Prestigious Scholarship Awarded to Young Environmentalist

A North Canterbury teenager will be able to further her dreams of tertiary education after being awarded one of three $18,000 scholarships.

Miriam Clark, from Hawarden, is now off to the University of Canterbury to study commerce, particularly business management, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

Clark was head girl of Hurunui College in 2017 and took a gap year this year, during which she represented Canterbury as one of 18 young leaders to join a Young Blake Expedition with the RNZ Navy and Sir Peter Blake Trust in the Kermadec Islands conducting climate and marine research.

"I couldn't believe I got selected for that either – it was a once in a  lifetime experience, it is just so pristine, it was a great opportunity.

"It was so great to be working alongside the experts, analysing samples under the microscope and seeing them get excited about it too."

Clark has had a keen interest in the environment since a young age and has been involved with the Hurunui College Nina Valley Restoration Group since the age of 10, trapping pests which pose a threat to native flora and fauna.

In April last year she was selected to help the Department of Conservation (DOC) in Arthur's Pass catch kiwi ready to be relocated to the Nina Valley.

Clark is also the founder of Projekt Pukeko

"After attending the Youth EnviroLeaders forum in 2016 I was so inspired by my experience that I came back to my community and started my own conservation restoration project at the local swamp. I trap invasive predators using DOC200 systems and have a goal to bring back the native wildlife population, including the pukeko which once flourished 10 years ago."

A member of DOC's Growing Voices, Clark took part in the first ever youth conservation platform which gives young people the opportunity to get involved in intergenerational decision making, leading to a youth submission to the Aoraki Conservation Management Plan.

Clark also co-wrote Moko's Book: Celebrating Biodiversity in the Hurunui District; and award-winning brochure West Coast Green Gecko.

The scholarship programme was established in 2017 to honour the values and professional contribution of former BNZ board chairman and PwC managing partner John Waller.

For five years, BNZ and PwC will fund three competitive scholarships a year to school leavers choosing to study commerce, science or law at the University of Canterbury. Each student receives $18,000, as well as summer internships at BNZ and PwC.