Student focussed on sustainability with the aim of helping her iwi

31 October 2019

Abbey Huriwai
Abbey Huriwai, pictured at the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship awards, hopes to take what she learns in environmental science to help her iwi on issues of sustainability.

A campaign to curb McDonald’s single use straws spurred Hamilton student Abbey Huriwai to study Environmental Science and Biodiversity at the University of Waikato.

Miss Huriwai says she has always had an interest in biology, and at high school one of her teachers spoke a lot about environmental problems facing the world.

“It was after seeing a video about single use plastic straws we decided to launch a campaign aimed at McDonald’s.”

Miss Huriwai and two friends launched the campaign to have McDonald’s stop offering single use plastic straws. They campaigned to have a “straw on request” policy implemented by McDonald’s.

“Ultimately McDonald’s didn’t want to change what they were doing, but the campaign definitely furthered my interest in sustainability issues,” Miss Huriwai said.

Miss Huriwai, who is connected to Waikato-Tainui and Maniapoto iwi, is in her first year of study at the University of Waikato.

She said there weren’t as many Māori students moving into environmental sciences and she believed it was an important area for Māori to be involved.

“We can work towards helping our own iwi and hapū. I’d love to be able to work for my iwi one day in the area of sustainability. There are so many issues from our marae, and the land connected to that including our rivers and waterways. I’d like to be part of helping to protect that eventually.”

She said her first year at the University of Waikato has been a challenging one and she hopes to broaden her area of study in 2020, taking more environmental planning and environmental biodiversity papers.

“I guess my ultimate job would be working for Waikato-Tainui or with one of the councils in an environmental sustainability role. Doing the double major is great because it will open up career options for me when I enter the workforce later,” Miss Huriwai said.

She is currently living at home with her parents while studying, and said she continues to encourage them to live more sustainably as well, helping to reduce the family’s waste.

“It’s just little things. Like I got my mum those reusable produce bags to use. We’re always looking for how we can do things more sustainably. Every little bit helps.”

Miss Huriwai is one of nine recipients of the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship, supported by Waikato Regional Council and Waikato-Tainui. She received $1000 towards the first year of her study for a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Environmental Science and Ecology and Biodiversity.

The scholarships were established in 1991 to mark the 25th anniversary of Te Atairangikaahu becoming Māori queen, to pay tribute to her leadership and help Māori studying at the University of Waikato.

Latest stories

Related stories

2020 New Professors

University of Waikato announces new professorial appointments

Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley has recently acknowledged new Professors and Associate Professors of the University.

It's time to care about our insects

Dr Chrissie Painting, along with 70 other researchers from 21 countries, are calling for immediate…

Louis Schipper & Vic Arcus

Waikato researchers aim to find out what happens to life as the world heats up

A large research project that seeks to understand how biology responds to increasing temperature could…

Waikato Volcanologist confirms volcano and secures international conference in 2019

University of Waikato volcanologist, Dr Adrian Pittari, led a team that recently found evidence confirming…

 Dr Alison Campbell

Science educator named Honorary Fellow by the University of Waikato

A long-standing University of Waikato academic and science communicator has been named an Honorary Fellow…

Leading Plant Physiologist Professor Margaret Barbour welcomed as Dean of Science at University of Waikato

Professor Margaret Barbour has been welcomed as the new Dean of Science at a whakatau…

Michèle Prinsep

Waikato academic ranked in top one per cent in the world for research citations

A University of Waikato researcher who identifies compounds in marine species which could be used…

Professor Troy Baisden

Professor named new president of the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS)

Professor Troy Baisden, who is based in School of Science at the University of Waikato,…

Sharna McCleary

Science student uses mushrooms to help clean up Whakatāne canal

Oyster mushrooms are helping to clean up an historically contaminated timber processing site in Whakatāne,…

Project to investigate earthquake frequency and activity on Hamilton’s faults

Newly discovered hidden faults in Hamilton, an area once thought devoid of any active faults,…

Award-winning Waikato student researching wave power for sustainable energy

A University of Waikato PhD student plans to harness the power of New Zealand’s coastlines…

Lead researcher Prof Albert Bifet

Waikato Data Scientists awarded $13 million

Data scientists at the University of Waikato have been awarded $13 million from the Government.