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Meet Heni Unwin

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Job: 

Kairangahau/ Researcher at Cawthron Institute.

Job description: 

I work in the Māori research business & development team as well as the Coastal & Freshwater team. My main role is to help implement Mātauranga Māori into science projects.

Work background: 

I studied Chemistry, Marine Science and Māori at University. I then moved to Australia and was a Dive Instructor on the Great Barrier Reef for two years before moving home. In New Zealand, I worked in a trace elements lab analysing milk products and did some surveying at the fishing docks collecting Kahawai heads. I have now moved to Nelson to work at Cawthron Institute as a researcher.

Favourite part of job: 

The favourite part of my job is I get to learn and try out different things every day. I also love incorporating Māori into science and seeing how they can benefit each other.

Least favourite part of job: 

Mussel poo! In the lab you have to handle mussels and their waste.

What I am working on now: 

I currently work on three projects in two National Science challenges, Sustainable Seas and Science for Technological Innovation. We have been working on tidal wave energy, mussel monitoring and a website that will show you where your plastic goes in the ocean.

A quick story about a job well done: 

I was working with a teacher on how we could get 16 mussels connected to sensors. There were a lot of issues and obstacles in the way but four hours later we had worked through every problem and attached all 16 mussels.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

I was speaking at a conference and pressed the button for the next slide. The whole screen switched off! I was pressing every button on the remote I had to turn it back on and it finally came back, I found my slide and kept talking. What I learned is to really watch what your doing.

Qualifications: 
  • BSc in Chemistry and Māori from Otago University
  • Graddip in Marine Science University of Auckland
  • Diploma in Marine Studies from Bay of Plenty Polytech
Interests outside work: 

Diving, reading and going on road trips.


Heni Unwin is a Kairangahau / Researcher at the Cawthron Institute. Image: Supplied.