Restoration, freshwater fish and mahinga kai

Host Faculty: Science
General Subject Area: Human geography, social-ecological systems, enviro
Project Level: Master's
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Fish Futures 2

Would you like to work with an interdisciplinary team of social scientists and ecologists in partnership with mana whenua to help understand key challenges around rejuvenating freshwater systems and people’s connections to them?

We are seeking applicants for a fully-funded Master’s project ($22,000 stipend plus fees), with the possibility of an additional, connected summer scholarship (6-8 weeks in 2023-24) and assistance with research costs. This opportunity would suit someone starting a one-year Master’s thesis, having completed Masters part 1 or Honours, or otherwise qualified for entry into a Master’s by thesis. The ideal candidate may have a background in environmental science, geography, water resource management, ecology, Māori studies, or other relevant discipline.

The project will sit under the umbrella of a larger multi-disciplinary research project ‘Fish Futures: reimagining freshwater ecosystem management in Aotearoa’ ( The study will contribute to our research exploring drivers of change and the dynamic relationships between people, freshwater fish and ecosystems. This 1-year scholarship (2024) will enable your collaboration with leading researchers in environmental management, freshwater ecology, human geography, and mātauranga Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally. It will afford opportunities to work closely with mana whenua as research partners, with the guidance and support of your thesis supervisors.

We welcome applications from candidates with experience or interest in environmental social science who are motivated to carry out original research in collaboration with the wider research team, stakeholders, mana whenua and communities. The work will involve literature review, interviews, and field visits in Te Waipounamu/the South Island.

The research will be supervised by Dr Ed Challies at the Waterways Centre, School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury, with involvement from other members of the Fish Futures team. The successful applicant has the option of being located in either Christchurch or Nelson. For questions about the scholarship and research opportunity, please contact Ed Challies:


Supervisor: Ed Challies

Key qualifications and skills

Ideal candidate attributes

  • A relevant Bachelors degree with honours or part 1 Masters (or equivalent) – e.g. in human geography, environmental studies/science, ecology, or a related field, and excellent coursework grades
  • Excellent spoken and written English
  • Either a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident, or holder of a valid visa to study in New Zealand.
  • NZ drivers licence
  • An interest in and motivation to explore questions of freshwater fish management from a social-ecological, political ecology, or policy perspective.
  • Familiarity with (or an interest in learning about) Te Ao Māori and Māori interests in freshwater and biodiversity.
  • Interest in environmental and conservation issues and policy in Aotearoa New Zealand or other settler-colonial settings, and ideally with freshwater management issues.
  • Enthusiasm to dive into interdisciplinary research and develop skills in relevant social science research methods (e.g. key informant interviews, focus groups, hui, etc.).

Does the project come with funding

Yes - fees plus NZ$22,000 stipend

Final date for receiving applications



freshwater fish management, social-ecological systems, feedbacks