Peter Taylor

'I want to be a leader in environmental management...'

  • Peter Taylor

Master of Water Resource Management

Environmental Manager, Antarctica New Zealand


What work do you do with Antarctica New Zealand?

My current role as Environmental Manager involves leading the delivery of the environmental strategy for the $344M Scott Base Redevelopment Project – New Zealand's largest and most complex construction project undertaken in Antarctica.

Amazing! What is your part in the project?

This multidisciplinary role includes developing and leading projects including construction management – leading the development and implementation of all environmental management plans – and the development of a bespoke sustainable design standard (Green Star), and its implementation through the design and construction phases of the project.

I have presented this to multiple audiences including the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), the Scientific Community on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and the Council of Manager of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), and as an invited guest at the NZ Planning Institute's Annual Conference.

I am also working on environmental monitoring – designing and leading the implementation of a ~$1.5M comprehensive monitoring programme encompassing the marine benthic environment, the terrestrial environment, heritage, and wildlife monitoring through artificial intelligence with UC.

This role also includes building international collaborative opportunities with COMNAP, and leading a range of environmental management projects to support New Zealand’s commitment to an increasingly well-managed Ross Sea region. I have drafted working papers to the CEP on sustainable design standards and their implementation in Antarctic construction, and drafted papers and presented to COMNAP in multiple fora.

It must be so cool to be a part of New Zealand and Antarctica history. What’s the best part of the job?

I enjoy the variety of the role, encompassing fields ranging from working with architects and engineers, to implementing sustainable design, to fieldwork in the Antarctic.

So what lead you towards Antarctica?

For my research project at UC, I travelled to Scott Base in Antarctica and conducted field work in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This experience was amazing, and I would highly recommend pursuing study that allows you to undertake field work. The field work component sets you up for graduate jobs in the sciences allowing you to understand the environment from a practical point of view.

Tell us more about your Water Resource Management studies.

My motivation for my BSc was due to my passion for environmental protection, and a desire to learn to combat the effects of climate change. This evolved into a desire to link environmental management with operations and this led me to study my Master’s degree at UC.

Why did you end up choosing UC?

Due to the strong focus on environmental science and water resource management through the Waterways Centre. The availability of staff and resources to help with your studies. The teaching and research staff, resources, and laboratories at your disposal are an asset you should make the most of.

How has the MWaterRM prepared you for work in the Antarctic?

My study taught me how to critically think and to analyse evidence to form a view on a subject. With environmental management, especially in the Antarctic, solutions are not always obvious and the ability to take a step back and analyse a situation is of great importance.

What would you advise others who want to help minimise our impact on the environment?

To keep a very open mind and a willingness to learn all aspects of an environmental issue. Pick a good range of science subjects to gain an understanding of the fundamentals across the sciences. Environmental management is portrayed as a simple system, whereas it is complex and nuanced.

What are your next steps in your career?

I want to be a leader in environmental management, specifically in environmental risk management, including climate change risk assessment and adaptation.