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Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the Maritime Topic Hub.  The Maritime environment contains a wide range of actors and perspectives, including everything from harm prevention in areas such as ports, the safety of recreational craft, impact on the marine environment from emissions, analysis of NZ’s international supply chain and rescue co-ordination and incident response.  The topic hubs seeks to support the widespread maritime whānau by promoting evidence, enabling connections across a dynamic and complex setting.  We encourage anyone with an interest to come along and contribute.

Upcoming events:



Previous events 

Imagining an autonomous maritime future – safety and security challenges - 13 Decemeber 2023 

On the 13th December the Maritime Hub hosted speakers talking about how systems to support autonomous ships could be designed.  Will machines hold the wheel in the future, or will advanced technology and AI help the human captains do their job better? 

Doug Owen’s presentation highlights a number of challenges the development maritime autonomous systems presents based on the experiences from the ECAMARIS project in Finland, and what the key ingredients for a successful way forward may be. Based on our experience developing concept designs for electronic lookout (E-Lookout) and Bridge 0 (a conditionally uncrewed bridge), Doug presents some of the general challenges revealed from working with the design of autonomous systems in practice.


Improving recreational SUP safety though activity-based forecasting - 25th May 2023

In this hub event Brett Beamsley demonstrates the newly developed wave modelling system called SwellMap.  He then looks at how the data that underpins marine forecasts is put together, looking specifically at the example of the forecast for Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs), drawing on evidence on how SUP stability is affected by conditions on, above and below the water.

The MetService resource is a public-facing data tool, and therefore this work is framed in terms of how we present some of the science to the public so they can make good choices.  Adrian Stephenson and Matt Wood of Maritime NZ will describe the approach taken by MNZ in partnership with MetService and the Safer Boating Forum, which helps us to make sense how we can share the science with the public to best effect. 

Presenters: Adrian Stephenson, Brett Beamsley

Discussants: Bill Dawes, Matt Wood

Understanding trends and risks in marine wildlife interactions with humans - 21 July 2023

Over the past two decades, wildlife tourism has experienced a noticeable shift from passive and distant observations towards highly interactive close encounters between humans and wild animals. This is particularly evident in the realm of marine wildlife tourism, with the growth of commercial swim-with programmes which target a range of large marine animals. These close in-water interactions are potentially dangerous for humans who are in an unfamiliar marine setting and who have little experience in, or understanding of, the risks associated with such encounters.

Join us to hear about the Swim-with Wildlife Adventure Recreation Model (SWARM) was created by Chantal Paget to explain the factors that influence perceptions and management of risk and safety in marine wildlife tourism interactions. Chantal’s PhD study used qualitative data obtained in three case studies featuring swim-with programmes with marine mammals and sharks revealed multiple influences apparent in the different stages of operations that affect key stakeholders. Such influences were identified as complex components to determine how risk and safety and the lived experience (including social media) of getting close to marine wildlife is constructed by tour participants and providers. This model provides suggestions for protocols and procedures that can foster safer and more sustainable interactions between people and marine wildlife in close encounters, and applies both to organised commercial operations and recreational interactions.

Dr Chantal Denise Pagel is a graduate of Auckland University of Technology (AUT), New Zealand and working as Regional Conservation Manager for the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society. While becoming a conservation biologist, Chantal has worked with sustainable marine wildlife tourism since 2010, including the exploration of the global whale-watching phenomenon and baseline research on swim encounters with Norwegian killer whales.

Developments in technology to find vessels at sea - 16th November 2022

This session included discussion technologies to track ship movements at sea. The first presentation was given by Gavin Birrell and Paul Garnham on co-operative sharing of location data to enable response agencies to respond effectively to maritime incidents.  The presentation looks at comparisons between technology types and how some systems enable skippers to provide updates that are reassuring both for whānau and for response agencies.

The second presentation is about how AIS ship tracks represent a principal data source for global maritime domain awareness. Moritz Lehmann, a Senior Scientist with Starboard Maritime Intelligence, will describe how data science tools can reveal maritime activity such as fishing and suspicious behaviour.


Developments in Vessel Tracking Technology at Sea presentation 

View the slides here [PDF, 3.6 MB].

Technological innovations for detecting hidden vessels and activity presentation
View the slides here. [PDF, 3 MB]

Maritime Topic Hub - Identifying ship behaviour using satellites.mp4(external link) from Maritime New Zealand(external link) on Vimeo(external link).

