Opotiki Community Reef

Opotiki Community Reef

New Zealand
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

As many involved with artificial reef building have discovered, growing more fish in the sea is relatively straight forward. Our physical contribution here has been to develop 'reef initiation' so that it can be achieved by fishermen building effective reefs on limited ecology seabeds, working out of their own smaller boats without the need for divers.(Conditions near to the seabed in many coastal areas often have near zero visibility)

The other processes identified that lead to sustainable resource use are ones of personal development based around the ability to 'make connections' between marine knowledge, our actions and a universal energizing force simply called 'the spirit'. This three pronged connected approach is expressed in our symbolic Marine Life Tours logo seen here.

These four key processes identified for sustainable use of marine resources we share with others through a graduated series of interactive educational tour packages. These we market to visiting tourists, local schools, tour groups and businesses.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The primary problem or challenge we see facing mankind is that we are unwittingly becoming more disassociated with our marine environment leading to increasingly destructive interactive patterns. Put another way, although it may be 'the norm' to be continually taking from the sea without even a thought of giving anything back, it is surmised that this is not necessarily a healthy nor constructive interaction pattern. With technology and size on our side we have become incredibly efficient hunters on the sea. Seabed enhancement is about using the same technology to now become as farmers of the sea.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Sea bed enhancement (also known as 'man initiated reefs') distinguishes itself from its fore runner artificial reef building in that additional elements are incorporated in a process based on observation of some principles evident from study of laws of how our universe operates. We live in a world that speaks to us of 'connections', 'non linear forces' and more. We endeavor to harness such understandings in the process of reef building.
About You
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Section 1: About You
First Name


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Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Phone

027 350 4910

Organization Address

16 Wharf Str., Opotiki NZ

Organization Country


Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Would you like to participate in the MIF Opportunity 2010?

Do you have a patent for this idea?

What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?

In order to fund further community reef growth we have developed interactive tourism packages that present several 'growth' experiences for those who choose to stay at our center named 'The Wharf Hub', although the experiences can also be delivered independently.
These geo tourism experiences range from the simple watching of documentaries on the 'mysterious' nature of marine life, a 'discovery walk' of the local estuary and river environs, and can include ecofishing, reef module building and deployment experiences.


Despite one of the largest territorial seabed area of any country in the world, New Zealand has no Government direction nor sustained program of seabed enhancement.
While not seen as a panacea for all fisheries ills, we see reef initiation as a useful additional fisheries tool that is worthy of proper investigation and funding.
Currently without any major sponsors on board, the project is in danger of coming to a grinding halt. A small interactive tourism and educational unit is being launched to try and sustain interest in the project but we live in a very poor community. We call this tourism arm 'Marine Life Tours'.
We continue simultaneously taking steps to seek an interested financial partner.


A fully developed Community reef would have many benefits. The fishing produces more fish and a greater diversity of species. The fishing is closer to the boat launching area of the town, giving considerable savings in petrol costs for fishermen. Fishermen frequently distribute their catch around the community with the result that more fish is eaten by the community, resulting in better nutrition for the poorest socio economic town in New Zealand. Fishing is good exercise too. Fishing costs are reduced in other ways too, many finding that burley (chum) is no longer required to attract fish.
Employment for youth could easily be created if a project was funded. Many skills around seamanship and right living can be learnt along the way.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Foundation research and development work has been completed and recorded. The Community support the project growing and the local Town Council give the project their full support, but not financially.
The New Zealand Government declines any opportunity to be involved.
An administrator, a project Manager, a skipper and two general hands could see a Community reef being built up at a rate of a new dedicated cluster being deployed every 2 weeks.
The involvement of local community, school children and tourism is also seen as an integral part creating 'the connection' required by the reefs.
A waterfront base has been secured but capital items such as a surveyed vessel, salaries and administrative costs are all required to see the successful expansion of the model that has been developed.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

The project is already a success on a small operational model scale. What we are now looking at is the expansion of the project to becoming a true Community asset and an ongoing operational model that would be a center for sustainable environmental studies.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy or introduce models and tools that benefit the tourism sector in general?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

In what country?


Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Environment Bay of Plenty Enhancement Funding

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

The initial research and development work was undertaken in conjunction with supportive funding from Environment Bay of Plenty Environment Enhancement Fund. Since this ended in early 2010 there has been no other funding received.

AFS students from around the world being hosted in Opotiki have helped keep the momentum going on the project by building another reef in 2010.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

We need to get our message out on how individuals can make a difference to our marine world.
We need to differentiate the process of sea bed enhancement from that of artificial reef building.
We need to validate our efforts with more scientific research.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Amidst the news of the decline in wild fish stocks a short video story of great hope came out of Alabama US. The name of the video alone was enough to inspire us being ' Fish Enough for All'
The video was honest enough to also outline some the problems now being encountered over the increasingly abundant fisheries resource being created in Alabama and much of our energies were directed at studying the nature of the problem defined as 'The Tragedy of the Commons' and how this might be overcome.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

The idea grew and developed through stages and initially involved local Maori hapu (sub Tribe)and trainees on a Fisheries Course.
The later development has been carried forward by various community groups and with the support of AFS students from around the world.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Friend or family member

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

50 words or fewer