4 September, 2023
Using geological data and isotope research to develop new composite materials for building eco-papakāinga.
He papā te whatitiri, hikohiko te uira, kia kotahi ai ngā maunga. Ngā tohu me nga mahitahi ngā e ki ai I te tangata he rangatira.
We acknowledge the land as a gateway, a journey that can develop and unite minds across many disciplines to increase Māori research capability in unlocking the potential of Māori people, knowledge and resources. Our leadership and empowerment is based on traditional values and a Te Ao Māori worldview.
MacDiarmid Institute Stakeholder Relations Partner Iwi Diane Bradshaw, from Ngāti Te Wehi, Ngāti Mahuta hapū of Waikato Tainui, and Te Uri o Hau ki Te Rarawa Iwi, is working with geologists and hapū to look at developing composite materials for building eco-papakāinga. Ms Bradshaw, who works at GNS Science at their Wairakei Research Centre in Taupō), says the project looks to the past and to the future.
“Ancient Romans used low-carbon concrete 2000 years ago using volcanic materials, and Māori mainly used pumice deposits. Integration of mātauranga a hapū and technical learning aims to investigate rocks materials and provide insights into Māori architectural and philosophical
“We are fortunate here in Aotearoa New Zealand to have a world-class scientific community alongside an innovative ‘problem solving’ culture. When we apply these together to climate action and emissions reduction plans, we bring benefits across the economy and to the whole of society.”
She says those fields were the domain of the geologist, and can be used to constrain the location, quantity and quality of rock/sediment for use in construction.
A project of such significance requires a bold and, at the same time, sensitive but gradual approach to the use of whānau and hapū resources.Diane Bradshaw MacDiarmid Institute Stakeholder Relations Partner Iwi GNS Science
“Ohaaki provides an opportunity to facilitate cascade utilisation for materials recovery, such as silica, metals and clays. The area also has efficient low temperature electric power (with small or off-grid plants of a few hundred kW) and a range of feasible direct uses, such as space heating, horticulture and other agricultural applications.”
Ms Bradshaw says a project of such significance requires a bold and, at the same time, sensitive but gradual approach to the use of whānau and hapū resources. She says the Tahorakuri A130 Trust’s position is therefore unique in several respects, and that the next steps are to examine how sustainable the building market is, especially concerning materials use and energy.
She says interest in a holistic view of building and construction technology can influence the materials choice and fabrication and that the choice of construction systems, technique, building components and materials is usually based on a multi-criteria approach. Ms Bradshaw says this includes adverse effects on extracting natural resources from the earth as well as impacts on waterways.
“Māori land and buildings are independently the largest fixed asset and investment in tribal estates, so the importance of an economical and sustainable building process is enhanced. We hope the new research and discussion will be of some interest to other ‘Corridors of Indigenous Practitioners’ societies in Aotearoa. Experience in new models of development to reuse, renew and recycle materials in Aotearoa is very limited to date especially since the material mass in the buildings is high.”
Ms Bradshaw has now brought in as a MacDiarmid Institute Research Assistant Dr Oliver McLeod who will provide the geological information used to select rocks/sediments for extraction as building materials. Following field investigation, Dr McLeod will use thin section petrography
and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) to analyse the mineralogy of geological materials to assess their physical and chemical suitability (i.e micro- exture, glass and hydrous mineral content) for the development of different building materials (e.g. cut stone blocks, pumice-ash based composites, silica glazes).
Ohaaki provides an opportunity to facilitate cascade utilisation for materials recovery, such as silica, metals and clays.Diane Bradshaw MacDiarmid Institute Stakeholder Relations Partner Iwi GNS Science
“We continue to co-design in partnership to develop our advice and incorporate Te Ao Māori into the research. It is critical to navigate both the cultural and scientific elements, plans and policies, especially where kaitiakitanga and traditional mātauranga is a high-level strategic area led by the Trust.”
For Ms Bradshaw, the work brings her back to the vision of the Institute’s pioneering namesake, Nobel prize winner Alan MacDiarmid, who she treasures. She particularly likes one of the quotes he had on his office wall – ‘The harder I work, the luckier I seem to be’.
“I acknowledge Alan MacDiarmid as the namesake for the Institute and the inspiration for all the work we do.”