2020-07: Risk Assessment & Ecosystem Impacts EOI


Please note applications have now closed, however late applications may be considered.


Tēnā koutou,

We are reaching out on behalf of the Ngā Rākau Taketake – Risk Assessment and Ecosystem Impacts theme of the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge seeking Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to participate in our work planning and research team.

Ngā Rākau Taketake is the programme within the Challenge to address myrtle rust and kauri dieback. Building on work from the Ngā Rākau Taketake scoping group and the kauri dieback and myrtle rust science strategies, we have been developing a draft three-year research plan (2020/21 – 2022/23) to understand the impacts of the diseases and perform risk assessments to support management and research priorities. Now we are refining the work plan and forming the team to achieve our goals.


About our research theme

Our overarching goal is to understand which species and ecosystems are most at risk and what the impacts of the diseases are, so we can prioritise efforts and inform better management decisions.

In this theme, standardised impact measures are being developed to quantify the impact both kauri dieback and myrtle rust are having on affected ecosystems. We take a holistic view of ecosystems, meaning the impact measures will also examine broader ecological impacts, including on associated flora and fauna, on ecosystem functions and on human cultural, social and economic relationships. We also take a holistic view of the threat, meaning we will consider the effects of both the pathogens themselves and the tools and systems used to manage them.

Our goal requires first characterising kauri and Myrtaceae ecosystems, establishing baselines against which to measure change, and prioritising key indicators for monitoring. Throughout this process, we will build on existing work and strengthen the collaboration between kaupapa Māori and Western science approaches to ensure indicators are relevant and meaningful across communities.

The impact measures will in turn inform a more comprehensive risk assessment for ecosystem impact, and identify where risk lies, both geographically and with regard to the nature and degree of impact. Ecosystem impact assessment is comprised of measures of ecosystem health and resilience, using an integrated Western science and Mātauranga Māori framework. 

Māori have long advocated for an ecosystem-level approach to kauri dieback and myrtle rust, and this workstream aims for a kaupapa Māori and ecosystem-level approach, focused at site-to-landscape scales.


Who we are looking for

Our aim is to look widely and build a team that captures a range of capabilities, perspectives and experiences, including providing opportunities for early career researchers and people from outside formal research organisations. In selecting our team, we will actively promote the principles for equity, diversity, access and inclusion and the values established by the wider Challenge.

Addressing the broad holistic view of ecosystem impacts and risk assessment that is set out in the draft work plan will require a breadth of skills and perspectives. In particular, it is essential that our work incorporate and bridge between kaupapa Māori and Western science approaches.

Finally, we aim to work collaboratively and put the work outcomes ahead of individuals or organisations. We welcome ideas and suggestions for research, but we are not seeking proposals. We are a team rather than a competitive funding source.


How you could be involved

Let us know if and how you would be interested in being involved—whether in guiding the research planning, actively participating in the mahi, or simply being kept informed of progress.

We will consider EOIs (form below) as they are returned to us, so please do not delay. However, as the work plan will be iterative, our team may evolve along with it, so please reach out at any time even after the deadline has passed.

After gathering expressions of interest, we will hold a series of short online hui/workshops to refine the work plan for each research area, set budget priorities and further inform team selection. These are tentatively scheduled for the week beginning 13 July. The research teams will be selected following the hui/workshops.

Please note that receiving an email invitation, submitting an EOI or participating in a planning workshop does not guarantee you will be selected for the team or receive funding.


Applications have now closed, however late applications may be considered. Please read the following document and email one of the co-leads (below) addressing:

  1. What you can contribute to this investment;
  2. Why you want to be involved;
  3. Any experience you have in intergrating mātauranga Māori and Western science;
  4. Which of the four draft research areas you would like to be involved in.

Simon Wegner, co-lead: simon.wegner@scionresearch.com

Luitgard Schwendenmann, co-lead: l.schwendenmann@auckland.ac.nz

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