Student internships

Te Pūnaha Matatini is the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for complex systems, with researchers and students based across the country. We coordinate an internship scheme for partner organisations including iwi, ministries, government departments, and private companies.

If you are from an organisation that is interested in collaborating with us on future internships, get in touch at

Internships currently available

Internship evaluating STEM initiatives in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland


Meet our interns from the 2023-24 summer

Arwyn Whaanga | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

Tena koe
Ko Taranaki te maunga
Ko Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Kahungunu me Ngāti Rongomaiwahine ōku iwi
Ko Arwyn Hinetu Whaanga tōku ingoa

In 2024 I will be entering my third year as an Environmental Science and Global Studies student at the University of Auckland. I am passionate about nature, animal rights, space, systemic justice, knowledge production, ethics, and the power of art – just to name a few. In this summer project I am part of a team that will undertake a systemic review about the relationship between science and mātauranga. What these terms mean, how they are used and referred to, the nature of these conversations, and who it is that is driving the kōrero about these knowledge baskets, are all questions that our project is interested in.

I am super excited to dip my toes into the world of research with this project, and can’t wait to see what we uncover and what we can contribute to Aotearoa, the science community and Māori around the motu.

Halavaka Chapman | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

Fakaalofa lahi atu, my name is Halavaka. My name comes from my homeland, Niue, a small island nation in the Pacific. In Niue it means literally ‘way of the canoe’ or navigator in English. This name is significant to me as it has helped guide me through my ocean of triumphs and tribulations.

I am concluding my final year of undergrad majoring in Psychology and Sociology at Waipapa Taumata Rau — University of Auckland.

Over the summer, I will be fortunate enough to work on a project with Te Pūnaha Matatini led by Richard Arnold and Rebecca Priestley at Victoria University of Wellington to investigate trust in science. My summer project will explore how Pacific people perceive science in Aotearoa, with Krushil Watene and Sereana Naepi. The purpose of my research is to identify potential (cultural) factors that drive (or impede) Pacific people to engage with the current health system, and to understand how trust may play a role in that.

I am hoping that this project will provide valuable leads and insights for further research grappling with the complex relationships Pacific communities have with and through the current health system as well as with science more generally.

Tiana Marshall | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

I am a BA/BAdvSci(Hons) student at the University of Auckland studying Cognitive Neuroscience, Art History, and Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology.

Jaiya Bharti and I are working on an archaeological research project this summer to support Alex Queenin’s PhD and the ongoing Ahuahu Archaeological Project, which both Alex and our supervisor, Professor Thegn Ladefoged, are involved in. Alex’s PhD, some of Thegn’s work on Ahuahu, and by extension our project fall under the Te Pūnaha Matatini project Kaitiakitanga and the ecodynamics of early Māori horticulture.

We are completing three weeks of fieldwork on Ahuahu, which includes excavating, vibracoring and surveying, as well as lab work consisting of core logging, subsampling, wet sieving, particle analysis, and microscopy to identify organic materials present in cores.

Jaiya Bharti | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

Kia ora, I’m Jaiya and I have just finished my Bachelor of Science in Anthropological Science at the University of Auckland. This summer I will be working with my supervisors, Professor Thegn Ladefoged and PhD Student Alex Queenin, as well as my lab partner Tiana Marshall, to complete palaeoenvironmental and geoarchaeological analysis of sediment samples collected from Ahuahu Great Mercury Island.

The aim of our project is to further the understanding of the pre-human and human palaeoenvironment of Ahuahu Island through an examination of a series of vibracores collected from an early Māori cultivation zone. In doing so, we will be investigating how the area was modified by the intentional and unintentional actions of people. Ultimately this project will contribute to the larger project looking at Kaitiakitanga and the ecodynamics of early Māori horticulture.

I’m looking forward to spending the summer in the lab doing analysis, and I am very interested to see the results of our research, specifically what it shows us about how Māori interacted with and modified the Ahuahu island environment.

Jordan Phillips | University of Auckland

Kia ora koutou. Ko Jordan tōku ingoa. Nō Whaingaroa me Matangirau ōku tīpuna. Kei te noho au ki Tamaki Makaurau. My name is Jordan and I am a Philosophy student at the University of Auckland pursuing my Honours in 2024. I am a bit of a late bloomer being husband, father and having a decade of experience in the workforce before I entered into undergraduate studies back in 2020. My summer project is exploring the relationship between mātauranga Māori and science, looking at ways we can enhance the conversation to garner trust between practitioners, scientists and the wider public. I think this project matters because I believe nuanced insights on these topics can help bridge gaps, encourage fruitful dialogue, and challenge bad ideas in order to contribute positively to the discourse.

