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Ngā Mahi Ngātahi IRANZ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Programme ▼
IRANZ news briefs ▼
Speaker’s Science Forum - Science for Sustainable Fisheries ▼
Xerra: New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winner ▼
Dragonfly Data Science: Students visualise bird data ▼
Cawthron research finds algal blooms threaten shellfish health ▼
Aqualinc: Disentangling the water reforms ▼
WSP: New study measures harmful cost of nitrate in drinking water ▼
Lincoln Agritech: Groundbreaking research explains braided rivers ▼
Te Tira Whakamātaki on Disaster Risk Reduction ▼
Mātai: Solving the concussion puzzle ▼
MRINZ: How big were Kiwis' bubbles? ▼
Malaghan: CAR T-cell therapy to target solid tumours ▼
PlantTech: Putting the numbers on apples ▼
Vintage 2022: harvesting for Bragato viticulture research trials ▼
Motu: Pathways through education to successful work for Māori students ▼
BRANZ: COVID-19 impacts on new-build homeowners ▼
HERA: Corrosion maps for macro-climate corrosion classification ▼
Malaghan: Homegrown COVID-19 booster possible ▼
Malaghan: Clinical study shows strong immune response across NZ ▼
MRINZ: Asthma study offers world-first results on 2-in-1 ‘rescue’ inhaler ▼
Cawthron and Ngāti Koata launch lake virtual experience ▼
Cawthron: Vision Mātauranga Capability Funding to monitor lake toxins ▼
WSP: Of freshwater fish and fluid dynamics ▼
WSP: Congestion charges ▼
Lincoln Agritech: Waterjet weeder promises less herbicide use ▼
Lincoln Agritech: Eyes in the sky help inform land management decisions ▼
Xerra: Starboard demos live satellite surveillance op in the Tasman Sea ▼
PlantTech: Turning a corner to new opportunities ▼
Bragato: Burrowing into the behaviour of ground wētā ▼
Motu: Best approach to immigration policy for productivity & wellbeing ▼
Multimedia: Podcasts, radio, tv, video, and more from our members ▼
Follow us on social media ▼

Ngā Mahi Ngātahi IRANZ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Programme

Hāpaitia te ara tika kia pūmau ai te rangatiratanga mō ngā uri whakatupu, Mā ngā hononga e whakareii te mana o ngā rōpū te hunga Māori me IRANZ - ‘Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence, and growth for future generations through partnerships that enhance the mana of Māori and IRANZ’.

Last year, MBIE issued a request for proposals for its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Capability Fund. The Fund seeks to support research organisations to identify and break down barriers to attracting, retaining, and growing an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce. The Fund aims to promote best EDI practice across Aotearoa New Zealand to ensure our research sector includes different perspectives reflecting our diverse population.

An IRANZ project to enable Independent Research Organisations to build stronger connections and partnerships with Māori has been accepted. The Project ‘Ngā Mahi Ngātahi’ will be led by Anaru Luke, head of Māori Business Development & Research at Cawthron Institute, supported by Professor Paora Tapsell of Takarangi Research, and will involve all 23 IRANZ members.


group of diverse people
IRANZ news briefs
  • The Hon. Judith Collins visits IRANZ
  • TTW: Māori Biosecurity Symposium first of its kind
  • MRINZ receives Independent Research Funding from HRC
  • Malaghan: Dr Kerry Hilligan awarded HRC Emerging Researcher First Grant
  • Motu: Applications are open for Āheitanga Thesis Scholarship
  • Mātai: London conference and US visit
  • Bragato: Grape Days 2022 - Winegrowing in a Changing Environment
  • Dragonfly Data Science: Wellington stopover for Cambridge-bound student
  • Cawthron: Nelson students become time-travelling lake detectives
  • Aqualinc: effluent pond leak testing
  • . . . and more.

Follow the link for more details on the June 2022 news briefs from our Independent Research Organisations.


