Te Pūnaha Matatini was able to offer New Zealand university students paid 10-week internship positions over the 2018-19 summer, which involved working on projects with various partner organisations.
Out of a total of 160 undergrad and postgrad students from across the country who applied for the programme, 29 were successful and placed at 11 partner organisations – including government ministries, iwi organisations and private companies.
Although the students had a wide range of backgrounds, they all had one thing in common – a passion to change the world through data and its applications and contexts.
“This programme provides students with invaluable data analytics experience and new perspectives while working for organisations in a real-world setting,” said Dr Alex James, Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Deputy Director of Industry and Stakeholder Engagement.
“Through its student internship programme, Te Pūnaha Matatini is able to engage with partners to complete small-scale projects with defined outcomes, develop relationship networks, and introduce talented students to potential employers.”
“This programme provides students with invaluable data analytics experience and new perspectives while working for organisations in a real-world setting.”
Now in its fourth year of operation, the 2018-19 programme featured an excellent variety of projects, and the overall feedback from both students and industry stakeholders was very positive.
Streamlining the process of social network analysis at AgResearch
University of Canterbury Masters of Applied Data Science student Romalee Amolic (pictured above) spent the summer in Hamilton working with scientists at AgResearch, helping develop a tool to streamline survey data for social network analysis.
In addition to providing a much-needed tool for AgResearch, Romalee is now working out how to commercialise her software so more people can take advantage of it.
“From our perspective, we got exactly what we’d hoped for, which was a new viewpoint and different expertise from what we may have normally recruited,” said Helen Percy of AgResearch, Romalee’s supervisor.
Vision Mātauranga in partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei
Brianne Halbert (left) and Megan Leijh (right), who are both at the University of Auckland, worked together on a project that is part of an ongoing research partnership between Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Te Pūnaha Matatini.
Led by their supervisor Kate Hannah, Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Deputy Director, Equity and Diversity, and Dion O’Neale, a Te Pūnaha Matatini Principal Investigator, the ‘He waka eke noa’ project combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies to work with iwi and hapū data, centralising Māori data sovereignty.
An important goal of our internship programme is to have students with complementary skill sets working together. That was certainly the case for Bri and Megan. Bri is undertaking a double major in Computer and Data Science, while Megan is completing a conjoint Law (Hons) and Arts degree in political philosophy, law and politics.
“While these disciplines may appear vastly different, we were able to find a lot of overlap and even harmony in our exploration of inclusive education for Māori,” wrote Bri and Megan in a subsequent co-authored blog.
“From the outset, a major goal was to utilise our respective disciplines for research while keeping the essence of te Ao Māori alive throughout. Thus, we incorporated kupu o te wiki, watched Te Kaea and participated in a lot of korero”.
Working with Te Hiku Media to improve access to Te Reo Māori
Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics at the University of Canterbury, Cherie Vasta (pictured above), worked with both Te Hiku Media and Dragonfly Data Science on a project to aid in the development of a Māori voice assistant.
The tool is designed to make Te Reo Māori more accessible and fun in the digital age At the completion of Cherie’s internship, the project was documented and all the code uploaded online to allow other developers at Te Hiku Media to progress it further and demonstrate the abilities of the Rāpere box.
“I got a great feeling of accomplishment from my work,” said Cherie. “I’m grateful to Te Pūnaha Matatini for connecting me with Te Hiku Media and providing me with the opportunity to have this internship.”
Further details about individual projects
Following the completion of their placements, several interns were invited to blog about their experiences on the Te Pūnaha Matatini website.