BLAKE NIWA Ambassador

This year there will be four BLAKE NIWA Ambassador Programmes available encompassing climate, atmospheric, aquaculture, ocean and freshwater sciences. Details of each programme are described below.

BLAKE NIWA Ambassadors will receive a $2000 student loan scholarship that is directly paid off their study link accounts.

National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA)

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 & Oceans

NIWA is New Zealand’s largest marine science organisation, with ~508 staff who contribute to the ~$60M of annual research and science services conducted in this area. These experts are supported by the fully-equipped research vessel Tangaroa, other smaller vessels, specialist remote, on-board, and at-base analysis equipment, the high performance computer and the marine and aquaculture research facility at Bream Bay. Its marine science includes:

  • Assessing the geological and biological resources of the seafloor.
  • Understanding ocean currents and productivity.
  • Determining the effects of stressors on marine ecosystem resilience and recovery, taking an ecosystem-based approach.
  • Identifying threats from introduced seaweeds and animals, and developing tools to mitigate their impact.
  • Assessing fish stocks and developing ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management.
  • Determining the impacts of fisheries and aquaculture on marine ecosystems.
  • Developing techniques for the aquaculture of established and emerging shellfish and finfish species.

Freshwater & Estuaries

NIWA has ~350 staff who contribute to the ~$40M of annual research and science services conducted in this area. These experts utilise data from NIWA’s water monitoring network of 100 sites, as well as from additional data collection campaigns using specialist sampling and analytical equipment. It’s freshwater and estuaries science includes:

  • Predicting the dynamics of water availability and the ecosystem limits to allocation
  • Understanding the interactions between surface waters and groundwater, including the pathways for transfer of contaminants
  • Identifying threats from introduced aquatic plants and animals and developing tools to mitigate their impact
  • Developing techniques to enhance ecosystem health in response to contaminants and habitat modification
  • Developing improved operational tools for the forecasting of floods

Climate, Atmosphere & Weather (and related Hazards)

NIWA has ~300 staff who contribute to the ~$30M of annual research and science services in this area. These experts utilise NIWA’s high-performance computer, atmospheric composition sampling and analysis equipment, and NIWA’s 200 weather measurement sites across the country. They also participate in extensive global collaborations that enrich New Zealand’s science and provide opportunity for adding greater benefit. Its climate, atmosphere and weather science includes:

  • Observe, analyse and model the atmosphere and climate of the New Zealand region.
  • Determine the role of oceans in influencing New Zealand’s climate.
  • Predict the effects of climate change and variability on New Zealand and the South West Pacific.
  • Determine the impacts of air pollutants on human health and evaluate mitigation options.
  • Predict and evaluate risks, impacts and potential losses from weather-related hazards.
  • Develop and deliver operational weather and weather-impact forecast models.

Surveying humpback whales in the Ross Sea during the Blake NIWA Ambassadorship on Tangaroa in 2015.

BLAKE NIWA Ambassadors – Marine

Location: Sub-Antarctic 

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. 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.   

The Ambassadors must be able to cope with 28 days at sea on a moving platform, in shared accommodation, and maintain a positive, helpful attitude. The Ambassadors will assist with at-sea data collection, including:

  • Collecting biological information on trawl catch
  • Collecting fisheries acoustic data
  • Measurement of water properties

Ambassadors will work a 12-hour shift alongside 7 NIWA staff members and the Tangaroa crew.

Time frame: 11 November - 9 December

BLAKE NIWA Ambassadors – Aquaculture

Location: Bream Bay (Whangarei)

NIWA's Northland Marine Science Centre is home to New Zealand’s largest on-land marine research facility.  At present the site is dominated by aquaculture research and pilot-scale aquaculture production for two of New Zealand iconic marine fish species the yellowtail kingfish and hāpuku (pronounced hapuka).  Aquaculture is one of New Zealand’s main success stories with our cultured species maintaining a high reputation for quality.  NIWA's team in Northland is highly skilled in all aspects of aquaculture research and production and hosts researchers and students from around the world to collaborate and learn the best techniques that currently exist. The Ambassadors would have the opportunity to become part of NIWA's young team and learn what it is to participate in a well disciplined and efficient operation at the cutting edge of research and production to farm marine finfish.  They would have the chance to find out about good and ethical fish husbandry, how to look after large broodstock (fish as large as 40kg), larval rearing and the production of live microfeeds, size grading, health management, basic system management, feed management and finally harvesting.  The Ambassadors must be willing to work hard, follow direction for procedures and safety and above all to be keen to learn and participate in the day to day operations of NIWA's vibrant successful site.

Time frame: November - December 2019

BLAKE NIWA Ambassadors – Freshwater

Location: Waikato

The award will contribute to on-going experiments by learning to conduct monitoring of experiments and analyse improvements in water quality. The BLAKE Ambassador will be working with NIWA to develop novel marae and rural property wastewater treatment, and develop agricultural run-off treatment and nutrient recovery using filamentous algae.

The Ambassador will need good communication skills and be discussing wastewater treatment needs with iwi partners and other stakeholders, and discussing nutrient management needs with farmers and other stakeholders.

Time frame: Mid January 2020, 2 - 3 weeks

BLAKE NIWA Ambassadors – Atmosphere and climate

Location: Wellington and Lauder

The awards primary focus is field measurements of climate and atmospheric variables. In particular, atmospheric composition and climate variability. 

Join NIWA science teams and become engaged in the day-to-day activities of measurement programmes at the key NIWA measurement sites of Lauder and Wellington (Baring Head). Learn how the measurements and samples are used and contribute to NIWA, New Zealand and International science programmes.

Applicants should be numerate with computer skills and have keen interest in atmospheric composition and/or climate variability and change. Ideal Ambassadors are strong team players, personable with good communication skills.

The Ambassador will:

  • Assist with measurements of atmospheric constituents and state variables from a range of instruments. 
  • Assist with processing and analysis of measurements. 
  • Assist with analysis of air samples for trace gases.

Time frame: Late November/December 2019, 3-4 weeks. 1 week in Lauder and 2-3 weeks in Wellington.


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