IRANZ and Judith Collins
From left, TTW CEO Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, WSP Research (NZ) CEO Wendy Turvey, the Hon Judith Collins, Motu CEO John McDermott, IRANZ Executive Office Rob Whitney, and MRINZ early career researcher, Georgina Bird. Photo: Rebecca Alo.
Chris Cornelisen at Speaker's Science Forum
Dr Chris Cornelisen, Chief Science Capability Officer at the Cawthron Institute, delivers his talk at Parliament. Photo: Royal Society Te Apārangi.
Speaker’s Science Forum - Science for Sustainable Fisheries

The Speaker’s Science Forum series, supported by IRANZ, Science New Zealand, Universities New Zealand, and the Royal Society Te Apārangi, has now resumed, the first for 2022 was held earlier this month at Parliament. The central focus of the forum was how science can improve the sustainability of fisheries in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Associate Professor Maren Wellenreuther, University of Auckland, discussed the potential of DNA technology to help us understand more about past and present fish stocks, while Dr Chris Cornelisen, Cawthron Institute, provided a broad overview of sustainability challenges facing fisheries in Aotearoa New Zealand. Both speakers emphasised the importance of new technologies to support ecosystem-focused fisheries management and the overall health of our oceans/moana.


Xerra: New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winner

Biosecurity Minister the Hon. Damien O’Connor recently announced this year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards winners, saying their skills, dedication and knowledge underpin Aotearoa’s world-leading biosecurity system – a fundamental aspect to New Zealand’s economic strength.

Maritime intelligence project 'Starboard' from the Xerra Earth Observation Institute is the New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winner. The Starboard tool uses data and analytics to assess the biosecurity risk of every vessel entering New Zealand waters.

“The Xerra team realised that the risk of a vessel bringing unwanted organisms to Aotearoa is strongly related to its past journey track and characteristics of travel. They have built a multidisciplinary team of environmental, remote sensing and data scientists, software engineers and product designers to deliver a game-changing system for marine biosecurity,” says Damien O’Connor said.


Starboard Marine Intelligence display
The Starboard Marine Intelligence system helps nations tackle complex maritime challenges, ranging from risk assessing arriving vessels to detecting illegal fishing and uncovering non-reporting dark vessels.
Dragonfly Data Science: Students visualise bird data

The numbers of seabirds found dead on beaches across the country is a large collection of records managed by Birds New Zealand. It proved to be an interesting dataset for user experience design students from Victoria University of Wellington to try out the skills they’ve been learning.

The data has been collected over decades by volunteers who walk stretches of a beach searching the high tide mark to record any dead birds they find. While prions are the most commonly found species – usually in ones and twos – ‘wrecks’ of hundreds of birds have also been recorded after large storms.

Dragonfly has been involved in creating an online database for the beach patrol data, and streamlining data entry for the volunteers.


Image: Dragonfly Data Science.
Cawthron research finds algal blooms threaten shellfish health

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a known and well-managed risk to food safety and human health, with extensive monitoring and mitigation measures in place. However, new Cawthron Institute research has revealed that the health of shellfish that ingest or come into contact with the algae can be negatively affected, with implications for the shellfish aquaculture industry.

In a recently published paper in ‘Toxins’, Cawthron researchers examined HAB species known to bloom globally and in New Zealand and their effects on commercially important shellfish and fish species. Their findings include the effects of Alexandrium pacificum exposure on juvenile flat oysters and Greenshell mussels, which include paralysis and reduced byssal pad formation, leading to increased shellfish death.


Harmful Algal Bloom
Drone image of a Harmful Algal Bloom in Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Cawthron Institute.
Photo: Aqualinc Research.
Aqualinc: Disentangling the water reforms

There have been several new words, names, and phrases added to water-related vocabulary recently - Freshwater Reforms, Taumata Arowai, Te Mana o te Wai — to name a few.

Aqualinc researcher Matt Bubb writes that there has been a lot going on at central government in the water space. "The speed of what’s been happening, together with new vocabulary, has led to some confusion." Matt provides clarity around the changes.

There are three aspects to recent reforms. These are: the proposed Three Waters Reforms, the Water Services Act, and the Freshwater Reforms. These three are linked to some extent, but the core issues are separate.

The proposed Three Waters Reforms relates to local authority infrastructure for drinking water supply, stormwater, and wastewater.


