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PROTECTING OUR
TAONGA SPECIES

Aisling. PHD IN BIOLOGY.

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Aisling's Story


Incorporating kaupapa Māori principles into her scientific research has been a real privilege for Aisling. See more about her UC journey below.

Many people think that young people don't care about their community or aren't interested in doing something for the greater good. But there are so many groups around UC that do great things. Young people really do want to create change and UC provides a pathway for that.

Our research is co-developed together with mana whenua at every step of the research pathway.

How did you end up pursuing your PhD?

In third year, I approached one of my favourite lecturers and asked her about opportunities to carry on into postgrad. She offered me an awesome Honours project that led into my current PhD research topic.

What's your topic?

I apply emerging technologies to mahinga kai (traditional Māori food source) species, including crayfish/kēkēwai. I'm using genetic information to inform how we manage kēkēwai for conservation outcomes and to enhance customary and commercial harvest.

What do you enjoy most about your studies?

I get to make a tangible difference, even as a student. Our co-developed research emerges from existing relationships with local mana whenua, DOC and primary industry. This way, our work is responsive to the needs and expectations of these diverse communities.

Is Māori culture a big part of your degree?

Absolutely. Kēkēwai is a taonga species. The animals, their DNA and the data we derive from that are all taonga too, so it's our responsibility to incorporate kaupapa Māori principles into our work. Our research is co-developed together with mana whenua at every step of the research pathway.

How has that connection affected you?

It's been a privilege. Incorporating mātauranga Māori is more than a box to tick. It's a far richer process that ultimately enhances outcomes for our taonga species.

What else have you been up to at UC?

I've become involved in the Student Volunteer Army which has been life changing. Being surrounded by a group of people who all want to make a positive impact is really special.

Sounds like UC is a great place for change-makers!

It's amazing. Many people think that young people don't care about their community or aren't interested in doing something for the greater good. But there are so many groups around UC that do great things. Young people really do want to create change and UC provides a pathway for that.