwi aspirations of building a sustainable world-class marine and aquaculture industry in the Waiariki region."