Sheldon Werner Summer Studentships 2023/2024

Lichens: conservation of the overlooked but not forgotten 


Lichens are both diverse in Aotearoa/New Zealand and relatively poorly served with research and conservation management initiatives. Many species are so poorly studied that they are considered ‘Data Deficient’. Many of these Data Deficient lichens lie undetected in herbarium collections, sometimes unidentified to species level, left behind in taxonomic name changes, or stuck in confusing species complexes. This project involves the identification of the lichen collections in the Auckland Museum herbarium that may be Data Deficient taxa (including specimens only identified to genus level). Once identified, those found in the Auckland region will be compiled into a list for national and regional threat classification in 2024. The successful student would be supported to select one or more species to examine in more depth. Understanding the lichens of the Auckland region better will benefit all landowners/custodians of land. Many of the key lichen collections will have come from the Waitākere Ranges, and this project would be an opportunity to work with Te Kawerau ā Maki (mana whenua for much of that area) and learn about basic cultural competency and building relationships with hapū/iwi.  

This project will be best suited to a student with:   

  • Skills in Excel and an ability to work with collections database (or learn it)  

  • General research skills 

  • Ability to use stereo and compound microscopes  

  • Good botanical knowledge 

Community led biosecurity surveillance of marine pest fishes 


This project aims to Improve aquatic surveillance capability in Northland and provide proof of concept for citizen science in biosecurity. The selected student will lead the testing of surveillance and trapping techniques in east Northland estuaries, to target a new-to-New Zealand fish, contribute to community led biosecurity surveillance and assess gut content of target species to inform impacts. This project includes collaborations with mana whenua, community groups and Biosecurity New Zealand (MPI) staff to gain field test trapping and surveillance techniques including Mātauranga Māori techniques for use in community surveillance.  

This project will be best suited to a student with:   

  • Interest in Mātauranga Māori or connection to Northland iwi/hapū (ideal but not a necessity). Interest and or passion for biosecurity and the protection of New Zealand’s native taonga species.  

  • Tertiary background in biological/environmental or earth sciences (aquatic, fishes, biosecurity, or ecological sciences preferred).  

  • High competence in social and communicative skills, with the ability to build relationships and work with different groups, organizations, cultures, and stakeholders.  

  • The project will involve fieldwork, moderate fitness levels will be required.  

History and Impact of Marine Advocacy in Aotearoa 


The last marine protected area in NZ was established ten years ago and NZ is not fulfilling its commitment to international obligations to ocean protection. In this project the student will review, analyse, summarise and report on the impact and efficacy of the last 10 years of advocacy and guardianship efforts for our oceans through a contemporary lens and a te ao Māori perspective. This will include undertaking a review of government and local actions, media coverage, and Matauranga Māori approaches. This project highlights the role that kaitiaki and matauranga Māori play in marine protection efforts and how guardianship has evolved.  

This project will be best suited to a student with:   

  • Research and reporting skills 

  • An interest in advocacy, marine protection and historical analysis  

  • Attention to detail and ability to analyze an array of content to produce a balanced and visually engaging report.  

Rehousing the numismatics collection 


This project will involve rehousing The Museums numismatics collection into polypropylene sleeves and sorting it by collection/region for future study and digitisation. It will also establish a count of how many coins are in the collection. The numismatics collection is of significance and has been identified for further research / improved storage. This summer studentship will provide the necessary initial work and the range of tasks. The successful applicant will gain knowledge of the extent and range of objects in the numismatics collection allowing for future research involving the collection including, the possibility of a 2024 MA thesis involving research on Greek and Roman coins.  


This project will be best suited to a student with:   

  • Skills in Excel and meticulous attention to detail 

  • Research skills around historical collections including Ancient Greece and Rome  

  • Planning to undertake a MA in Ancient History on the Auckland Museum numismatics collection in 2024 

Wikipedia and the Aotearoa NZ Histories Curriculum 


This project will train a cohort of up to four Wikipedia Interns to undertake the creation, editing and enhancement of Auckland local history and suburb pages so that Wikipedia can be used by teachers and students across Tamaki Makaurau for the new Aotearoa NZ Histories Curriculum. The project is based on previous research the Museum has undertaken around the viability of Wikipedia as a learning resource and is part of our current Wikimedia Foundation Funded project, Understanding our past: using Wikipedia as a tool to support local history in Tāmaki Makaurau. Full training will be given to the successful candidates, and no prior Wikipedia editing is required.   

