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Understanding engineering from a Māori perspective

23 August 2022

A belief that engineers have a responsibility to protect the environment has inspired Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury graduate Alyce Lysaght.


Engineering graduate Alyce Lysaght believes engineers have a responsibility to protect the environment.

A belief that engineers have a responsibility to protect the environment has inspired Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury graduate Alyce Lysaght.

Alyce (Ngati Ranginui, Ngaiterangi) has graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), with a Professional Specialisation in Natural Resource Engineering, minor in Water and Environmental Systems Engineering, and a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering.

SDG 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

“Engineers have the responsibility to design environmentally low impact solutions for the natural and built environment that benefit te taiao [nature] and in turn generations to come – and I wanted to be a part of that,” Alyce says.

“During my degree I learnt that not only is there an opportunity to understand engineering from an ao Māori perspective – it is integral to for us to design engineering solutions for all of Aotearoa.”

During her studies, Alyce was involved with the ENGMe! kaupapa for tauira Māori, and Te Akatoki (Māori Students’ Association) as the Academic Representative for Engineering. She was also part of the UC Student Volunteer Army in various roles, including Vice President, Events Manager and Schools Coordinator, and started the ‘Māori in Engineering’ podcast. In 2021 she received the Ngāi Tahu Research Study Award in recognition of her performance in engineering and innovative thinking, and contribution to supporting Māori in Engineering.

“When I came to university I didn’t know much about my own whakapapa Māori, so EngME! and Te Akatoki were integral for me to be where I am today,” Alyce says.

“My pathway of study meant that I was also able to study papers that focused on te reo Māori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Having knowledge that has helped me better understand Aotearoa meant that I felt I could enter the engineering industry a lot more grounded.”

Alyce is now employed as a graduate Water Engineer in the Water Assets team in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington, with a long-term career aspiration to support iwi Māori through engineering.

“I would like to continue to learn technical engineering skills and te reo Māori me onā tikanga Māori and use the two to understand how the engineering industry can better incorporate ao Māori into design, and develop meaningful partnerships with iwi Māori. I hope to have a positive impact on te taiao through harnessing mātauranga we already have and implementing strategic design in our engineering solutions.

“My long-term career aspiration is to empower rangatahi to pursue engineering as a career, to believe in themselves and do what they set their minds to. Manaaki whenua, manaaki tāngata, haere whakamua – if we take care of the land and take care of the people, we will take care of the future.”

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