NZKS NMIT 2018 scholarship recipients with NZKS CEO, Grant Rosewarne, and General Manager Marketing, Jemma McCowan

Each year, New Zealand King Salmon awards five scholarships to Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) students.

These include three scholarships in the aquaculture field, and one each in business and hospitality.

A NZKS scholarship assists NMIT students financially with their fees as well as enabling them to gain first-hand experience in the aquaculture industry through offers of paid work experience during semester breaks and summer holidays.

Here are the NZKS scholarship recipients for 2018:

Chris Waters, NZ King Salmon Aquaculture Scholarship recipient, Year 3

Chris Waters, Aquaculture Scholarship Recipient, Year 3

A special interest in whether native New Zealand sea cucumbers can thrive on salmon farm waste was behind Chris Waters’ application to become a 2018 recipient of the NZKS Aquaculture Scholarship.

The third year NMIT student’s dissertation is investigating the potential of sea cucumbers for bioremediation of aquaculture waste, something which Chris hopes will give him inroads into the industry after graduation.

Improving environmental outcomes in the aquaculture industry, particularly for salmon farms, is something Chris has been interested in for some time and he holds an earth science degree from Waikato University, gained straight out of school “some years ago”.

But life took him to Christchurch where he worked as a painter, a job he gave up following difficult EQC jobs. Seeking a better life for their children, Chris and his wife moved to Nelson where Chris decided to move back to his first interest, science, and, hopefully, good future career options.

“I wanted to do something with the potential for work, I don’t want a dead end and the advice I’ve been given is that Nelson is the epicentre of aquaculture in the country.”

Being a mature student with two sons still at home, Chris has no access to a student loan this year so the scholarship is “significant” for him to complete his study. He hopes to one day repay NZKS as a future employee.

Until then, he’s had to ignore the “itchy feet” gained from years as an active tradie to sit at his computer and focus on the huge amount of research for his course, which he says has offered a broad cross section of topics from management studies to analytical methodology.

“You’ve got to fill your head with a lot of information and that can be quite challenging, getting your mind in the right space, but I’m getting there.”

David Stephens, NZ King Salmon Aquaculture Scholarship recipient, Year 2

David Stephens is halfway towards achieving the degree he’s always wanted, a dream that stems from a lifelong love of the marine environment and an interest in aquaculture.

Born and bred in Nelson, he spent childhood holidays in the Marlborough Sounds, was a PADI scuba dive instructor at age 20 but – with a family to support – eventually became a chef and baker. He also worked on NZKS’s Te Pangu farm around 10 years ago.

David enrolled in the aquaculture course after a change in family circumstances. “I thought I’d turn a negative into a positive and educate myself. I’ll get a degree that I’ve always wanted.”

With a special interest in marine conservation, David is enjoying the course as it becomes more challenging in his second year. “The assignments have got a bit harder, as they should, a bit more involved and in depth.”

The NZKS scholarship is “wonderful”, he says. “My student loan is not exactly small, so to keep that down a bit is great.”

David is looking forward to completing his dissertation next year, for which he has already planned the topic, and says once he graduates he will keep his job options in Nelson’s aquaculture industry open.

Ruby Boyd, NZ King Salmon Aquaculture Scholarship recipient, Year 1

Ruby Boyd was heading towards a future in the military when she happened to meet an NMIT lecturer who told her about their aquaculture course.

The 17-year-old Whakatane student was participating in the Services Academy programme at her school but decided her love of seafood matched perfectly with a career in aquaculture, so she enrolled in NMIT’s aquaculture course and moved to Nelson.

“It’s something I’m interested in and something I can get a job in.”

Ruby wasn’t sure what to expect from the course but so far she’s enjoying learning about the four main aquaculture industries in New Zealand and particularly the hands-on work placement on New Zealand King Salmon farms where she encountered “nice people”.

She has visited several NZKS facilities, including Marlborough Sounds farms and a Canterbury hatchery where she was able to feed salmon and look after eggs.

A highlight was dissecting salmon, “that was fun”.

Ruby says she appreciates the NZKS scholarship as it will help keep her student loan down.

Raylene Juniper, NZ King Salmon Business Scholarship recipient

Raylene Juniper, Business Scholarship Recipient

When Raylene Juniper returned to New Zealand after 12 years in Australia as a newly single mum, with five children and 23 boxes, she was determined to resume the business study she’d put on hold 18 years ago.

Raylene (also known as Raylene Finlay), who’d turned to the benefit as a stopgap solution, was doing a course in Riwaka when she saw an advertisement for an internship with study at NMIT.

“I thought I’d give the internship a shot because I’d been a stay at home mum for 16 years.”

Raylene passed her course at the top of her class with 98% and her tutors urged her to go for a bachelor’s degree. It cemented her decision to pursue the New Zealand Diploma of Business which she’d started in 2000, despite worries about coping with her children and her workload.

She started the course in February 2017 and despite the “hard going” of juggling four of her kids now aged 14, nearly 11 and 9-year-old twins, and a daily 7am commute from Motueka to class, Raylene has maintained an A average. Without the support of her parents, sister and three brothers she wouldn’t be able to manage, she says.

For Raylene, the NZKS scholarship means a great deal financially and it improves her chances of being able to pursue a degree, which will add a further 18 months after she graduates in December but will, she says, greatly improve her job prospects. “I’m very thankful that they were willing to give me a scholarship.”

“My goal is to provide for my family the best I can and I couldn’t see a supermarket job or the dole doing that. I wanted to show the kids that even though it’s hard you still can manage things, and to go for it.”

Eugene Ringdahl – NZ King Salmon Hospitality Scholarship recipient

Eugene Ringdahl, Hospitality Scholarship Recipient

Eugene Ringdahl already had a few years of cooking experience under his apron when he decided it was time to extend his knowledge and continue his learning.

Enrolling in the NMIT cookery course, Eugene is now on culinary arts level 4 and has been achieving no less than 90% on all his assignments and exams, successful outcomes which have added to his enjoyment of the course.

“Also, I have learned lots that I’ve been able to link to my work life and learning from very talented tutors of high experience.”

When he’s not cooking in class or completing course work, Eugene works as chef de partie at The Tides Restaurant in Nelson.

After graduating, he hopes to travel and experience working in Michelin star restaurants, but also has higher goals relating to his own past.

“Having spent my youth causing trouble and now having turned over a new leaf, I also plan to help deter our future youth from leading troublesome lifestyles and teach them life skills. I also plan to write a book or two in the future.”

Being awarded the NZKS scholarship means a lot financially, he says, “but it means more to be opening a door to work with and share my ideas, and open doors for my future”.