New Zealand’s First Marine Conservation Digital Library – Project Kahurangi
Shaun Lee/ Project Kahurangi - A Pied Shag tangled in ghost fishing line and tackle.

Shaun Lee / Project Kahurangi – A Pied Shag tangled in ghost fishing line and tackle.


Built to aid the work of Kiwi marine conservation organisations, Project Kahurangi is the answer to many woes about affordable and relatable ocean imagery. Aotearoa New Zealand’s first free non-profit digital library removes the barrier that marine conservation groups face in accessing high quality visuals to tell their powerful stories and to connect people to the urgency of the issues.


For decades, scientists have been signaling the unprecedented loss of biodiversity, water quality and diminishment of ecosystem health. These issues are largely out of sight and below the waterline, making them harder to see and easier to ignore. As a nation of ocean lovers, Kiwis need be guardians of the ocean but first they need to care. Effective communication and connecting people with how remarkable, special and fragile it is needs to be prioritized.


Project Kahurangi, supported by Live Ocean Foundation, is the brainchild of ex-Ocean Race sailor, photographer and videographer Gareth Cooke. Born from his deep concern for the state of the ocean, he took action when he saw a critical need for compelling imagery to connect the hearts and minds of Kiwis to this vital issue.


“I decided to take action when I noticed some of the communications coming out around ocean restoration lacked impact visually, leaving the story half told,” said Gareth Cooke.


“People need to see first-hand what is going on but also to be visually inspired enough to be more empathetic to our amazing ocean environment. We need to act with a sense of urgency, because if we don’t, who will?”


Putting the digital library into practice for a non-profit such as the Hauraki Gulf Forum, Alex Rogers Chief Executive said, “For people to care about the Hauraki Gulf they have to first connect with it. The stunning and evocative imagery now available to all through Project Kahurangi will help forge new and enduring connections to the Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi.”


“We know first-hand how powerful, relevant local imagery is in connecting the public to what is happening below the waterline,” said Sally Paterson, Live Ocean Foundation Chief Executive.


“Access to compelling, local imagery is a barrier for conservation groups out there doing the mahi on tiny budgets. Our distinctive ocean space means foreign stock imagery doesn’t resonate. Local footage, especially underwater is often expensive and time-consuming to source. Project Kahurangi is a powerful resource, giving conservation groups across Aotearoa access to compelling imagery to tell their stories.”


Project Kahurangi is freely available to all non-profit groups, educational institutions, Iwi/Hapu and Whanau Kaitiaki who require imagery for non-commercial ocean conservation use. projectkahurangi.co.nz 



Live Ocean is a marine conservation foundation committed to scaling up action for the ocean. Founded by sailors and ocean champions, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the foundation scales up marine science, innovation and outreach to connect and ignite people around the role a healthy ocean plays in a healthy future. We partner with exceptional New Zealand marine scientists, innovators and communicators whose work has global implications for the protection of the ocean and the life in it. To have a healthy future, we must have a healthy ocean.


Gareth Cooke’s life has always revolved around the ebbs and flows of the ocean. This lifelong journey which has included two circumnavigations in The Ocean Race has developed a strong passion for the ocean and an even stronger passion to look after it. While looking at some messaging about ocean conservation, he realised that a lot of messaging lacked a strong or relevant visual component to help tell the story. If he could take away cost and accessibility barriers for ocean conservation organisations – Gareth was sure he could help improve messaging for ocean conservation in Aotearoa. Project Kahurangi was born. Through visual storytelling, his ultimate goal is to show what is happening in our oceans, both the good and the bad, to inspire people to care more about the health of our oceans.

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