- Qualification and GIS component: BSc majoring in Anthropology, PGDip GIS
- Tertiary Institute: Undergrad: University of Auckland. Postgrad: AUT
- Work role: Geospatial Specialist with Haanuiorangi Te Whare Tapu o Ngāpuhi. Previously Geospatial Information Analyst at the Department of Conservation
Why did you choose to study GIS?
I started working at Statistics NZ seven years ago, in their Auckland contact centre while I was studying for my BSc. When I finished my degree, I saw a job going as a statistical processer in their agricultural team. I got the job, and had a little bit of exposure through it to the use of GIS. It was around that time that the geospatial team at Stats was starting to build a profile across the organisation, and I could see some real crossover between the concepts in archaeology and GIS.
I could see the influence that stats data had for New Zealand, and it really inspired me to want to ensure we had really good, accurate data.
My manager at the time suggested I look into the new MGIS programme, which was being offered in Auckland for the first time. I was sort of like the Auckland guinea pig as I was the first student they had in the programme. It was exciting, and really challenging – the challenges taught me a lot.
What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced from studying GIS?
It has definitely opened up my career opportunities, and made it possible for me to go in different directions that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know people across the geospatial community. It’s such a passionate and connected community, and they are really supportive of growing the number of skilled GIS people in New Zealand.
It’s very friendly, and feels like we are all working to the common goal of using GIS to make things better in New Zealand, and internationally.
How important is GIS for your existing and future career options, and why?
For me, it allows me to follow my original passion and interest in anthropology and archaeology, just through a different path. It really opens doors for me to work all over New Zealand – as well as internationally. I’ve been really lucky to have great supportive managers at Statistics who have encouraged me to try different things and take different roles, and I think GIS has opened a lot of doors for me career wise.
What advice would you give to future students considering adding a GIS component to their studies?
Definitely do it. Even if you don’t plan on doing a complete GIS qualification, doing some GIS papers will definitely complement your study. It will change the way you view data and information, and how you approach challenges. Just go for it and take some risks – you’ll be surprised at what you learn.