Student interns tackle research projects over summer

2 March 2015

Students from Victoria University kept busy over summer with internships offered through the Our Living City project.

A kereru mid-flight.

© Tony Stoddard 2014/Kererū Discovery


Among them was Anni Brumby, a third-year ecology and biodiversity student whose work focussed on The Great Kererū Count (GKC), an annual event organised by the Kererū Discovery Project.

The GKC took place from 22 September to 5 October 2014 nationwide. Volunteers tracked kererū sightings and observations in order to estimate their numbers. 

The kererū, also known as the New Zealand pigeon, is a native bird protected in New Zealand due to its “near threatened” conservation status. The population is in gradual decline through habitat loss, predation, competition and illegal hunting.

As part of her internship, Anni reviewed the information gathered from 2014’s GKC and gave recommendations for future citizen science projects. She focussed on the usefulness of the information for scientific purposes, and looked at how engaged participants felt with the project.

In total, 14,086 kererū were observed during the 2014 GKC and their primary food source was identified as kowhai. A participation survey resulted in mostly very good associated with the GKC project, and a large proportion felt that it was important the information gathered went towards scientific purposes.

Other internships undertaken by Victoria University students also focussed on the environment. They included monitoring Zealandia’s pest-controlled zone; examining the impact of climate-change upon people’s housing choices; researching the barriers to local food production; and establishing the possibility of a mobile app to enhance the visitor experience at the Wellington Botanic Garden.

A result of collaboration between Victoria University of Wellington’s Summer Scholars programme and Wellington City Council, the internships run annually from December to February. They provide an opportunity for post-graduate students to gain real-world exposure to their field of study and interests.