Dr Leonie Jones
Vision Mātauranga, Sensors, robotics and automation
Leonie Jones (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa) is part of a team involving scientific research and innovation company Digital Sensing, Auckland University, Environment River Patrol Aotearoa, and Horahora Marae, on a three-year Nitrate sensor arrays 2026 SfTI Seed project.
With degradation of water quality a matter of national importance, and two thirds of New Zealand's rivers reportedly too dirty to swim in, the project aims to develop low-cost, in-situ monitoring devices that detect and monitor nitrates in fresh water resources.
"Monitoring of nitrates within our waterways is currently carried out by collecting samples once a month at representative sites.
"This approach is expensive, time consuming, limits data to capture only high level trends, and does not provide a comprehensive repository of data from which sound and informed decisions can be made," Dr Jones says.
The work draws on western science and mātauranga Māori.
"We have a steering committee for our project which includes scientists, business people, kaumātua and kuia. Environment River Patrol Aotearoa is owned and operated by Millan Ruka of Te Uriroroi, Te Parawhau, and Te Mahurehure descent, she says.
The project is currently testing its first prototype and working on a second version.
"Toku awa koiora me ngona pikonga he kura tangihia o te matamuri" - Kingi Tawhiao
(The river of life, each curve more beautiful than the last).