WSP: New study measures harmful cost of nitrate in drinking water

A new study from WSP and University of Otago has found that if nitrate concentrations in groundwater increase beyond current levels, Christchurch City and Waimakariri Districts could see more cases of colorectal cancer and premature births. The health treatment costs alone would run into the tens of millions of dollars. Treating the water to remove nitrate would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The nitrate limit in Aotearoa New Zealand’s drinking water standards is set at 11.3 mg/L to prevent blue baby syndrome. But in the past decade, international studies have observed exposure to nitrate levels as low as 1 mg/L increasing the risk of colorectal cancer. The risk of premature births increases from 5 mg/L.


Waimakariri River
Much of the Waimakariri District is a major recharge area for Christchurch’s aquifers. Photo: WSP.
Lincoln Agritech: Groundbreaking research explains braided rivers

New Zealand’s braided rivers dominate our east coast environments. But how do they affect the amount of water that’s in our aquifers, and available for human activity and nature? And how do we find out?

Until recently, no one knew how they worked beneath the surface and interacted with our aquifers. But with a lot of technology and perseverance we are now beginning to find the answers.

Lincoln Agritech’s Scott Wilson is leading a five-year project, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment to find out just how braided rivers and regional aquifers interact, to store and transport water.


Discussing braided rivers
Mathias Vang (right) of Denmark’s Aarhaus University discusses the APSU surface nuclear magnetic resonance system with (from left) Lincoln Agritech’s Blair Miller, Shaun Kingsbury, and Scott Wilson. Photo: Lincoln Agritech.
Te Tira Whakamātaki on Disaster Risk Reduction

In late May, a team of researchers and students from Te Tira Whakamātaki attended the Seventh Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2022) in Bali, Indonesia, hosted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. The global forum shares knowledge and discusses the latest developments and trends in reducing disaster risk.

At the session the team from TTW launched the International Campaign for Disaster Risk Reduction in Indigenous Communities, a three-year UN endorsed campaign designed to reduce risk from disasters in Indigenous communities and integrate Indigenous experiences in ongoing DRR dialogues.


TTW team at GP2022
From left, TTW Co-founder, Trustee and CEO Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, Hon Ron Mark, Assoc Professor Simon Lambert, Rodolfo Romario Magzul (Guatemala), Marcus-Rongowhitiao Shadbolt, and Phoebe Fordyce at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2022) in Bali, Indonesia. Photo TTW.
Mātai: Solving the concussion puzzle

The Mātai Medical Research Institute’s first major mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI/concussion) study began last year with support from the Gisborne Boys High School First XV and Second XV rugby teams, to help the institute monitor and understand any changes in the brain from injury.

The research involves brain scans at Mātai, using some of the world’s most advanced brain imaging technology in partnership with GE (General Electric) Healthcare; HITIQ high-tech mouthguards to monitor head impacts; eye-movement monitoring; small-RNA analysis by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR); and advanced biomechanical modelling by a team at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) and others.

The research recently featured as a lead article in the Gisborne Herald.


Matai MRI scan
One of the Gisborne Boys High players undergoes an MRI scan on a 3T GE Premier system at Mātai. Photo: Mātai.
MRINZ: How big were Kiwis' bubbles?

The talented Dr Ciléin Kearns at MRINZ, working with the rest of the research study team has created an entertaining and informative comic about their recently published research on the characteristics of self-isolating household units (‘bubbles’) during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 period in New Zealand. The research has been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Open. The comic summary was created to help make the results more accessible, as a huge number of people took part in the study.

Almost 15 thousand surveys from across the country were included in the analysis. On average, New Zealand bubble sizes were small (three to four people), mostly limited to one household, and a high proportion (almost half) contained essential workers and/or vulnerable people. Understanding these characteristics from a country which achieved a low COVID-19 infection rate may help inform public health interventions during this and future pandemics.


