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Coastal People: Southern Skies

Responding to climate change

Coastal People: Southern Skies is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) based at the University of Otago.

The collaboration connects communities with world-leading, cross-discipline research to support transformative change to rebuild coastal ecosystems.

The focus is on the changes resulting from ocean warming and acidification, sea-level rise, and climate change. Research includes responding to the decline in culture, local economy, and well-being of coastal people in New Zealand and across the Pacific.

Coastal connections Otago Magazine feature

Postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships available

Applications are now open. For eligibility and application details, visit:

CPSS postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships

Our people

Coastal People: Southern Skies (CPSS) involves researchers from University of Otago, education programmes, government and community partners, University of Auckland, University of Waikato, Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, University of Canterbury, and Auckland University of Technology.

Professor Anne-Marie Jackson and Associate Professor Chris Hepburn lead the Coastal People: Southern Skies collaboration.

Our researchers feature prominently in the University of Otago's prestigious publication, He Kitenga:

Vision and mission

Our vision is flourishing wellness (mauri ora), of coastal social-ecological systems and communities.

Our mission is to connect, understand and restore coastal marine environments and communities in New Zealand and the Pacific through transformative research, local action and unlocking potential through new pathways to learning.

The values that guide our approach are diversity, humility, integrity and respect which allow us to work in true partnership with our proud coastal communities.

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University of Otago research partners

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai

people on a beach preparing research thumbTe Tiaki Mahinga Kai promised to use the lessons learned from our previous program – Kia Mau te Tītī Mo Ake Tōnu Atu – to assist fellow kaitiaki to assert rangitiratanga and kaitiakitanga to re-establish and maintain customary use of mahinga kai throughout Aotearoa. Our work today focuses on research, community tools, and dialogue.

Meet our Project Co-ordinators:
Associate Professor Chris Hepburn
Professor Anne-Marie Jackson

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Te Koronga

Te Koronga detail of logo thumbTe Koronga refers to the yearning for esoteric knowledge for the betterment of our world. Our kaupapa is Māori research excellence based on the aspirations of Māori communities underpinned by a Kaupapa Māori ethos.

Meet our Co-Directors:
Professor Anne-Marie Jackson
Dr Chanel Phillips

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Department of Marine Science

Marine Science ocean floor thumbThe Department of Marine Science is a multidisciplinary department with research strengths in both biological and physical marine sciences. We have research facilities around the South Island of New Zealand but research is conducted from Fiji to Antarctica.

Meet our Director of the Aquaculture and Fisheries programme:
Associate Professor Chris Hepburn

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Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health

Pacific wooden pots on blue cloth thumbVa'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health is home to a dedicated team of Pacific and non-Pacific researchers working and teaching in areas of importance to Pacific communities in New Zealand and internationally.

Meet our Deputy Director:
Associate Professor Rosalina Richards

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New Zealand Marine Studies Centre

Marine Studies crab thumbThe NZ Marine Studies Centre offers marine education programmes, and operates a research aquarium based in Portobello on the Otago Peninsula, where there has been a marine research station for over 100 years, starting with a fish hatchery in 1904.

Meet our Director:
Sally Carson

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Future Ocean Research Theme

Cresting ocean wave thumbFuture Ocean Research Theme works to understand human impact on our marine ecosystem and physical environment. We use biological and physical time series, controlled experiments, and modelling to establish the interactions between chemical, physical, and biological processes. 

Meet our Director:
Associate Professor Linn Hoffmann

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Research Centre for Oceanography

Oceanography wave crest thumbThe Research Centre for Oceanography, a partnership between NIWA and the University of Otago, is at the forefront of aquatic and environmental marine research. The Centre explores a range of research areas to promote and enhance excellence in chemical and physical oceanography.

Meet our Directors:
Cliff Law
Professor Russell Frew

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Southern Pacific Archaeological Research

SPAR  banner thumb Southern Pacific Archaeological Research uses archaeology's emerging technologies to provide extraordinary insight into human interactions with fauna and environments in New Zealand and the Pacific. Our research is producing answers to questions that traditional methods have not solved.

Meet our Directors:
Professor Richard Walter
Dr Karen Greig

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