Leo Mercer

Environmental issues are some of the most complex challenges faced by society today, says Leo, who is conducting research to help address some of these issues.

Leo sits at his desk, turned towards the camera, with his computer behind him.

Leo is looking at land use and land use change for Māori landowners on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, specifically te Tairāwhiti. “Research I have conducted so far has indicated that the creation of permanent carbon sinks has a variety of economic and social-cultural benefits when compared with other existing land uses.

“Environmental issues in te Tairāwhiti, such as erosion, sedimentation, and poor profitability from exotic forestry and pastoral farming, are salient and of relevance to current policy debates. I have been able to partner with organisations such as Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, and Hikurangi Enterprises to conduct this research.

“I am interested in exploring how and why Māori landowners value particular land uses. I hope that my research can help assist Māori landowners to decide upon land uses that better fulfil their aspirations now and into the future.”

Leo values many of the opportunities he has had as a postgraduate student, such as tutoring undergraduate courses and travelling within New Zealand and abroad to attend international conferences. He sees Wellington as an excellent place to live and study, as it caters to broad range of interests, whether they be sporting, culture or culinary. He has especially appreciated the support he has received from the School.

“My supervisors are incredibly supportive and encouraging whilst also critiquing my work and pushing me to achieve. They understand the journey I am going through and are equipping me with the skills I need to produce research of a high quality, but also to succeed in my future career.”