Ahunuku Māori Summer Research Scholarship 2021-2022

Study Area(s): Science
Scholarship Level: Returning students; Honours; Master's by coursework
Closing Date(s): 20 September 2021
Award for: Māori
Value: $6,000


The Ahunuku Māori Summer Research Scholarship 2021-2022 is available through GNS Science, Te Pū Ao over the summer.

Selected scholars are expected to contribute a minimum of 400 hours to the project between November 2021 and February 2022. All projects must be completed by the start of Trimester 1, 2022.

Each scholarship will have a value of $6,000, paid in four equal instalments.

Eligibility and conditions

  • Applicants must be Māori, or of Māori descent.
  • Applicants will be selected on the basis of academic merit, expertise in the research area, and recommendations from GNS staff associated with the project.
  • Applicants must have completed at least two years of their undergraduate degree and are currently enrolled at any Australian or New Zealand University in an undergraduate, Honours, or first year of a Masters' degree.
  • Selected applicants must comply with the standard Summer Research Scholarship conditions.

Students enrolled in a PhD or Masters by Thesis programs are not eligible.

Application process

Applications for the 2021-2022 Ahunuku Māori Summer Scholarships will be open from 6 September 2021 and close 20 September 2021 at 4.30 pm (New Zealand time zone).

To apply for any of the following projects, an online application must be submitted by 4.30 pm on the closing date.

When applying, please note the corresponding scholarship code for each project. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Any required supporting documentation (including references) must also be received by 4.30 pm on the closing date in order for the application to be considered.

For further details on the projects or for any questions about the scholarship, please contact summer-research@vuw.ac.nz.

Apply online

2021-2022 Project details

Scholarship project code: 900 - Development of a new calibration to reconstruct past air and water temperatures with bacterial biomarkers in lake sediments from New Zealand

Organic compounds in lake sediments can reveal the story of how our environment responded to past events and improve our understanding of the best ways to restore and protect roto for generations to come.

This project focuses on hydroxy fatty acids – organic compounds (biomarkers) derived from bacteria that can be used for reconstructing past water and air temperatures. Hydroxy fatty acids have not been studied in Aotearoa before – this project presents an opportunity for a summer research scholar to contribute to exciting and innovating research. All analyses are undertaken at the joint GNS/VUW Organic Geochemistry Laboratory at GNS Science’s National Isotope Centre in Gracefield, Lower Hutt. The scholar will be fully trained in sample preparation, analyses, and data interpretation to complete this project and to improve laboratory work skills for their professional and scientific development.

Supervisor: Meegan Hall

Scholarship project code: 901 - Blue carbon: estuaries as carbon sinks

Blue carbon – the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems – represents one of the important, but poorly understood, components of the global carbon cycle. This research project seeks to understand the amount of carbon held by subtropical New Zealand estuary systems, and to predict how these carbon sinks may be affected by climate change and sea level rise.  The Ahunuku scholar will work alongside a PhD student, helping with field sampling, laboratory work, and data analysis.

Supervisor: Meegan Hall

Scholarship project code: 902 - Lakes 380: our lake’s health past, present, and future

Lakes380—Our Lakes’ Health: past, present, future is a five-year research project that will enrich our understanding of the environmental, social and cultural histories of 10% of New Zealand’s 3,800 lakes (>1 ha). The Ahunuku scholar will work at our GNS laboratories, assisting with sediment core sampling and analysis, data processing, and presentation. There may be some opportunities to participate in stakeholder and iwi engagement activities.

Supervisor: Meegan Hall

Scholarship project code: 903 - Okataina caldera margin imaging

The Okataina caldera is one of two active calderas in the Taupō Volcanic Zone. Multiple large caldera-forming eruptions in the past 500,000 years make this caldera one of New Zealand’s highest threat volcano. The internal boundaries of collapse structures are buried and defined largely from geophysical data. In this project, the Ahunuku scholar will model and interpret existing geophysical data (DC-resistivity, magnetotelluric and gravity) to test the hypothesis that the eastern caldera margin represents a single collapse structure created during the last caldera forming eruption. The study area is located near Tarawera Maunga and Tarawera Awa, that are of great significance to local iwi.

At the end of the project, the Ahunuku scholar will write a GNS Science report and present results to some GNS staff in a friendly and supportive environment.

Supervisor: Meegan Hall

Scholarship project code: 904 - 'The Big Questions'

At GNS Science, we’re working on answering some of the biggest science questions of our time.

What can our whenua tell us about the future, and how can we use this knowledge to support a more resilient Aotearoa?
How is Antarctica responding to a changing climate, and what are the likely impacts?

What does a ‘clean energy future’ look like, and how can our science get us there?

As we address these questions, we’re also thinking about how we can best communicate them to our stakeholders – so that they understand our research and its impact and value.

The GNS Science Communications team is looking for a summer research scholar to support the initial research and communications outputs of a ‘Big Questions’ campaign, that will address GNS Science’s key research questions and priorities in a way that is accessible, in depth, and engaging for the selected audience(s).

It will be within the scope of the scholar’s work to help shape the project and deliver a pilot communications output, based on research they will undertake into the most effective communications formats and delivery channels for this campaign. This is an opportunity to gain invaluable science communications experience, a better understanding of the science system, to build relationships with people working in science, and to deliver tangible communications work for a portfolio.

Supervisor: Meegan Hall


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