Picture this! - QEII Technicians' Study Awards

Picture this!

Photo: Kelson Tu’akoi

Photo: Braden Tu’akoi

Equal first prize winners in the Science Photography section at the NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair, brothers Kelson (left) and Braden Tu’akoi.

There’s more to science fairs than building a better mousetrap or testing the acidity of soft drinks. At the NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair, brothers Kelson and Braden Tu'akoi took equal first prize in the Science Photography section. Kelson is in Year 9 at St John’s College and Braden is in Year 7 at Marion Primary School (both schools are in Hamilton). The assigned theme was 'Water', with each entry developing some aspect of the theme in three to six images.

Says Kelson of his entry, 'Shapes of Water': 'I like photographing nature because I am interested in the way that light works in photos. Before I start, I like to make a plan. But sometimes I change my plan as I am working. I try to take photos that have interesting light effects, good contrast, and a balance of light, colour, and texture. I also try to make my photos tell a story.'

This was Braden’s first time in the competition. He says of his entry, 'Splash': 'I started taking photos because my big brother Kelson did it last year and I thought it looked cool. My favourite thing about photography is taking the photos. I love to take lots of them, from different angles, and see how they come out.'

QEII Technicians' Study Awards

Class participants collect samples on the shores of Loch Rannoch. (Photo: Garth Robinson)

Established in 1970, the Queen Elizabeth II Technicians' Study Awards are available to a wide range of disciplines, including science and engineering. Each year Kiwi technicians are funded to extend their training in a Commonwealth country (including New Zealand). Several technicians at NIWA have benefited from the fund, including Karen Robinson and Darren Stevens.

Karen’s work at NIWA in Christchurch includes identifying and counting freshwater periphyton (algae attached to submerged surfaces). For a week in August she joined 17 other technicians from 9 countries at the Kindrogan Field Centre in Perthshire, Scotland, to study freshwater algae. Their daily routine included lectures, field sampling in the local rivers, lakes, and ponds, and lab work identifying and recording the algal species found that day. At the end of the week, all of the results were collated and added to a database built up over the nine years the course has been running.

The experience was very positive for Karen, who reports, 'This course gave me the opportunity to develop my skills in algal identification, and the chance to work with leading international scientists was extremely valuable. As a result it’s given me greater confidence in my ability to carry out algal enumerations, as well as strengthening NIWA’s capability to contribute to scientific research projects, and help in the protection and understanding of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity.'

Darren is based at NIWA in Wellington, where he works with middle-depth fisheries and Antarctic toothfish. He will travel in May to Cambridge, England, to visit the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). With the help of staff there, he will learn to identify cephalopod (squid and octopus) beaks. This training will help him identify a number of beaks taken during two Antarctic toothfish feeding studies and will also benefit another feeding study on the Chatham Rise, which has just begun and will run until 2007. At BAS, there will also be the opportunity to examine Antarctic fish otoliths (ear bones) to identify otoliths from unidentified Antarctic fish.

Further information about the awards is available on the Ministry of Education website: just go to www.minedu.govt.nz and put QEII in the search box.
Alternatively, you can contact:
Secretary, QEII Technicians' Study Awards, 0-4-528 0808,
ajhutson@xtra.co.nz