Poppy McGuigan Hay

A summer internship with the Ministry for the Environment was instrumental in Poppy McGuigan Hay’s decision to pursue a Master of Science in Society.

Portrait of Poppy McGuigan Hay

“As a selected representative of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, I looked at iwi perspectives on freshwater rights and interests. This role was instrumental in my decision to pursue this programme as it showed me the value of interdisciplinary research.”

Since beginning the programme in 2021, Poppy has enjoyed the combination of practical and research-based elements, and the freedom to explore a diverse array of subjects within her coursework.

“Under the expert supervision of physicist and author Laurie Winkless, I wrote and illustrated a graphic treatise on the history of underwater diving equipment. I was given the freedom to formulate a science communication project that brought together my passions for art, storytelling, and science, while incorporating the theory of my coursework.”

She is currently researching the contemporary discourse around the use of genetic engineering and gene drives within conservation.

“With the current environmental crises, it feels only natural to be exploring potential solutions within my coursework. I am in the unique stage of being able to observe the discourse without commitment to a particular position.”

Poppy is grateful for the flexibility of the postgraduate programmes at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Having already completed a Bachelor of Arts, she has continued working towards a Bachelor of Science alongside her Master’s.

“I am inherently multidisciplinary, and this has formed my approach to learning about the world. Within the Centre I found an empathetic environment that offers the antithesis of siloed learning, by welcoming disparate disciplines and allowing them to work together in the search for truths.”

“My time at Te Herenga Waka has both propelled and facilitated my commitment to learning, and I believe I owe this greatly to the passion of people around me, experts in diverse fields and students also driven by the same desire to make a difference.”