This project will be best suited to a student(s) with:   

  • Research skills, using both online and library resources  

  • An interest in the history of Tamaki Makaurau Auckland  

  • Ability to synthesise and summarise historical research  

  • Ability to distill complex information into clear, concise writing for a general audience  

  • An interest in public history  

  • While prior Wikipedia editing would be a plus, no previous experience is required and full training will be provided over the course of the studentship 

The history of Te Toki a Tapiri at Auckland Museum 


This project consists of museum-based research, collating and summarising all the information held by Auckland Museum on Te Toki a Tapiri.  Te Toki a Tapiri (the adze of Tapiri), a waka tauā (Māori war waka) is a significant taonga that has been in the collection at Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Auckland War Memorial Museum since 1885. This waka tauā has held a prominent location in Māori Court at Tāmaki Paenga Hira since 1928. Te Toki a Tapiri is 185 years old and has connections to five iwi, Ngāti Kahungunu (hapu Ngāti Matawhāiti), Rongowhakaata, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Te Ata, and Ngāti Whātua. Research will be sourced from Museum archives and library files and other files held in the Collection Care department on the conservation that has been carried out on the waka since it came into the Auckland Museum.  This project will support “Tui Tui Tui – the revitalisation of Te Toki a Tapiri” which is a major project currently underway at Auckland Museum in partnership with the five iwi who are connected to Te Toki a Tapiri. The output of this research will be include a written report and a comprehensive timeline summarising everything the museum knows about Te Toki a Tapiri from its own files and resources since it has been in the museum’s collection. The output of this research is important to share with our iwi partners.  


This project will be best suited to a student with:   

  • Research skills, accessing library information, data files etc.  

  • An interest in taonga Māori 

  • Report writing skills – ability to digest information and summarise into useful document 

Te Aho Mutunga Kore   


Te Aho Mutunga Kore is a centre within Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum which provides a space to nurture creativity, knowledge sharing and knowledge creation by decentering the Museum and handing agency back to communities. Te Aho Mutunga Kore: the everlasting threads of knowledge, will ensure sustained engagement with textile and fibre collections to strengthen the ties (aho) between community and their material culture heritage, creating a safe pathway for knowledge transmission (taonga tuku iho). 


Te Aho Mutunga Kore has two research projects available for this summer. Please indicate in your application which project you are most interested in.   


Project 1: Indigenising the database:  Storing the mātauranga of taonga for future generations.  

This research project will create the structure of a taonga database for communities to store information within, and to be held for them by the museum. Key data to be gathered will include the estimated or actual hours of work that went into each taonga, identifiable patterns, iwi, location, associated people, and anything else provided by the community. The research will build upon existing information/records of Māori and Pacific textiles, adding relative information if known, from expertise and practitioners within the community groups. The value of this research into taonga metadata is that it will safeguard this mātauranga for whanau, iwi, and generations to come, and will provide a culturally determined safe space for this data storage.  


Project 2: Supporting Māori and Pacific practitioners to promote their work 

This second research project will look at how museums, museum collections and museum retail spaces can promote Māori and Pacific works for sale (online and onsite). It will include a review of the Auckland Museum’s activities to date in promoting local artists in Aotearoa and the Pacific and examine what other similar spaces are doing to promote local work. If time permits, conduct a review of best practice in this space. There will be the opportunity to host a wānanga for emerging artists to discuss their needs and how Te Aho Mutunga Kore could support market access.    


These projects will be best suited to a student with:   

  • A good understanding of Kaupapa Māori led work. A familiarity with Pacific and Māori cultural context, knowledge of a te reo Māori or a Pacific language. 

  • Research skills, familiarity with database research 

  • An interest in a museums, textile and fibre collections and / or community engagement.