Melanie is particularly interested in Māori and indigenous ways of caring for the environment and has been able to land her dream role as a Māori Graduate Intern at NIWA.
Iwi: Ngāti Whātua and Te Rarawa, raised in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Programme: Master of Science
Subject: Environmental Management
"My university journey began in Psychology. I needed to choose an elective and ended up going with a Geography paper. That class introduced me to the space and place nature of privilege, race, and many other topics that I did not realise were recognised as Geography. Once I completed the course, I decided I wanted to major in Geography. A year after that I enrolled in an Honours in Geography, and in that programme I further developed my interest in Māori ways of caring for Te Taiao. The next step was a Masters and I chose to major in Environmental Management. I chose to pursue this qualification because I know that the skills that I can learn and further develop from this experience will be of significant importance to my whanau and hapū aspirations for caring for our rohe.
"My mum and my cousin both chose to go to The University of Auckland. I knew that I wanted to follow in their steps, so by the time it was my turn to decide what university I wanted to attend, I chose The University of Auckland. Five and a half years later and I’m still here!
"My research focuses on understanding marae-based enterprise, the articulation and embodiment of Māori values through river restoration, and the contribution of mātauranga to support cultural and environmental wellbeing. Aspects of my research look at place-based Mātauranga and how this Mātauranga influences the ways in which kaitiaki engage with their awa. Te Reo and Tikanga specific to the rohe my research is based in have also shown the importance of transmission of intergenerational knowledge.
"The area of study that I am following is Environmental Management. In particular, I am interested in Māori and indigenous ways of caring for the environment. However, in the field of Environmental Management it is clear that its foundations are based upon mainstream western ideologies of management, conservation, and governance. My intent to study Environmental Management is to contribute to identifying and highlighting Māori and indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being in relation to the environment.
Throughout my programme I have had many opportunities to engage with other researchers in the field both nationally and internationally. Interacting with other indigenous scholars has helped me realise the significance of my mahi and why I need to continue my journey in the field as a Māori researcher.
"I am very privileged in that I have landed myself a dream role as a Māori Graduate Intern in Te Kūwaha, the Māori Environmental Research Group at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). This role will allow me to explore real-world outcomes of Māori environmental research and also provide a space for me to grow as a Māori researcher.
"Tuākana and Te Fale Pouāwhina have played a fundamental role in my university experience. Both have supported me academically, and have given me the opportunity to teach other Māori and Pacific learners. Throughout my time in these programmes I have met many amazing people who I am lucky to call my friends. These individuals have also played an important part in my university journey."