MRINZ bubble study comic
How researchers imagine the peer review board. Illustration: Dr Ciléin Kearns, MRINZ.
CAR T-cells
CAR T-cells. Image: Malaghan Institute.
Malaghan: CAR T-cell therapy to target solid tumours

The Malaghan Institute reports that CAR T-cells are changing the game in how we fight previously untreatable blood cancers. However, much still stands in the way of CAR T-cell therapy becoming an effective treatment option for all cancer types, particularly in solid tumours like lung or breast cancer. Researchers at the Malaghan Institute are working hard to find solutions to apply CAR T-cell technology to a broader range of cancers.

Dr Rachel Perret leads the Malaghan Institute's Freemasons CAR T-cell Research Programme team to improve the CAR T-cells’ ability to find and target cancer.

“We’re trying to design a dual CAR system where we’ll make T-cells that can target two different cancer proteins instead of one,” says Dr Perret. “That way, we can guard against cancers losing a single protein and becoming ‘invisible’ to the immune response.”


PlantTech: Putting the numbers on apples

A digital apple crop estimation project in Hawke’s Bay aims to provide the information to help businesses with logistics and planning.

Work has started on a digital apple crop estimation project working with Envy, JAZZ, and Rockit apple varieties. The initial project will assess how effective image-based tools can be in the orchard to eventually provide robust information to growers, orchard managers and packhouses.

Research scientist and project lead Henry Kirkwood says the first stage, expected to last six months, will allow them to understand and define challenges that can be addressed with digital crop estimation, and then design experiments to test the hypotheses.


apples ready to count
An orchard set for depth imaging, extracting size, weight, and blush from imagery. Machine readable codes are used to assist in large scale data collection for associating image features with measurements, such as diameter or weight, taken with other more traditional means. Photo: PlantTech.
Irene picking grapes
Irene Tozzi harvests grapes for research into the use of remedial surgery as a management tool for grapevine trunk disease. This year, they are assessing the effect of remedial surgery on wine quality. Photo: Bragato Research Institute.
Vintage 2022: harvesting for Bragato viticulture research trials

Vintage 2022 for BRI’s viticulture extension team meant harvesting fruit from trials across multiple vineyards, taking the next step in research which covers the entire cycle from viticulture to finished wine.

Trial harvests were for both commercial clients and levy-funded research initiatives, including remedial surgery for grapevine trunk disease, a comparison of long spur with four-cane pruning, and the influence on foliar applied fertiliser on vine recovery after frost.

Harvesting for BRI researchers is slow, detailed work. It means handpicking each vine, keeping grapes separate so bunches can be counted, the production of each vine weighed, and sometimes berries individually counted and assessed for disease.


Motu: Effective pathways through education to work for Māori students

A team at Motu, led by Isabelle Sin, recently published a literature review to provide background for a forthcoming empirical investigation of the pathways through education that lead to successful labour market outcomes for Māori students with different aptitudes in high school.

The paper summarises three main areas of existing literature: the pathways students can take through the Aotearoa New Zealand education system, this includes summary statistics on the proportion of students who pursue each pathway and the differences in these by ethnicity and gender; the relationship between higher education and labour market outcomes internationally, in Aotearoa, and for Māori in Aotearoa specifically - the paper also highlights non-financial potential benefits that may motivate students to pursue higher education; and lastly, the value in the labour market of Māori-medium education and te reo-English bilingualism.


BRANZ: COVID-19 impacts on new-build homeowners

A BRANZ survey looked at the impact COVID-19 has had on the satisfaction of new house owners since the first lockdown in early 2020 through to the end of 2021.

In 2020, the impact of COVID-19 according to new house owners was significant. Over half of the respondents (55%) reported that COVID-19 had a moderate to major impact on their build.

The impacts could include months of delays, with issues including supply/material constraints, unspecified delay and other COVID-related delays having a major impact on a high proportion of builds. Other issues included council delays and cost increases. Many of the 2020 respondents described the impact on their build as related to the 4–6-week Level 4 lockdown in early 2020.

The BRANZ New House Owners’ Satisfaction Survey has been running for over a decade and is one of the few datasets available that measures the performance of residential builders.


Photo: BRANZ build magazine.
HERA: Corrosion maps for macro-climate corrosion classification

HERA have recently launched an online corrosivity map to enable users to search by address to determine a recommended corrosion classification for their project.

