Courtney – Blog 3
Blake Ambassador 2016/17 Blogs | NIWA AMBASSADOR 2016/17
December 15, 2016

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, but that did not mean that my time here at NIWA Christchurch had to finish with anything less than a bang! My final few days were an absolute whirlwind adventure encompassing engineering, data analysis and jet boating along the Hurunui River prior to finishing with the annual Christmas party.

Ahh yes, what budding environmental scientist doesn’t want to spend their days “working” in the passenger seat of a jetboat hurtling down an isolated river that would put the scenic shots in Lord of the Rings to shame? Not me! I was ecstatic to be invited out on this fieldwork trip and by chance ended up working with a scientist who had spent the past fortnight in Antarctica with our very own Blake Antarctic Ambassador – wow, what a small world. When we arrived at our destination along the river we used the same gauging equipment as mentioned in my first blog to survey the river bed. Because the river was much deeper here, using the jet boat was the safest and most accurate way to carry out this survey.

On the jet boat – all in the name of science of course!

As mentioned earlier, nature doesn’t always cooperate in the pursuit of science so sometimes alternative plans need to be made – that day was no exception. Due to the changing river levels our team leader made the call that it would be safer to 4WD up to the final station rather than jet boating as we weren’t too sure as to whether we would be able to get back out or not. This was still a phenomenal trip into the high-country bush, carrying out some routine checks from my very first day on the job, so it was fantastic to be able to put all of the skills I had learned to use.

Quantity surveying equipment provided a higher level of precision.

My very last field task as a Blake Ambassador involved observing the presence of stream invertebrates to determine stream health, something of particular interest to me. I was taught that the colder a stream is, the healthier it is and that various macroinvertebrates can be a result of several differing factors all contributing to stream health. We spent a long time looking at overturned rocks for signs of life and I encourage anyone reading this blog to do the same! It is crucial for the next generation of young leaders to get hands-on with this research and really immerse themselves in simple things such as checking stream health through to large projects such as tsunami modelling and irrigation engineering. Just one small action today can have an incredible flow on effect tomorrow when people just get involved – it really is that easy!

Detecting stream health.

Although I only spent 10 days down in Christchurch with NIWA, I can confidently say that they were extremely exciting and action packed. The theme of “Data to Information” was explored thoroughly with a mix of practical and theoretical experience. I cannot thank enough, both the team members at the Sir Peter Blake Trust and NIWA Christchurch for their ongoing support, encouragement and enthusiasm for science and the inclusion of the next generation of budding science students such as myself in projects including the Blake Ambassador programme. From beginning this journey as a sheltered biologist, I soon became equipped with the information and skills to really take a step back and see the grass roots work that organisations such as NIWA carry out. To sum up this whole experience I would bring up a quote from Sir Peter Blake himself; “If it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing” – every path we choose to take in life, every action we choose to acknowledge can have any number of effects on ourselves and the wider community. It is up to us as young leaders of tomorrow to be able to identify what journey is worth fighting for and what path should be paved. I bid a fond farewell to Christchurch and everyone whom I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with, to head back to Auckland with my backpack filled with friendships, experience, knowledge and above all passion to continue the legacy of the great Sir Peter Blake in my own backyard.

Courtney Davies

Courtney Davies

BLAKE NIWA Ambassador 2016