Students selected to voyage to Southern Ocean on Tangaroa
Media Release
November 1, 2019
Two talented young New Zealanders are getting ready for a 28-day voyage to the Southern Ocean onboard NIWA’s Research Vessel Tangaroa, after being awarded a coveted Blake NIWA Ambassadorship.

University of Auckland student Melanie Hayden (left) and Victoria University student Hiromi Beran (right) have been selected from more than 100 applicants to travel with marine scientists and the crew of Tangaroa as part of a science expedition led by NIWA – BLAKE’s principal science partner.

During this unique science expedition Melanie and Hiromi will assist with at-sea data collection. The overall aim of this voyage is to collect information to improve understanding of the effects of climate variability on ecosystem function in the Sub-Antarctic region, including effects on protected species and on ecologically and economically important fisheries. The research is being funded by the New Zealand government through Fisheries New Zealand and the Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment.

BLAKE programme manager, Bhakti Patel, will also take part in the voyage.

James Gibson, CEO of BLAKE says this will be a life-changing experience for the BLAKE Ambassadors. “Both Melanie and Hiromi are passionate marine science students with curious and creative minds, so this voyage is the perfect opportunity for them to experience hands-on learning and to strengthen their skills and further their career prospects.

“Twenty-eight days at sea will be a challenging adventure, where they’ll develop new skills, knowledge and networks. We look forward to sharing their experience with other New Zealanders throughout their journey.”

John Morgan, NIWA’s Chief Executive says “NIWA is passionate about supporting the next generation of scientists and our team is looking forward to welcoming these impressive young people on board. This will be a voyage of discovery for them in many ways and we hope it becomes an unforgettable experience.”

BLAKE, together with partners, Antarctica New Zealand, NIWA, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and GNS Science announced 10 BLAKE Ambassadorships in total this year.

The BLAKE Ambassador programme allows young New Zealanders (aged 18 – 25 years) to work alongside leading scientists, conservators and rangers, developing relationships and partnerships in their field of interest and experiencing the practical elements of their field of study.

Blake NIWA Ambassador – Marine, Tangaroa
Melanie Hayden (Auckland) and Hiromi Beran (Wellington)
November/December 2019

In this role Melanie and Hiromi will join NIWA scientists on a 28-day sea voyage on board the RV Tangaroa to assist with at-sea data collection. The overall objective for this voyage is to collect information on middle trophic levels (small fish, squids etc) so we can better understand and model the effects of environmental variability and change on ecosystem function, particularly the effects on protected species and commercially exploited fish.

Melanie and Hiromi will assist with collection of biological information on trawl catch, collecting fisheries acoustic data and measurement of water properties.

Information from a number of sources suggest there have been major shifts in the ocean climate of the Sub-Antarctic since the 1970’s. Climatic variation can impact on multiple stages of the marine food web. The marine ecosystem of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic region includes several commercially important fish stocks, including hoki, southern blue whiting and southern arrow squid. In addition, a number of New Zealand’s megafauna species, including New Zealand fur seals and endemic New Zealand sea lions and Antipodean albatross, have major breeding colonies in the Sub-Antarctic region.

Melanie Hayden bio:
Melanie’s passion for the marine environment has grown from many summers in the outdoors volunteering as a surf lifeguard and paddling waka ama. Being a true water-baby throughout her life, she has also enjoyed scuba diving, competitive swimming, water polo and sailing.

Melanie now approaches the end of her Postgraduate Diploma specialising in marine science at the University of Auckland and will continue with a Master of Science in 2020. For her Masters, she hopes to investigate the conservation physiology of Yellow-eyed penguins between mainland New Zealand and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. The BLAKE NIWA Ambassadorship aligns well with Melanie’s Masters, giving her valuable experience in the Sub-Antarctic investigating Yellow-eyed penguin prey. Outside study she enjoys mentoring Māori and Pacific biology students in the university Tuakana programme.

Melanie is humbled to have received a BLAKE Ambassadorship in 2019. She hopes to use this opportunity to communicate the indirect impacts climate change has on our marine ecosystems while inspiring young people in Maori communities to engage in environmental sciences. She is excited to spend the next month living with researchers onboard NIWA’s Tangaroa while gaining first-hand experience in data collection, kick-starting her career in marine science.

Hiromi Beran bio:
An enthusiastic, creative and analytical person, Hiromi is a scientist and a storyteller.  Growing up in Whangārei Heads surrounded by mountains and the sea sparked a love of the natural world, and she spent hours sailing, snorkelling, mountain climbing and devouring natural history books.

Her fascination with the ocean only continued to grow, alongside a love of languages and stories, and she is currently studying Marine Biology, Spanish, Creative Writing and Statistics at Victoria University of Wellington.  The fact that this degree combination is possible is a constant source of delight, as Hiromi’s career goal is to be a marine research scientist and author, exploring the whys of our oceans and sharing them with others, and promoting international research collaboration.

She is honoured to be selected as a BLAKE Ambassador and spend a month onboard NIWA’s Tangaroa, conducting research in the Sub-Antarctic.  Furthermore, inspiring excitement and curiosity in others about subjects she loves is what she enjoys most when mentoring and tutoring, and she is excited to do this on a larger scale through the ambassadorship’s scientific outreach.


NIWA is New Zealand’s largest provider of climate, atmospheric, ocean and freshwater sciences. Approximately half of its effort is in developing new knowledge and the other half is in applying it. NIWA’s areas of expertise cover: Coasts and Oceans, Freshwater and Estuaries, Climate, Atmosphere and Weather.

For more information please contact Jacob Anderson [email protected] 021 102 5246