Ocean Flyer: bringing seagliders to our shores - 17 August 2022 2:00pm-3:00pm
Ocean Flyer

We have planes, we have ferries, and now Ocean Flyer presents seagliders. Join this Technology and Innovation / Maritime hub joint session to hear about an exciting new zero-emission approach to travel in Aotearoa.

Speakers: Shah Aslam, CEO – Ocean Flyer and John Hamilton, Director, Operations – Ocean Flyer.

Psychology and Safety - a tale of two studies - 24 August 2022

on the 24th August we held a discussion on psychology and safety which featured academics, practitioners and government bodies. In this session Maria Carrera Arce of the World Maritime University provided a summary of a recently published paper(external link) on SAFEMODE, an EU project looking at how to build a safety learning culture.

 WorkSafe Presentation - NZ Psychosocial Survey 2021 Key findings [PDF, 2.3 MB]


SafeMode Presentation - Data quality & trust for Safety Learning Culture [PDF, 6.1 MB]


The hub exists to:

  • Build connections between maritime researchers, analysts and data practitioners working in the maritime domain
  • Support the application of research and analysis to policy & practice
  • Develop future research opportunities through making data available for analysis and other forms of collaboration

Common themes 

From the cast-off meeting for the Maritime Hub, some common themes emerged to inform the Hub’s direction.  These are described below and will act as priorities to define what new research and analysis is relevant for presentation and discussion through the hub.


These are grouped in following aspects of change:


  • Systems – where are the vulnerabilities within the maritime system, and what are the dependencies?  In New Zealand, this includes ensuring Te Tiriti o Waitangi is at the centre of decision-making and that is reflected in system evolution.  Wider examples include the pandemic recovery, shifts in supply chains that include implications for inventory storage, connection timings and building capability to support system resilience.
  • Boat design – new craft are emerging such as seagliders, and some new features are becoming more widespread, such as foils.  What are the related changes behaviours and new risks associated with safety of humans and marine species?
  • Environmental sustainability – policy levers are shifting so that choices that are environmentally sustainable are seen as more attractive.  Ships are being built with new and diverse propulsion mechanisms that use alternative fuels to bunkers.  What are the new risks related to safety, security and environmental protection?  What developments are also underway in risk identification and mitigation?
  • Data collection – technology has enhanced information collection and distribution options, including aspects such as autonomous vessels, new navigations systems, tracking and geo-fencing. What are the issues associated with this Increasing complexity, and are there implications on cognitive load with more data and information being available – what does this suggest for system capacity, training, the effect on decision making in dynamic situations?
  • Climate change and extreme weather – How do changes made to models for forecasting and communicating changes indicate effects on infrastructure and safety?  What are the impacts on marine ecosystems as a consequence of environmental change, including warming and rising waters, increased turbulence and invasive species risk through biofouling and ballast water?  What impacts can we expect on behaviour related to kaimoana, commercial and recreational.

This will be iterative and developed over time, the hub is a space for new ideas so if you think we’ve missed something do get in touch.

Topic hub activities

All are welcome to join.  The topic hub activities will be tagged to make related documents easy to find.  As bodies of water touch of all of us in some way, so too will the subjects covered.  The domain is relevant to all the Ministry of Transport Outcomes Framework elements which will be one set of tags:

  • Inclusive access
  • Healthy and safe people
  • Economic prosperity
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Resilience and security

We will also tag material related to  Maritime New Zealand’s System Outcomes:

  • Safe People & Operations: Supporting physical, social & economic wellbeing through safe maritime operations
  • Secure Ports & Ships: Protecting people, goods and NZ’s social & economic interests
  • Clean Seas & Waterways: Playing our part in protecting and preserving the marine environment by minimising harmful emissions and discharges from ships

Finally, we’ll also tag with three related areas of interest that apply widely, but particularly in governance:

  • Industry & personal perspectives,
  • Future influences, and
  • Regulatory Practice

Three main types of activity will take place:

  • Communication within the group about new research, data and analysis priorities and projects
  • Regular meetings of a working group every quarter to update research and analysis pipelines and support ongoing projects
  • Events to discuss specific research, data or analytical outputs, usually through a presentation or seminar


Hub leads and membership

The hub lead is Tom Eats (MNZ)

The hub is open to anyone interested in sharing or discussing maritime transport related experience, data, information and research. Email to join.