13 April 2022
Centre manager Wendy Newport-Smith has co-ordinated a bid to MBIE’s Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund to help the Lake Whakakī community, near Wairoa, monitor and reduce toxins from cyanobacteria which are poisoning their highly valued tuna/eels, and potentially anyone who eats them. The team comprising Drs Tim Harwood and Jonathan Puddick (respectively aquatic toxins and cyanobacteria biochemistry specialists at Cawthron), Centre chief scientist Distinguished Professor Nigel French and Dr Catherine McLeod (formerly director of the Centre and now Cawthron Institute chief scientist) and project manager Wendy obtained $227,000 to fund the project.
In the spirit of the Fund, the project will be collaborative. The science team will work with Richard Brooking the Chair of the Lake Whakakī Trust, the Whakakī community, and local iwi (Ngāti Hinepua, Ngāti Hine and Ngai Teipu). A programme has already begun to measure bacteria and toxin levels, and to swap information and observations with the locals, who are set to become expert in cyanobacteria biology and techniques of water health monitoring.