Samantha Collings

I have grown up around the water and coasts, with a strong passion and awareness for environmental conservation and the effects of our actions on the environment. From a young age I have wanted to be involved with the environment and continue to aspire to how I can contribute to conservation in the future. I have a passion for the marine and coastal environment; so have grown up with the ideas being a tidy kiwi and a conscious consumer.

I saw university as an opportunity to further my knowledge and awareness of scientific issues. One issue I had not heard of before university was the issue of micro plastics in cleansers. These accumulate in marine organisms up the food chain and cause starvation and pollution. Being aware of such issues is important to me as now I can change my behaviour to ensure I am not contributing to problems. University has seen me take conservation biology courses and go on field trips, which involve completing State of the Environment reports, Biodiversity Management plans, and also conservational fieldwork such as weeding in important community areas. Lastly university has shown me that others are also interested in our environment - student groups such as Generation Zero, Help Green our Uni, and Plastic Diet have been advertised and it exciting to have opportunities to get involved.

My upbringing has meant I have been surrounded by water. In general my family have had an interest in the outdoors so I have been able to explore New Zealand and our range of habitats - primarily in Northland, which fuelled my love of camping, and appreciating nature. We are a keen water-orientated family so I've been lucky to have adventuring opportunities from a young age just through exposure. My family love boating so I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time on the water and feel most comfortable around the sea. As my whānau are from Northland we regularly head up to either the Bay of Islands or Tutukaka throughout the year and it is amazing what these areas have to offer in terms of exploring. One year whilst camping on Urupukapuka Island as kids we helped DOC rangers move sheep across the island, which was an interesting first experience to the work of DOC.

In terms of qualifications I have received a Māori Summer Studentship with Plant and Food Research - focusing on TMAO levels of New Zealand finfish, and a 2014 Undergraduate Ministry for Primary Industries Scholarship in Quantitative Marine Biology, and the Rose Hellaby Maori Education Scholarship for young leaders of tomorrow in the scientific fields.

Samantha Collings worked with the Department of Conservation and the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust on their yellow-eyed penguin conservation programme as a 2014 Blake DOC Ambassador.