Whitney’s interest in marine science grew from a young age where she remembers snorkelling at Te Whanganui-a-hei marine reserve and exploring local native bush. She became involved in ecological restoration projects through volunteering for the Conservation Company and on Tiritiri Matangi Island. She studied a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Marine science, where she held a Chancellor’s award for top Māori scholars and tutored biology courses in the universities Tuakana Programme. She received a Conservation International Award for her academic achievements and passion for marine science.
She completed a summer research scholarship at Leigh Marine Laboratory, involving analysing marine bioacoustic data and writing a report for the Hector’s and Māui dolphin threat management plan review. Māui are the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world, being listed as critically endangered. Whitney continues to work with Associate Professor Craig Radford and the Department of Conservation in ongoing acoustic monitoring for the conservation of Māui.
Whitney plans to use her experience as a BLAKE Ambassador to educate people about marine conservation and inspire them to be involved in environmental restoration projects.