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Senior LecturerSarah Mager image


Richardson Building, room 4C23
Office Hours: email to make an appointment
Tel +64 3 479 4222


  • GEOG 101 Physical Geography (Hydrology Module)
  • GEOG 201 Field Research Methods
  • GEOG 299 Freshwater Resources: Monitoring and Management
  • GEOG 301 Field Research Studies (team taught)
  • GEOG 399 Freshwater Resources: Monitoring and Management
  • GEOG 461 Mountain Hydrology (co-taught with Daniel Kingston)
  • GEOG 470 A Research Topic in Geography
  • GEOG 490 Dissertation
  • GEOG 495 Masters Thesis Preparation

Occasional Contributor to:

Research interests

Sarah's research interests are as follows:

  1. Chemical weathering and denudation in mountain regions;
  2. Particulate organic carbon and suspended sediment flux;
  3. Water quality and water quantity in riverine systems;
  4. Headwater catchment hydrology in alpine and tussock grasslands;
  5. Hydrological ecosystem services.

Current research

Sarah's current research interests are in headwater catchment hydrology, including hydrochemistry, water yield and runoff processes. These interests include current research projects examining the hydrochemistry and geochemistry of the Southern Alps (with Dr Simon Cox of GNS Science), the export of particulate organic carbon from tussock grasslands, occult precipitation input into tussock grasslands (with Dr Daniel Kingston), and atmospheric rivers and their influence of terrestrial geochemistry (with Dr Daniel Kingston). Emphasis is particularly in the areas of observing in-field water quality and quantity that can be use to understand hillslope processes, as well as inform hydrological ecosystem services and development of decision-making management tools, specifically, LUCI with Dr Bethanna Jackson and Dr Deborah Maxwell of Victoria University, Wellington.

Potential student projects

For 2019, potential projects will be focusing on observing water quality to provide validation for LUCI modelling in headwater catchments, and in vulnerable lowland catchments.

Postgraduate Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Christina Bright, PhD: Particulate organic matter influences on turbidity and suspended sediment concentration in rivers.
  • Victoria Grant, MSc: Quantifying storm water runoff quality into Lake Wanaka.
  • Rosa Kirkham, MSc: Methods for quantifying bedload movement in alluvial channels.
  • Ben Wilkins, MSc: Agricultural practices of fertiliser application in Nepal and their effect on water quality.

Previous Supervision

  • Josie Cairns, 2018 MSc: Vertical Changes in Soil Moisture in a Tussock Grassland Soil.
  • Sophie Horton, 2018 MSc: Chemical composition of alpine rivers, Southern Alps, New Zealand
  • Henrietta Jackson, 2018 MSc: An Assessment of the Hydrology of the Pool Burn and the Management Opportunities for Restoring Stream Function.
  • Florence Mills, 2018 MSc: Hydrologic Implications of Woody Vegetation Change in Indigenous Snow Tussock Grasslands: A Case Study at Glendhu (with Associate Professor Nicolas Cullen).
  • Kenzie Jackson, 2017 MSc: Understanding the water resources of the Cardrona River, Central Otago.
  • Alexandra King, 2017 MSc: Conveyance of inorganic and organic carbon in mountainous rivers: a case study from the Haast River, Southern Alps, New Zealand.
  • Emily Diack, 2015 MSc: Nutrient Concentrations in the Rivers of the Southern Alps: A Proxy Indicator for Reference Water Quality Conditions in New Zealand.
  • Jessica Pullen, 2015 MAppSc: Response of Diary Farmers, Industry and Government to Drought in the Grey Valley, West Coast - An inquiry into environmental circumstances and multi-level management (with Dr Sean Connelly).
  • Alice Trevelyan, 2015 MSc: Quantifying fog deposition, evapotranspiration, and water yields in snow tussock grasslands.
  • Elisabeth Liddle, 2014 MSc: Assessing the state of the water quality the challenges to provision, and the associated water development considerations in Ndola, Zambia (with Professor Etienne Nel).
  • Michelle Hitchcock, 2014 MSc: Characterising the surface and groundwater interactions in the Waimatuku Stream, Southland.
  • Emma Reeves, 2014, MSc: Modelling the hydrological impacts of land use change and integrating cultural perspectives in the Waikouaiti Catchment, Otago, New Zealand (with Dr Daniel Kingston).
  • Tom McKnight, 2013 MPlan: Planning for Intensive Dairying in the Mackenzie Basin: An inquiry into social and collaborative planning.
  • Alifatul Abu Hanipah, 2013 MAppSc: Water Quality of the Leith River and Lindsay's Creek: the effect of land use and flow variation.
  • Kirsty Duff, 2013 MSc: Catchment Changes Effect on Future River Flow (with Dr Daniel Kingston).
  • Kirsty Dykes, 2013 MSc: Constructed Wetlands for Nutrient Attenuation.
  • Amanda Fountain, 2013 MSc: Solute, suspended sediment and bedload transportation in a pristine temperate forest, Silver Stream, New Zealand.
  • Abigail Lovett (2011) - Origin of mirabilite deposits, Hobbs Glacier, Antarctica (with Professor Sean Fitzsimons)
  • Simon Pollock, 2010 MSc: Assessing groundwater/surface water connectivity and the effect on groundwater quality in Alexandra, Central Otago.


Mager, S. M., & Horton, S. L. (2023). Reconstructing a 51-year record of catchment scale dissolved load for the Haast/Awarua River in the Southern Alps, New Zealand. Geomorphology, 437(108807). doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2023.108807

Van Loon, A. F., Rangecroft, S., Coxon, G., Werner, M., Wanders, N., Di Baldassarre, G., … Kingston, D. G., Loft, J., Mager, S. M., … Van Lanen, H. A. J. (2022). Streamflow droughts aggravated by human activities despite management. Environmental Research Letters, 17(4), 044059. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac5def

McIntyre, J., Mager, S., & Connelly, S. (2022). Can catchment groups fill the democratic deficit? Catchment groups as a hydrosocial phenomenon in Waikaka, Southland. New Zealand Geographer, 78, 76-86. doi: 10.1111/nzg.12323

Mager, S., Knopick, M., & Oddy, G. (2022). The concentration and prevalence of asbestos fibres in Christchurch, New Zealand’s drinking water supply. Water Supply, 22(4), 4445-4456. doi: 10.2166/ws.2022.108

Kingston, D. G., Mager, S. M., Loft, J., & Underwood, G. (2021). An upstream–downstream/observation–model approach to quantify the human influence on drought. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 66(2), 226-238. doi: 10.1080/02626667.2020.1849706

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