Developing an integrated ocean observing system for New Zealand

The project aims to develop a collaborative Aotearoa New Zealand ocean observing system (NZ-OOS). Data from multiple organisations will be combined to create a system that meets the needs of scientists, stakeholders and kaitiakitanga / guardianship of our oceans in a changing climate.

  • Kapiti buoy V3
  • NZ OOS ocean glider
  • NZ OOS Figure2


Aotearoa New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone is 20 times larger than its landmass, yet it does not currently have an ocean observing system. This project aims to develop a collaborative ocean observing system (NZ-OOS) that meets the needs of scientists, stakeholders and kaitiakitanga / guardianship of these oceans in a changing climate.

Project details

Ocean conditions are monitored by several groups throughout the country. Examples include two sea surface temperature monitoring sites at opposite ends of the country, an ocean acidification observing network with 14 sites around New Zealand, wave buoys, monitoring buoys and coastal moorings.

Typically, buoys can deliver a combination of data on currents, waves, salinity, temperature, oxygen, chlorophyll, ocean acidity and wind. However, the data can be difficult to access or researchers may be unaware it exists.

What they hope to achieve

The project aims to create a unique ocean observing system, where observations are collected once and used many times. Existing data will be combined and connected across organisations so everyone involved will know where the information is and will be able to access it.

New Zealand is managing multiple stressors in the changing climate, including sea-level rise and ocean acidification. A sense of urgency exists to understand, predict, and mitigate nationally the ocean’s responses to these problems.

Mātauranga Māori will be incorporated to develop more effective ocean stewardship. Joint efforts between mātauranga Māori and western science practices are becoming more common, providing holistic, inclusive, system-wide knowledge of the natural world.


Dr Joe O'Callaghan

NZ OOS ocean glider
One of NIWA’s underwater gliders capturing unique data as part of NZ-OOS


Developing an Integrated Ocean Observing System for New Zealand

Read more about creating a framework for the NZ-OOS that builds on existing efforts in New Zealand