Whau River key research site for microplastics and contaminants

Publish Date : 30 Oct 2020
Whau River key research site for microplastics and contaminants

Two major long-term scientific studies have chosen the Whau River as a research site for work underway to help better understand the risk to our waterways posed by microplastics and contaminants.

One study looks at the effects of emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) which are natural or manufactured chemicals often found in common household and personal care products, medicines and agrichemicals.

It aims to identify which EOCs are most prevalent in our waterways and the risks these pose to both human health and the health of ecosystems.

The other study is part of a national research programme to investigate the threat microplastics (pieces of plastic less than 5mm in size) pose to New Zealand’s ecosystems, animals and people.

More details about the studies, as well as a local iwi’s connections to the Whau River will be available at an open day supported by Whau Local Board at EcoMatters Environment Trust in November.

Learn more

“So many of us use or interact with the Whau River regularly in our community, so this is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of this river, it’s importance to a local iwi and how we can all be part of the solution in tackling the environmental issues facing our waterways,” says Kay Thomas, Whau Local Board Chair.

Robin Taua-Gordon, Heritage and Environment Officer from Te Kawerau a Maki, will be speaking at the event about the iwi’s history and connections to the Whau River.


The two scientific studies looking at the health of the Whau River catchment involve multiple organisations, and aim to better understand the threats contaminants and microplastics pose, as well as getting the community, industry and policymakers working together on solutions.

Dr Louis Tremblay from Cawthron Institute, Dr Olga Pantos from Environmental Scientific Research and Dr Grant Northcott from Northcott Research Consultants, all leading specialists in their field, will speak about these studies at the event.

Rare opportunity

EcoMatters CEO Damon Birchfield says “This is a rare and exciting opportunity to learn more about the impacts of our activities and behaviours on the health of the Whau Awa directly from some of New Zealand's leading experts."

EcoHub Market Day is on Sunday 15 November from 10am-3pm at 1 Olympic Place, New Lynn. It is part of the 2020 EcoFest West programme and is brought to you thanks to the Whau Local Board and The Trusts Community Foundation.

Learn more about the Emerging Organic Contaminants study on the Cawthron Institute website here.

Learn more about the Aotearoa Impacts and Mitigations of Microplastics study on the Environmental Scientific Research website here.

Back to News