Postgraduate students


The Hill Country Futures programme is supporting the next generation of researchers and improving New Zealand’s future research capability through several postgraduate scholarships.


Joan Ropiha

Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu
PhD student
School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University

Research Involvement

Joan Ropiha

Joan has a Master of Environmental Studies from Victoria University and a Master of Arts in Māori Studies from the University of Auckland.

Her expertise is in local hapū knowledge and mātauranga in the practice of rongoā, horticulture and kaitiakitanga – within the wider field of Māori cultural and environmental heritage. Joan’s research work has been published as “The Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Maramataka – the Māori lunar calendar”. Her PhD study for the Hill Country Futures programme assesses specific native shrubs for sheep and beef forage, and biodiversity and environmental enhancement.

“A crop of the study shrubs will be planted for managed sheep grazing at Massey University’s Tuapaka hill country farm in September 2020. This study is to be founded in kaitiakitanga, kaupapa Māori, mātauranga Māori and tikanga, alongside engagement with Māori stakeholders. A specific high-level objective is to clarify the mātauranga Māori about the native species in this study and the associated tikanga of their use, particularly kaitiakitanga. The kaupapa Māori approach to methodology recognises the intrinsic interests of Māori and provides for the cultural and scientific aspirations of this study.”