'The water cycle's importance to people, and how people react to it, is very interesting...'
Studying towards a Master of Water Resource Management
NZ Aid scholar Toiata came to UC’s specialist Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management to learn more about one of the world's most precious resources. Her plan is to take her knowledge back home to Samoa to help tackle the country’s water conservation challenges.
'We cannot live without water, and it is one of the hardest natural resources to manage,' she says. 'And because water keeps changing its nature from solid to liquid to gas, it is interesting to learn, study and research it. The water cycle's importance to people, and how people react to it, is very interesting.
'These days, most places around the world face the problem of a water shortage catastrophe. Addressing those water issues requires water managers to have multidisciplinary knowledge and an integrated approach, involving scientific, political, hydrological, economic and planning skills.’
Toiata says that because of the broad nature of her Water Resources Management qualification, students from any background can succeed.
‘You don’t have to be a water scientist or very good at chemistry or science or physics or engineering. Not all the courses are hardcore science – there are policy, social, management, economics part of the programmes as well – you just have to be passionate about water, and love it!’
'Because the Centre is run by a joint partnership with Lincoln University, I could choose courses that best fit me and my background. Another great aspect is that every year there is a Waterways Postgraduate Symposium which is a chance for us students to shine! We can share our work, improve our presentation skills and meet potential employers, water organisations and stakeholders.'
Toiata enjoyed great success at UC, adding to her NZ Aid scholarship by winning the New Zealand Pacific Scholarship Award for UC’s highest academic performer within the programme. She also worked as a tutor for water courses and a mentor for other international students. She says her experience has been so good she wants to return to UC in a couple of years to undertake a PhD.
'I feel comfortable with the UC staff. I believe I have made some good connections here and I would like to keep networking with the Waterways Centre staff. They are incredible – really helpful and have vast expertise.'
Although Toiata found the prospect of starting university in a foreign country slightly daunting, she has made the most of it and can't wait to come back.
'It was very challenging in my first few days,' she says. 'But the moment I met other students, staff, lecturers and got involved in campus activities, UC became my second home, and I have enjoyed every day! UC has a great environment – there is help everywhere! Academic, health, security the student clubs and so on. You can always find what you need within campus. Everything is so convenient.'
'Off campus, there is skiing in the winter and tramping during the summer season. The South Island has so many amazing places...'