Detecting movement in a hatching kiwi egg, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Image: Sabine Bernert | ©


New technology and data analysis projects stand out in this year’s successful DOC scholarship applications, reinforcing their potential to supercharge the monitoring and restoration of Aotearoa New Zealand’s biodiversity.

Date:  22 February 2024

Eight students have been awarded DOC Post-graduate Scholarships in the fourth scholarship funding round since the programme began in 2020.

DOC Chief Science Advisor Michael Bunce says he’s delighted to see the diversity of conservation science coming out of these Masters scholarships each year.

“There’s never a shortage of excellent graduate research projects to consider. It was a tough job, narrowing the field down to eight. This year we were particularly on the lookout for projects that aligned with our long-term insights briefing which focused on harnessing the power of emerging technology in conservation ”

Research projects with a hi-tech focus include eDNA (analysis of DNA found in the environment) projects on lizards and sea sponges, and remote sensing, (such as the use of satellite technology) of subantarctic toroa/albatross species.

As evidence increases on the importance of wetland health, it’s significant that one of the DOC scholarship projects focuses on examining the fungal diversity in wetland forests by bridging mātauranga Māori and ecological restoration.

“Together with our partners at the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Environmental Protection Agency, I extend my congratulations to the eight successful applicants and look forward to seeing how their research can assist with conservation across Aotearoa.”

The scholarships are worth up to $15,000 each. DOC has funded six of these scholarships and partnered with Tiakina Kauri– the Kauri Protection Agency within Biosecurity New Zealand, and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) who funded one additional scholarship each.  

DOC Postgraduate Scholarship 2023 recipients



Research topic 

Sarah Bishop

Tiakina Kauri recipient

Auckland University of Technology

Collaboratively developing cultural indicators for environmental forest health monitoring in Te Wao Nui ā Tiriwā

Tere Porter-Rawiri Environmental Protection Authority recipient

Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington

Unravelling fungal diversity in wetland forests: Bridging mātauranga Māori and ecological restoration

Nakita Daniel

University of Auckland

Whiria te tāngata; whiria te mātauranga, arriving at Mōhiotanga: Developing a monitoring framework for the Noises Island High Protection Area (HPA)

Ella Dewar

University of Otago

Under-appreciated and over-looked: Mapping the identity, diversity and eDNA context of New Zealand’s freshwater sponges

Cassie Mealay

University of Otago

Proof of Concept – Can terrestrial eDNA detect Lizards in a New Zealand landscape?

Natalie Taufa

University of Waikato

Ecological interactions between the sub-tropical urchin Centrostephanus rodgersi, the native Evechinus chloroticus and possible implications on rocky reef ecosystems

Oscar Thomas

University of Otago

Movement ecology and plumage variation of the critically endangered tūturiwhatu/southern New Zealand dotterel

Theo Thompson

University of Otago

Modelling breeding success and enhancing our remote sensing ability for four subantarctic toroa species


For media enquiries contact:


Back to top