Plant & Food Research Summer Studentship Profile

Meet Plant & Food Research at the CDES Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Expo!

Hone Ropata

  • Kaiāwhina Rangahau - Māori Engagement (Applied Entomology), Plant & Food Research
  • Bachelor of Science - Biological Science

Did your career plans change as you studied?
When I left high school I wanted to be a science teacher. However it turned out they wanted me to do more chemistry than I was comfortable with! While completing my undergraduate degree I decided to apply for the Plant & Food Research summer studentship programme as I thought it would be a good experience and give me something to do over the summer break. I ended up being given a project on the potential effects of myrtle rust on plant species important to Māori, which lead to a full time role. Currently I work on myrtle rust as well as other taonga species, and I’m able to share science with classrooms all over the country.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
I have had the opportunity to be involved with some great community projects such as Gateway (structured workplace learning for year 11-13 students), working with school science fair teams, and supervising school projects on myrtle rust. I want to keep doing this sort of work in the future and help to make science a dinnertime conversation among New Zealand families.

How valuable was your internship OR work experience for you as a student? How did this help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?
My summer studentship was possibly the most valuable thing I’ve done in my life so far, it allowed me to sit alongside of some of New Zealand’s best to solve real world problems.

I worked at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa on myrtle rust, and was able to have work published during this project. The same methodology is now used over New Zealand and I still use it in a lot of my work today.