February 2, 2024

A reflection from 23/24 Summer intern Zoë Willem-Pritchard

Kia ora, I am the 2023/24 Summer Intern at Kaipara Moana Remediation.

I was born and raised in Whangārei and moved to Wellington for Uni in 2022. When I applied for the internship with KMR I was just finishing my second year at Victoria University of Wellington, where I am working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies, International Relations, and Political Science.

Knowing it’s difficult as a young person to go straight from uni into the workforce with nothing to bridge that gap but part time student jobs, I was looking for a summer internship to make the most of my time away from uni. The KMR Summer Internship was a great opportunity/way for me to get hands on experience in my field of study while earning money and not having it interfere with classes. It allowed me to use the knowledge I have gained so far from my studies, increased my confidence in my own abilities and was an environment where I was encouraged and supported to learn new things.

I had lots of freedom with what I was working on and worked primarily under the umbrella of Communications and Engagement. I remember my first day I was asked what I wanted to work on! We came up with some projects, created a plan and away we went – I got to work creatively, making brochures and visual aids for briefings, as well as getting stuck into other content like articles and personal profiles on the people KMR works with. The variety of the work meant that I gained new practical skills as well as learning about the Kaipara Moana Remediation programme itself and the environmental, economic and spiritual value of the place I am from. A lot of the time I was creating content for people outside of KMR so I was dealing with facts about the programme and got to see the figures change as progress was made.

Through the ‘Development Studies’ portion of my degree I have been studying Māori culture and political systems. KMR was a great place to see how a commitment to co-governance is vital, especially in environmental, community lead work. I was able to attend one of the Joint Committee meetings, which really showcased the success of this way of doing things. I look forward to sharing my KMR experiences and being able to apply them to other areas of my studies.

2024 is my last year of study and the hope is that it leads me into work similar to that of KMR. I’ve only been with KMR for four months and have learnt more about the Kaipara Moana than I did in the 18 years I lived here! While any and all mahi that improves the state of our environment is vital, doing that mahi in the place you’re from is extra special.

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