Research Aim 4 Progress Updates

  • Estuary survey data, previously collected by councils using the Estuary Monitoring Protocol (EMP), was obtained from all regional councils and unitary authorities in New Zealand. This includes data from over 70 estuaries, from all parts of New Zealand, from surveys done from 2001 to 2016. Overall, there are over 500 datasets for different survey events.
  • We completed a major exercise of merging and cleaning these datasets into one combined NZ EMP dataset. This involved detailed analysis of definitions of each parameter and of taxonomic practices, e.g. making sure that every species or genus was named and reported in the same way across all of the individual datasets so that they could be merged.
  • Using the EMP dataset, we have calculated initial estimations of estuarine indicators (e.g. AMBI, NZ-AMBI, BQI, BENTIX, BOPA, MAMBI, TBI) and assessed these against environmental stressor gradients. We are now refining the combined dataset to improve estimates. This includes making some difficult choices about excluding some data that is not reported at the same level of detail as other datasets.
  • We have published a paper that used a benthic health model to show that metal contamination in Tauranga Harbour is having observable effects on benthic ecology even though contaminants are below guideline thresholds. (Tremblay L, Clark D, Sinner J, Ellis J. (2017). Integration of community structure data reveals observable effects below sediment guideline thresholds in a large estuary. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.)
  • A paper on assessment of indicators using the EMP dataset is being prepared for submission to an international peer-reviewed journal.

The Oranga Taiao Oranga Tangata Project is builds on the work undertaken in MTM, and will develop toolsets that assist Iwi and Hapu with co-management of Estuaries.  By restoring the health of the Estuarine Environment, we also enhance health of the People.