New Zealanders have heard a lot about the state of our waterways and water in recent months. With the 2017 General Election just around the corner, politicians, industry insiders, communities and researchers have clamoured to get their views and policy ideas into the public arena.

Clarity is needed to inform policy decisions 

While there is general agreement that our water is a precious resource, certain issues – such as how to protect it from pollution and the application of a tax for commercial users – have become contentious.

Dr Daniel Hikuroa, associate investigator at Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre of Research Excellence and an earth systems scientist who integrates mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) with science, says it’s time that we all gained some clarity on the issue so we can inform relevant policy.

“This means not only examining the scientific evidence, but finding out what water means to us as a people, our wairua and for Aotearoa,” says Dr Hikuroa.

“We want to explore people’s personal and professional relationships with water to highlight the importance of protecting and cherishing our waterways for health, social, economic, cultural and environmental reasons.”

Dr Hikuroa and prominent microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, deputy director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, are running WaiNZ – an online campaign from 11-15 September that aims to bring the role and state of water in Aotearoa New Zealand to the forefront of national consciousness.

Data infographics to underpin the conversation

The week-long conversation will provide New Zealanders with an opportunity to read blog posts and other media from key influencers who will talk about their relationships with water, while drawing on research data and a multitude of charts provided by Figure.NZ.

“The end result will be a mix of data-driven and personal stories that form an online curated conversation, underpinned by easy to understand data visualisations,” says Dr Wiles.

“We want to help shape a data-driven conversation to better understand what is happening to our water and find out how everyone – the general public, the agricultural sector and policymakers – can work together to conserve it for the future.”

Join in the conversation on Twitter!

If you’re interested in taking part in this important national conversation about water and our waterways, then follow the #WaiNZ campaign on Twitter or in the mainstream media during the week of 11-15 September.