Science Express - A New Edge to New Zealand? - Gerard van Bohemen & Dr Bryan Davy 

2 October 2008, 

Where does New Zealand’s official boundary end? Two years ago New Zealand took the results of a 10-year research study to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, in a bid to determine our extended continental shelf (ECS). The word is now out.

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New Zealand now has rights to an extra 1.7 million square kilometres of seabed, in addition to the 4.0 million square kilometres within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone). The resulting ECS is an area of continental shelf twenty times larger than our land mass. This has the potential to give us access to valuable resources, such as minerals and oil and gas on or beneath the seabed.

The submission was based on substantive science, relating to the seabed and underlying rocks, although the science had to inform an international legal document. The resulting successful ruling raises issues relating to New Zealand’s jurisdiction and responsibility as a nation.

Gerard van Bohemen, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Legal Division, and Dr Bryan Davy, a marine geophysicist from GNS Science, discuss the basis for and implications of New Zealand’s initiatives.


This podcast was recorded on 2 October 2008. This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

Proudly Supported by GNS Science and the Royal Society of New Zealand, Wellington Branch.

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