Impressive response to DOC scholarship programme

 Some of the country’s most forward-thinking early-career conservationists are among recipients of a new scholarship aimed at supporting a new generation of biodiversity champions.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has awarded one-year postgraduate research scholarships of $15,000 to ten Masters students in the natural and social sciences.

“DOC received 82 eligible applications for Te Papa Atawhai postgraduate scholarship programme – a great response, considering this is the scholarship’s inaugural year," Conservation Minister Kiri Allan said.

“The students who won the scholarships will help build New Zealand’s conservation science capacity and capability, contributing to research to tackle the biodiversity crisis and planning for more sustainable tourism.”

Research on the endangered tarapirohe/black-fronted tern, impacts of climate change on Fiordland ecosystems and COVID-19 impacts on outdoor recreation are just a few examples of the topics being funded.

“I’m told the selection panel was impressed by the high quality of the applications, and found it challenging to choose just 10 recipients. The importance of research in this field can’t be underestimated, so it is hugely encouraging to see the interest this programme is generating,” Kiri Allan said.

The DOC postgraduate scholarship was one of largest scholarship application rounds administered by Universities New Zealand in 2020.

Successful applications for the inaugural DOC Te Papa Atawhai postgraduate scholarship programme:



Area of research

Jennifer Alderton-Moss

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Utilising mycorrhizal fungi in the conservation of an endangered native orchid.

Charles Ching


Observational analysis of the Mt Ruapehu crater lake, volcano tourism risk.

Gemma Coutts


Exploring local ecological knowledge in an ‘At Risk’ catchment as a resolution to shifting baselines: a case study from Pelorus/ Te Hoiere, Marlborough.

Britney Ford


Overcoming barriers to biodiversity protection in Mōtu, New Zealand: A catchment-based study assessing tools and perspectives for overcoming net loss of areas of high biodiversity value.

Fraser Gurney


Breeding movements and winter dispersal of Black-fronted Terns (Chlidonias albostriatus)

Callum Long

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Modelling the effects of climate change on the Fiordland marine food web.

Josie Mainwaring

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

To develop a detailed understanding of Phytophthora agathidicida oospores and identify microbial antagonists for biocontrol in Kauri Dieback disease.

Amy Norris

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Covid tourism planning.

Samuel Purdie


Ecology and habitat use of skinks in North Otago with a focus on the newly discovered alpine rock skink (Oligosoma sp.) and the scree skink (Oligosoma waimatense).

Alana Thurston


Improving techniques to manage Phytophthora agathidicida, the causal agent of Kauri Dieback disease.