Hazel Gibson
Hazel Gibson at her recent work in the Chatham Islands. Photo Supplied

Local University of Otago Masters student Hazel Gibson has been selected as a Blake Ambassador for 2021/22.

The Ambassador programme – formerly the Sir Peter Blake Trust – provides unique opportunities for young New Zealanders to work in the field over summer, in remote locations, and contribute to important science and conservation projects, while advancing their career opportunities.

They work with leading scientists, conservationists and rangers in their fields of interest. For Hazel, her goal is to work “somewhere with DOC (Department of Conservation), preferably, or at least in environmental science. For me, it is a chance to work in all the cool places in New Zealand, while making a worthwhile contribution to important work.”

Hazel has just returned from the Chatham Islands, where she spent three weeks on Rangatira Island on the black robin breeding project, and a week on Mangere Island.

“It’s been cool – heaps of amazing wild life, and great weather,” says Hazel.

Hazel found out a while ago that she had been selected for the Blake Ambassador programme. She had to have an on-line interview, and says, “I didn’t think I would get it after that, so I was very surprised but also very excited.”

There were 13 young people selected, and Hazel, along with another ambassador, Abby Clarke, will be assisting Doc on the Takahe recovery programme at Burwood Takahe Breeding Centre near Te Anau.

The ambassadors are selected for their passion for the environment, their love of the outdoors, and their commitment to a career protecting and conserving it for future generations.

The Chatham’s project is not Hazel’s first environmental field work. Earlier this year she, along with her father Roger, assisted with the DOC/Environment Southland invasive seaweed eradication programme in Doubtful Sound. This involved her diving underwater to a given depth, and bagging the weed for eradication and research.

Other work has involved her in pest control in Resolution Island, Secretary Island and Codfish Island – unglamorous, often isolated work over rugged hillsides.

Hazel aims to become a qualified professional scuba diver to enhance her conservation skills. In the meantime, she will join Steve Kafka’s Evohe, as crew, to the Auckland Island – she hopes to research an academic study of seabirds while on board.