HERA's Manager Structural Systems, Kaveh Andisheh, says the original paper-based maps did not provide corrosion classification within 500m of the coastlines, which meant designers needed to use additional table data to determine macro-climate classification, making the process laborious and time consuming for an engineer as it required them to determine relative distances to saltwater, whether the areas was considered calm or had breaking surf, along with coastal aspects and prevailing winds.

"Getting this right is crucial, as the durability of a steel structure has a direct link to the life span of the structure. If we are able to assist in increasing the lifespan of steel structures, it in turn, increases the sustainability of steel structures for future generations."


Corrosion on a bridge
Malaghan: Homegrown COVID-19 booster possible

A homegrown COVID-19 booster vaccine could protect our population against future waves and variants of COVID-19. But more than that, developing the capability to make our own vaccines is establishing an independent pipeline for Aotearoa New Zealand’s future biomedical endeavours says Malaghan Institute Director Professor Graham Le Gros.

“We've got some of the greatest scientists in the world. We've some really advanced technology and insight. I believe we have some cutting-edge vaccine candidates that could be of major benefit in minimising COVID-19 and all its variants to come,” say Prof. Le Gros, who oversees Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huakete (VAANZ) as Programme Director.


Professor Graham Le Gros
“This independence from international pharmaceutical companies will set the stage for national research initiatives that can be driven to address specific health outcomes that are relevant to Aotearoa’s unique population,” says Prof Graham Le Gros. Photo: Malaghan Institute.
cherries on a tree
“Antibody responses overall were robust and consistent with international data, and reassuringly were not related to ethnicity, gender, or to overweight/obesity,” says Dr Priddy. Photo: Towfiqu Barbhuiya, Unsplash.
Malaghan: Clinical study shows strong immune response across NZ

A clinical study investigating immune responses to the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealanders at risk for COVID-19 disease has provided reassuring results says Dr Fran Priddy, the Executive Director of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo (VAANZ).

The study, Ka Mātau, Ka Ora (from knowledge comes wellbeing) – the largest evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine immune responses in Māori and Pasifika – showed near universal strong immune responses in New Zealand vaccine recipients, after two doses.

“The results are reassuring given the study represented some of those New Zealanders most at risk for COVID disease – older adults, Māori, Pacific peoples, and those with co-morbidities like diabetes, obesity or heart disease,” says Dr Priddy.


MRINZ: Asthma study offers world-first results on 2-in-1 ‘rescue’ inhaler

A fixed-dose 2-in-1 combination of salbutamol and budesonide, used as an as-needed rescue medicine, has been shown for the first time to significantly reduce the risk of severe asthma attacks.

In the MANDALA trial, patients using the investigational AstraZeneca and Avillion product PT027, which combines salbutamol (marketed as albuterol within the U.S.) with budesonide, were 26% less likely to experience severe asthma attacks than those using albuterol alone.

These findings were reported by lead author Professor Alberto Papi, of the University of Ferrara in Italy, and colleagues, including Professor Richard Beasley, director of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ), published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sunday 15 May, and presented this week at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2022 International Conference.


MRINZ Asthma Research
Photo: MRINZ.
VR lake experience launch
Aunty Mel McGregor and her grandson Te Ākau exploring the VR experience at the Virtual Reality Experience Launch in June 2022. Photo: Cawthron Institute.
Cawthron and Ngāti Koata launch lake virtual experience

Cawthron Institute researchers have supported Ngāti Koata of Te Tauihu in the development and launch of a cutting-edge virtual experience of Rangitoto ki te Tonga/D’Urville Island’s Lake Moawhitu.

The web-based tool presents four ‘virtual worlds’ of Moawhitu throughout history and intro the future, and aims to help Iwi members understand the lake’s cultural history, water quality issues, and restoration goals.

The tool is part of a much wider project to restore the ecological health of Lake Moawhitu involving Marlborough District Council and other community groups.


Cawthron: Vision Mātauranga Capability Funding to monitor lake toxins

The Whakakī Lake community near Wairoa treasure their mahinga kai, and in particular their tuna/eel population. However, a deterioration in lake health has resulted in cyanobacteria blooms that are poisoning the eels and threatening the health of people who eat them.

