Niwa researchers are set to explore the viability of climate-resilient, high value crops for the East Coast settlement of Omaio.
The project will look at the effects of climate change in Omaio and look at how to create a local economy based around high value products such a kiwifruit.
It received $250,000 from the Vision Mātauranga programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge.
Omaio is a small coastal settlement around 100km east of Whakatane.
Climate change is already impacting the community, with more frequent storms resulting in increased river and sea bed sedimentation as well as damage to roading and other infrastructure.
The chair of Te Rau Aroha Trust Chris Insley said the issue of climate change needed to be dealt with head on.
"Science has got to play a hugely important role, help us understand what are the best decisions we might make in terms of our land use."
The sheltered bays around Te Whānau-ā-Apanui have long been productive for growing produce like kiwifrut, Mr Insley said.
"We use to call them chinese gooseberries back then so we know those things grow."
Mr Insley said at the moment land was not being effectively used.
"These lands are utilised for low-value maize. Maize growers provide no employment for whānau and contribute nothing to growing the local economy."
He estimated if high value crops such as kiwi fruit were planted in the area more than 100 jobs would be created for whānau in Omaio.
The project will start next year and run until June 2019.