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Te Riria Potiki

Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship

Key Info

Iwi:
Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāi Tahu/Kāi Tahu, Ngāi Tūhoe

Qualification(s):
  • Bachelor of Environmental Planning
Subject(s):
  • Te Ara Taiao: Māori and the Environment

Riding horses in Tūrangi, and swimming in Lake Taupō and the Tongariro River as a child, Te Riria Potiki (Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāi Tahu/Kāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūhoe) has always been passionate about the environment.

In her final year at the University of Waikato studying a Bachelor of Environmental Planning in Te Ara Taiao: Māori and the Environment, it was important that Te Riria used her studies to draw upon and acknowledge the Māori worldview (te ao Māori).

“With all the changes in the resource management system and co-governance structures, it’s cool to see te ao Māori being acknowledged,” Te Riria says.

She hopes to use the skills she gains in her degree to help iwi and hapū protect and sustain their surrounding environment from the ongoing impacts of urban development.

Te Riria works for Beca, one of the largest employee-owned professional services consultancy firms in the Asia-Pacific, which is part of the five to 10-year review and strategy on Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato.

This year, for the third time, Te Riria received the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship, awarded by the Waikato Regional Council and Waikato-Tainui. The scholarship supports students to undertake full-time undergraduate study at the University with a focus on resource management or environmental protection.

“This scholarship has provided me with amazing opportunities and networks. It’s so cool that there are opportunities like this that encourage students to go down this path.

“We need more Māori in this space, supporting each other. It can be disheartening to see the degradation of our environment and te ao Māori worldview not being validated. But there’s heaps of change happening, so it’s cool to be a part of.”

As part of her study, Te Riria did an internship with a Māori consulting firm, helping mitigate the environmental impacts of a proposal to discharge wastewater into the Rotorua Lakes.

“It was really eye-opening and awesome to be part of the process and see how it works, and because development is only going to continue, it’s really important to work as best as we can to mitigate any potential effect that might have on our environment.”

She also works for the University’s Future Students team, tutoring first and third-year environmental planning papers.

“I really enjoyed my time at Waikato, I recommend this University to everyone. It has a strong Māori student community and a strong community in general.

“It’s nice being at a smaller university, everyone knows everyone and wants you to succeed.”

  • The Bachelor of Environmental Planning is a multidisciplinary, research-led four-year degree that is divided into three streams: science and the environment, society and the environment, and Te Ara Taiao: Māori and the Environment. Check out more here.

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