The Whakakī Lake Trust and the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre have received funding through MBIE’s Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund to implement community-led monitoring for cyanobacterial toxins (cyanotoxins) at Whakakī Lake and better understand the risks posed by the toxins in the lake.

The collaborative research team will include members of the Food Safety Centre and the Whakakī community, as well as Cawthron Institute’s Dr Tim Harwood, Dr Jonathan Puddick, and Dr Cath McLeod.


Photo: Louise Thomas.
WSP: Of freshwater fish and fluid dynamics

At first glance, Aotearoa New Zealand’s migratory freshwater fish and little-known 19th century scientists don’t have much in common. But, thanks to equations developed over 170 years ago, we’re learning more about how fish can better navigate our waterways.

Many of our native fish migrate to access habitats for feeding, reproducing, and to complete their lifecycles. Unfortunately, they’re often challenged by obstacles like weirs and culverts. These disrupt the natural flow of water and can prevent fish from getting where they need to be.

In a new piece of research, WSP Principal Stormwater Engineer Mark Groves, Ecologist Mark Hansen and Graduate Water Engineer Francesco Martin harnessed the power of computational fluid dynamics and 3D models to see how different river channel designs affect the flow of water.


The climbing galaxias (kōaro) - one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s migratory species of freshwater fish. Photo:
WSP: Implementing fair congestion charges

In a recently-released research report, Mahi a Rongo the Helen Clark Foundation and WSP in New Zealand are recommending how congestion charging can be implemented fairly in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Helen Clark Foundation / WSP report is the first of its kind in New Zealand that focuses on the equity impacts of congestion charging. Insights and recommendations from the report include:

  • City specific modelling shows that a congestion charge will meaningfully reduce traffic and emissions in Auckland and Wellington.

  • Equity concerns must be front and centre of any congestion charging scheme, robust community engagement should be undertaken, and alternatives like public transport should be improved before implementation.


traffic congestion
Photo: Meruyert Gonullu, Pexels.
Lincoln Agritech: Waterjet weeder promises less herbicide use

A new project investigating precision weeding in vineyards could prevent thousands of litres of herbicide use – and save water – across New Zealand’s viticulture and horticulture industries.

Six New Zealand vineyards are partnering with Lincoln Agritech and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund to trial high-pressure water weeding (also known as waterjet weeding).

The project will run over two years, with the first trial set for vineyards in Canterbury and Marlborough this winter, ahead of the main weed growing season in spring.

Between them, the six vineyards cover nearly 5000 ha. If the technology works as expected, it will take more than 50,000 litres of herbicide a year out of their weed management programmes.


Waterjet weeder
The Caffini Grasskiller in action at Waiata Vineyards. Photo: Lincoln Agritech.
Francelino Rodrigues
Dr Francelino Rodrigues, who joined Lincoln Agritech in July 2021, has been working with precision agriculture and remote sensing since his undergraduate days in Brazil. Photo: Lincoln Agritech.
Lincoln Agritech: Eyes in the sky help inform land management decisions

What if farmers could use satellite data to pinpoint exactly where fields were suffering from water or nutrient stress – and exactly how much water or nutrients they needed?

If drone imaging could reveal objectively which plants had desirable traits, and so speed up crop breeding programmes? Or if data from images could reveal the early symptoms and spread of crop diseases?

These possibilities are becoming realities, thanks to the science of remote sensing and its application by multidisciplinary teams across the primary sector. It’s a worldwide growth area, and Lincoln Agritech is growing its capability through Precision Agriculture 2IC Francelino Rodrigues.


Xerra: Starboard demos live satellite surveillance op in the Tasman Sea

Starboard Maritime Intelligence, MDA Ltd., and Unseenlabs successfully collaborated on a live demonstration of satellite surveillance technology at the Indo Pacific 2022 International Maritime Exposition held in Sydney last month.

The operation, dubbed “18c”, focused on uncovering illegal fishing for southern bluefin tuna and showed how technology can help both fisheries and intelligence analysts navigate increasingly rich and complex data.

