Blake NIWA Ambassadaors


Who: Ages 18 - 25
Where: NZ and aboard ship
When: Varying dates, Nov 2017 - Feb 2018
Cost: Medical clearances
Deadline: 30 June, 2017

What: This year there will be three Blake NIWA Ambassador Programmes available encompassing climate, atmospheric, ocean and freshwater sciences. Details of each programme are described below.

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.



Blake NIWA Ambassadors – Oceans

Location: RV Tangaroa

Voyage Location & Area of Focus: The 2018 survey will be the 25th survey in the Chatham Rise trawl time series using RV Tangaroa. Surveys were carried out annually from 1992 2014, and biennially since. This is the most comprehensive time series of species abundance at water depths of 200 to 800 m in New Zealand’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Chatham Rise surveys provide relative biomass estimates of adult and juvenile hoki. Hoki is New Zealand’s largest finfish fishery, with a current catch limit of 150 000 t. Hoki is assessed as two stocks, western and eastern. The current hypothesis is that juveniles from both stocks mix on the Chatham Rise and recruit to their respective stocks as they approach sexual maturity. The Chatham Rise is also the principal residence area for the hoki that spawn in Cook Strait and off the east coast South Island in winter (eastern stock). Annual catches of hoki on the Chatham Rise peaked at over 75 000 t in 1997–98 and 1998–99, then decreased to a low of 30 700 t in 2004–05, before increasing again from 2008–09 to 2011–12. The catch from the Chatham Rise in 2013–14 was 33 800 t, making this the second largest hoki fishery in the EEZ (behind the west coast South Island), and contributing about 23% of the total New Zealand hoki catch. To manage the hoki fishery and minimise potential risks, it is important to have some predictive ability concerning recruitment into the fishery. Extensive sampling throughout the EEZ has shown that the Chatham Rise is the main nursery ground for hoki aged 2 to 4 years. Abundance estimation of 2+ hoki on the Chatham Rise provides the best index of potential recruitment to the adult fisheries. The continuation of the time series of trawl surveys on the Chatham Rise is therefore a high priority to provide information required to update the assessment of hoki.

Particular skills sought/qualifications: marine science background preferable, willing to be at sea for up to 4 weeks.

Time frame: 4 January - 3 February 2018


Blake NIWA Ambassadors – Fresh Water

Location: Christchurch


The awards primary focus is freshwater data collection. Join NIWA science teams and become engaged in the day-to-day activities of environmental monitoring in South Island freshwater systems. Learn how the data collected are analysed, and how environmental models are operated, and how this information is used to deliver excellent science that benefits all of New Zealand.

A strong background in either geography, biology, engineering or physics is required with a keen interest in freshwater. Preferably also comfortable with physical activity, as well as numerate with good computer skills. Strong team player, personable with good written and oral communication skills.


The Ambassador will assist with environmental monitoring in the field, lab and with data quality management and analyses.

Time frame: Late November 2017 - February 2018


Blake NIWA Ambassadors – Atmosphere and climate

Location: Wellington and Lauder

The awards primary focus is field measurements of climate and atmospheric variables.

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.

Numerate with computer skills and keen interest in atmospheric composition and/or climate variability and change. Strong team player, personable with good communication skills.

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 2016, 3-4 weeks. 1 week in Lauder and 2-3 weeks in Wellington.



Still need convincing?

You can read about a former NIWA Ambassador's experience HERE