Zainab Rizvi | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

Zainab is a PhD student in Engineering Science at the University of Auckland. She is working on Energy Systems’ digital transformation. Her interests lie in Information Systems, just digital transformation and energy systems. She is also a PMI-certified Agile Project Manager. This summer Zainab is working on a project with Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Department of Exercise Sciences (University of Auckland), Te Toka Tumai Auckland, and Te Whatu Ora Waikato. The project’s aim is to enhance the Auckland Coronary Care Unit’s (CCU) Early Warning System (EWS) using statistical and machine learning tools.

Jared Clarke | University of Auckland

Hey, I’m Jared, a conjoint Engineering Science and Economics student at the University of Auckland.  Coming off doing my Engineering Honours project on Unity virtual reality modelling of football matches, my summer internship will look to further the Unity implementation of virtual reality displays of a flood model, following on from some work already done by my supervisor Associate Professor Michael O’Sullivan.

The primary motivation and goal of my work on this project is to improve the performance of the virtual representation of flooding to allow for its smooth display, even on the relatively limited processing power of a VR headset. The hope is that this model will allow for easy visualisation of potential flooding and the impacts of considered flood resilience measures, and that this subsequently allows for greater consultation of and communication with communities that allows for greater understanding, notably without any need for technical knowledge. Additional focus will be given to making improvements to the realism and accuracy of the physics incorporated into the model, with a look to ultimately verifying the results against data from the Auckland flooding in early 2023.

Madeleine Barber-Wilson | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

Hi, I’m Maddie and I am currently a third year BSc student at the University of Auckland, majoring in Applied Mathematics. This summer I am studying mathematical models of lake health as part of a project headed by my supervisor Associate Professor Graham Donovan in collaboration with Dr Matiu Prebble and his summer student at the University of Canterbury.

Shallow lakes are known to undergo abrupt transitions between a cloudy, polluted state with frequent algal blooms and a clear, healthy state based on changes in underlying conditions such as phosphorus levels. These critical transitions can be modelled mathematically, and our goal is to use a model to find mathematical early warning signals of changes in state for Wairewa/Lake Forsyth. This lake has particular significance as it is a customary eel fishery for Ngāi Tahu, so restoring its health means protecting a source of mātauranga and kai for iwi and hapū of the rohe.

I’m excited to be putting my maths skills to work in the real world and am hoping that the results of our project will be helpful for future kaitiaki of the lake.

Tavake Tohi | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Canterbury

Malo e lelei my name is Tavake and I hail from the Kingdom of Tonga. I am currently studying geography and environmental science at the University of Canterbury where I will be finishing up my last semester in 2024.

I have the privilege of working with Matiu Prebble on Wairewa (Lake Forsyth) and over the summer we will be conducting water quality monitoring of the lake along with examining other aspects of lake health. The results will provide a better understanding of the current state of Wairewa as well as help make informed decisions regarding the canal opening regime.

I am looking forward to applying my GIS skills in addition to developing and enhancing my skillset through this experience.

Mahin Panchia | University of Auckland

Hi! I’m Mahin, and I have just finished my second year in Engineering, specialising in Engineering Science. This summer I am working on enhancing practical conceptual modelling tools that have been developed to assist in the use of, and improve compliance with a previously made conceptual modelling standard. The tools enable electronic representation of the conceptual model, which is essentially abstracted from the real world situation. There is potential to demonstrate the effective use of the tools and to extend them to enable various output viewpoints and formats.

Jinglong Zhu | Te Pūnaha Matatini | University of Auckland

I’m Jinglong Zhu, a data science student at the University of Auckland. I have a great passion for photography, badminton and skiing.

I am excited to start my internship at Te Pūnaha Matatini this summer. I will be collecting and editing publication data from Te Pūnaha Matatini’s principal investors. In addition, I will be working on survey building and other data work. The final goal of my effort is to contribute to Te Pūnaha Matatini’s 2023 Annual Report.

I hope my work can build a more automated and efficient data collection and organisation process and have a positive impact on the production of future annual reports.

Liam Gibson smiles in a checked shirt.

Liam Gibson | Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori | Māori Language Commission

Liam is a PhD student at the University of Canterbury studying Computational and Applied Mathematics. He grew up in Christchurch, and enjoys tramping, reading, weightlifting, and drawing. Liam’s thesis focuses on gender representation in academia. Namely, investigating individual-level factors influencing the institutional retention, and promotion, of women. Thus far, age and parental leave have been investigated.

Over the summer, Liam is participating in a studentship at Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Kannemeyer and Luisa Beltran-Castillon, from Kōtātā Insight. Using the longitudinal Growing Up in New Zealand dataset, Liam is helping investigate intergenerational language acquisition and transmission. This work builds on Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori’s large individual-based model, forecasting national te reo Māori fluency.