A handful of leading Kiwi scientists and Wairarapa iwi representatives yesterday completed a three-day workshop at Kohunui Marae at Pirinoa that laid bare some of the geological and environmental histories of the region.

Co-ordinator Dr Chris Hollis, of GNS Science, said the hands-on workshop was an initiative involving Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated in Hawke's Bay, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and GNS Science.

"It follows similar marae-based learning events staged in Hawke's Bay in the past two years and will explore the connections between earth science and matauranga a iwi (traditional knowledge)."

Dr Hollis said eight GNS Science researchers would share "insights on their specialist areas" and discussion topics would include geological resources, sea-level and climate change, earthquakes, and the evolution of the Wairarapa landscape.


A mix of field trips and marae-based activities, Dr Hollis said, would "see iwi participants and scientists establish a deeper understanding of the issues that are important to iwi development and environmental sustainability, particularly in Wairarapa".

The group also included a cultural adviser, a Greater Wellington Regional Council representative and two Maori environmental consultants, he said.

On the opening day of the workshop on Wednesday, the group travelled to Lake Onoke to explore "the changing landscape" and geological history of the area, and on Thursday the workshop participants and researchers travelled to White Rock to gather samples of seafloor sediment for examination.

The workshop was to conclude yesterday after a field trip to explore the geological history of the Pinnacles and Kupe's Sail.

"Communities are increasingly faced with challenging questions regarding the use and management of natural resources. While science can provide important information to guide decisions, it can often be difficult to access or understand," Dr Hollis said.

"We have found the hands-on approach is an effective way of demystifying the science behind topics such as oil and gas exploration."