“A good friend of mine was studying Zoology at Otago. At the time I was studying elsewhere, but I was interested in science and Zoology at Otago seemed like a good idea... This is a great campus! I was blown away by the resources, the people - and everything is within walking distance.
“I particularly enjoyed the hands on stuff in Zoology – the fieldwork and the labs. Handling animals in the wild is a real buzz. We worked with fur seals, penguins, dissecting fish and kina, and much more! Zoology allows you to explore areas that you never expected to visit.
Growing up in Bluff and being of Kāi Tahu descent, I was fortunate to get away to the tītī islands with my family and go muttonbirding each year. I always knew I wanted to do something in this area – ecological research around mahinga kai (traditional food gathering). When I started at the university I volunteered for the Kia Mau Te Tītī Mo Ake Tōnu Atu - Keep the Tītī Forever research programme, looking at the sustainability of the muttonbird harvest, something I grew up with! I was in the right place at the right time…
“I’ve been involved in seabird research for a number of years now, spending time on islands around Stewart Island and The Snares [one of the sub-Antarctic Islands]; you never know what to expect - the wildlife, the scenery. Sometimes you laugh and think, I can’t believe I get paid to do this! Recently I have researched sustainable farming, recreational & customary fishing, monitoring mahinga kai species - like pauā, kanakana (lampreys) and of course tītī.
“After completing my Zoology degree, I did a Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Management. I gained a lot of practical skills - report writing, handling animals, communicating research findings. The skills gained from Zoology and Wildlife Management set me up for my research and working at the university.
“If you thinking about Zoology, gather as much information as you can. Make the effort to talk to students and staff – everyone is really friendly!
“Also, you need to be thinking about where you’re heading: Do you want to do research? What organisations do you want to work for? Do you want to work overseas? You need to be thinking about this all the way through your degree.”