I took the elevator to the ground floor of the Forbes building to find that the dining area and bookstore were closed.
Of course, I just walked over to another part of campus to eat elsewhere. After looking through the space between two doors I concluded that there just weren’t any classes that week. Now, given that I didn’t know this until halfway through the week, you can imagine how much time I spend up at my workstation.
This year is all about the thesis for me. It means no academic classes or tests, but plenty of time at a computer and monthly visits to the local zone committee meetings.
It also means reading, writing, reading more, re-writing, correcting, and more reading; which really is much more interesting than it sounds!
I attend meetings that concern the governance of Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora and the path the community wants to follow to restore it to better health.
These can often get intense as New Zealand’s unique Treaty of Waitangi has fed two very different world views for generations. Professionally, I find all this governance discussion very interesting but personally, I enjoy the views and conversations about different concepts that are unfamiliar to me.
I am a long way from home in Ohio, yet some of those values I grew up with still reach around the globe.
There was no Lake Ellesmere back home, however, so I have to learn as much as I can about its biophysical aspects as well.
The lake has gone through countless ecological phases including a river delta, a lagoon, and even a brackish lake. Currently, the lake is actually opened a few times each year to drain it into the ocean to prevent flooding farmland and to allow for fish passage in and out of the habitat. The system is so complex and dynamic it makes for difficult solutions and that’s before you look into the socio-economic side of things!
Needless to say, my advisors have been a great help and all provide different perspectives.
- One is from BOKU in Vienna, Austria. He provides an international view and makes sure I am writing to people who are not familiar with the situation.
- Two local professors provide contrast as well. One helped write some of the policy I am studying; the other owns land near the lake and is involved with the local trust.
As someone who came here knowing nothing about the culture, I have had to put in extra work to really try to understand the history of New Zealand.
This week I am working on interview questions for committee members and those involved with the governance of Lake Ellesmere. It is from their talks and answers that I hope to find the most substantial evidence for my thesis.
Whatever it is you’re studying, get the local knowledge!
– Kendrick Chittock