2017 Deep South Challenge Symposium

Sir Mark Solomon

In early September, over 200 climate change researchers and representatives of the public and private sectors came together at Wellington’s Wharewaka for our inaugural symposium.

Minister for Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith opened our symposium on the Monday morning, taking time out of his jam-packed campaign diary to mark the significance of climate change for the future of New Zealand’s economy and society.

Sea level rise, drought and more extreme weather are just some of the physical impacts of climate change New Zealand can expect in our immediate and longer-term future. The implications of climate change range from whether we can continue to live and work in our current dwellings, to whether we’ll still be able to secure or afford insurance, to how we might future-proof industry and infrastructure to make sure these function properly in a changing climate.

Scientists and researchers, iwi, industry and decision makers in local and central government are all engaged with the challenge of making sure climate change is properly factored in to planning and risk management. The Deep South Challenge, in bringing together scientists and decision makers from many parts of society, aims to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk and thrive in the face of these coming changes.

Iain White, professor of environmental planning at University of Waikato, gave an entertaining keynote challenging participants to think differently about decision making in the face of climate change. He urged the audience to both grapple with and embrace uncertainty, noting that old planning models based around the concept of “predict and provide” may no longer be up to the task. “We can’t expect to fix or solve the climate,” he noted. “We don’t want to make the same mistakes more efficiently.”

Sir Mark Solomon of Ngai Tahu gave a keynote weaving together a whānau narrative on the changing climate in Te Waipounamu with an indication of future iwi strategy, outlining the dialogue about robust adaptation that’s beginning to emerge across all levels of Māori society. With 60 percent of all iwi investments in primary industries, climate change poses both great risks and significant opportunities. In response to questions about how to bring whānau and hapū along the path of climate adaptation, Sir Mark noted, “He aha te kai o te rangatira? He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero.” (What nourishes a leader? Talking, talking and more talking.)

The symposium helped us strengthen the relationships between our work programmes. For us, closing the loop between science and society involves linking observations of climate-related processes (both in Antarctica and in New Zealand), with the climate models we’re developing and refining, with climate adaptation work that’s happening at the “flax roots”. In everything we do, we’re trying to make sure our research is useful for and used by the community – in other words, we want to make sure our science affects real change.

The symposium also ignited strong thinking about how climate action can best be effected, and there were calls from both the research and broader communities to strengthen inter-Challenge collaboration – for example, finding common research ground between the Deep South Challenge and the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, Our Land and Water or Sustainable Seas challenges.

We'll have more follow-up from our symposium in the coming weeks and months, particularly in relation to our strategic direction as we approach 2019 – the point at which we hope to secure a further five years’ of MBIE funding.

In the meantime, browse through some of our presentations below, listen to the podcasts of our three keynotes, or have a look at the image gallery to get a feel for what happened. Hope to see you at our next Symposium!

Our symposium provided a rare opportunity for whakawhanaungatanga - for building relationships and strengthening collaborations within the Deep South Challenge and between our researchers and members of the public and private sectors. Browse through a brief selection of photos here.

Photo gallery

Conference presentations

The conference presentations are available to view or download below. They're listed in the order they were given. The conference programme is listed first to guide you if you're searching for a particular presentation.

Presentations: Monday 4 September

Presentations: Tuesday 5 September 9.30-11am

Presentations: Tuesday 5 September 11.30am-1pm

Presentations: Tuesday 5 September 2-3.30pm

Presentations: Wednesday 6 September 9-10.30am

Presentations: Wednesday 6 September 11am-12.30pm

Presentations: Wednesday 6 September 3.30-4.30pm

Latest news and updates

portrait of Adrian McDonald

"These models are good. They have real predictive power." Q&A with departing P&O lead, Adrian McDonald

Today we announce that our Processes & Observations programme lead, Adrian McDonald, is stepping down from our Science Leadership Team. We thank him for his calm and warm leadership over the last two and a half years. In this Q&A (taken from our recently published magazine Kia Urutau | Adapt), we asked Adrian about the role of climate modelling in supporting good adaptation in Aotearoa New Zealand.

double page opening spread of magazine article

The Living Net: Kai in a Changing Climate

I MEET PETER INSLEY on a low promontory that rests above the Hāparapara River. Kids have built a rickety jumping platform in the pūriri and mānuka above us, but the water below – blue and glistening – looks treacherous. It’s hard to gauge the depth or see the snags. The river has always behaved like this. It beelines out of the hills and hits this hard rock, pooling and gathering before sweeping off again towards Omaio Bay in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Paul Robinson on the border between the Hutt River and his Port Road property

Port Road: Climate risks at our urban edges

IT’S A CALM SUNDAY morning as I arrive at the home of Wellington property investor Paul Robinson, in the thriving beachside community of Plimmerton. Armed with muffins from the local café, I’m greeted by Paul’s friendly border collie Harry, who herds me into a stunning, carefully designed house.