“We know intelligence teams are excited about the possibilities of fusing data from multiple space-based sensors and using machine learning to support their work, but it can sometimes be hard to take that step into operationalising these opportunities,” says Heather Deacon, Business Development Manager for Starboard.


satellite overpasses
Satellite trajectory and sensor coverage from Unseenlabs (B4 and B5), MDA (R2), and real-time AIS (orbits in cyan). Image: Xerra.
PlantTech: Turning a corner to new opportunities

As an independent research organisation PlantTech has turned the traditional research model on its head.

“We differ from other research providers,” says Research Director Ian Yule. “We are much more closely aligned to industry, our research agenda is informed by industry, and our goal is to find answers to industry problems.”

Five years ago, New Zealand didn’t have a compelling answer to the challenge of delivering economic and societal benefit from its research base. The idea behind PlantTech was to create a research institute based on delivering high value crop systems using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Three years on the organisation has navigated its way to establish credibility and acceptance within the science system.


Ian Yule
Ian Yule, Research Director. Photo: PlantTech.
Bragato: Burrowing into the behaviour of ground wētā

Luring wētā away from the “buffet” of budburst is a potential outcome of research into the native insect munching Awatere Valley vines.

The project, project managed by the Bragato Research Institute, seeks to develop an environmentally and economically sustainable solution to the growing problem of ground wētā (Hemiandrus bilobatus) grazing tender foliage in spring.

“That’s a real challenge,” says Dr Jessica Vereijssen, a crop protection entomologist at Plant & Food Research, who is used to working with introduced pest species like the meadow spittle bug, a potential vector for Xyella fastidiosa. “With a lot of the horticultural pests we work with, the last option – if you can’t find a solution – is always to spray them with a pesticide. With the wētā, we have to make sure it stays alive and that we don’t affect it.”


Wētā. Photo: Louise Thomas.
Motu: Best approach to immigration policy for productivity and wellbeing

Who migrates to Aotearoa New Zealand and what skills do they bring? What impact do migrants have on our economy? How can we create an immigration system fit for the future? Immigration is complex in its causes and effects. It’s a major topic of public and policy debate, with migration re-emerging as a driver of population growth.

In a recent seminar on 16 June, the Productivity Commission presented its recent inquiry on immigration and its final recommendations to the New Zealand Government on what immigration policy settings would best help Aotearoa New Zealand’s long-term economic growth, productivity, and the wellbeing of New Zealanders. The seminar involved Motu's Dr Arthur Grimes, and a video of the seminar as well as the overheads used by the speakers are available on the Motu website.


hands-in team work
Image: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.
Multimedia: Podcasts, radio, tv, video, and more from our members

Check out the IRANZ multimedia page for more.


HERA Podcast: Ep. 70 - BRANZ

In this episode of Stirring the Pot HERA talks with BRANZ General Manager of Research, Chris Litten.

Tasked with challenging Aotearoa New Zealand to create a building system that delivers better outcomes for all, Chris and his team oversee a range of research projects in environment and zero-carbon, fire, healthy homes, materials, and structural and seismic engineering to make that a reality.

BRANZ: Reducing Carbon video series

Researchers at BRANZ have been working hard to develop tools and resources to support you on your carbon journey.

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IRANZ has gone social. For up-to-date information about the activities of our member organisations and same-day notification of updates to the website follow us on the link below.




IRANZ is an association of independent research organisations. Its members undertake scientific research, development or technology transfer. Members include Aqualinc Research Ltd, Bragato Research Institute, BRANZ, Cawthron Institute, Dragonfly Data Science, Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA), Land & Water Science, Leather & Shoe Research Association (LASRA), Lincoln Agritech Ltd, Mackie Research, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ), Mātai Medical Research, M.E Research, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand Brain Research Institute, New Zealand Institute of Minerals to Materials Research, PlantTech Research Institute, Takarangi Research Group, Te Tira Whakāmataki, Verum Group, WSP, and Xerra Earth Observation Institute.

Contact: Dr Rob Whitney, Executive Officer, mobile: +64 27 2921050, email:

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