Matt Hickey’s Masters thesis was on electric Fishing for Brown trout in Central Otago streams. Reassuringly, this was actually assessing the merits of electric fishing as a means of doing population surveys, and the fish were fine afterwards!
Matt had done a double major BSc in Geography and Ecology, and completed his MSc in Ecology in 2004.
“ Geography and biology were my favourite subjects at school, so I thought it would be a good place to start at Uni. What I most enjoyed about Ecology was the broadness of it. You study everything from tussock grasslands to freshwater eco-systems, and there’s lots of fieldwork. “
Now Matt is working as a Water Resource Scientist for the Otago regional Council. His job is to set minimum flows in rivers, carefully balancing the needs of the eco-system to maintain it’s sustainability, as well as the needs of users such as farmers wanting water for irrigation. The ORC is responsible for a large area that includes Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, the Catlins area, up through to the Waitaki River, so Matt’s work is hugely varied.
“What I learned in Ecology is hugely relevant to what I do every day. The Resource Management Act, which is basically the framework I operate under , is all about sustainable management. Aquatic eco-systems, and their sustainability is all in there.”
Matt plans to stay with the Regional council for a while, and then perhaps head overseas. He hopes to use his skills in ecology management overseas as well, and then he expects he will return to New Zealand. So would he recommend studying Ecology at Otago?
“ The quality of the course is very high and the diversity of it makes it easy to apply. You get knowledge on a whole raft of issues; you learn about all sorts of things.”