Meet the Interns – A catch-up with Emma, Georgie and Cora

Community Catchment Plan

Community Wellbeing


Healthy Ecosystems

This summer we welcomed three incredible interns here at WAI, working on a range of projects and initiatives. These three wāhine have far surpassed our expectations! Each adding their own vibrant touch and a passion for the environment to the table.

We sat down with Emma, Georgie and Cora to learn more about their stories and what got them interested in working here at WAI.


NAME: Emma

UNIVERSITY AND PROGRAMME: B.Sc in Marine Science, University of Otago

GREW UP IN: Te Waiharakeke / Blenheim

FAVOURITE HOBBY: Snowboarding or reading

FAVOURITE NATIVE BIRD: Titipounamu and Kererū


NAME: Georgie

UNIVERSITY AND PROGRAMME: B.ASc in Agricultural Innovation and Environmental Management, University of Otago

GREW UP IN: Glen Dene Station, Lake Hāwea

FAVOURITE HOBBY: Hunting & providing food for my family



NAME: Cora

UNIVERSITY AND PROGRAMME: Masters of Applied Computing, Lincoln University


FAVOURITE HOBBY: Tidepooling and travelling


Emma in the lab
Emma in the lab.

What is your role as an intern at WAI?

Emma: I’m doing a summer internship, carrying out a project called ‘Teeny Tiny Truth in our Drinking Water’. I’m looking into the presence of microplastics in Wānaka and Hāwea’s drinking water supply.

Georgie: My role is the rural summer intern at WAI. My primary focus is on the NZFAP+ program, a higher-level voluntary sustainability standard for farming. This role involves facilitating the adoption and implementation of sustainable and socially responsible farming practices. Key responsibilities include assisting with the development of comprehensive farm environment plans, which cover aspects like nutrient and greenhouse gas management, biodiversity enhancement, and biosecurity measures. Alongside this, I am also helping support the biodiversity monitoring project and participating in the Diversification Project, contributing to the broader goal of sustainable rural development.

Cora: As a Fullstack Software Developer, my main responsibility has been developing a website for dynamically visualizing the data from the Upper Clutha project. My role involves making complex data more easily understandable and accessible to people.

Georgie doing a visual soil assessment on farm
Georgie doing a visual soil assessment on farm.

Why did you choose to intern at WAI and what aspect of our mission resonates with you most?

Emma: I feel very passionate about the goals and values that WAI hold – in particular looking after our taonga species and collaborating with local community. The freshwater space is such an important natural resource that unfortunately is often overlooked. To lead research and raise awareness within this space is awesome!

Georgie: I sought the internship at WAI Wānaka because I am deeply committed to making a meaningful and positive impact in my community and agricultural industry. Being part of and contributing to positive changes among the farmers in our catchment is incredibly rewarding. WAI’s vision of fostering ‘Healthy ecosystems and community wellbeing for future generations’ truly speaks to me. It’s crucial for me that the beauty and vitality of this region are preserved so that future generations can not only enjoy it but also sustain their livelihoods through the land and farming.

Cora: I chose to intern at WAI Wānaka because it allows me to leverage my software development skills for environmental protection, a cause I deeply care about.

What has been your favourite experience as an intern so far?

Emma: I’ve really enjoyed being around like-minded people and having meaningful conversations about the environment. I’m loving learning more about freshwater species and I’m also enjoying being able to lead my own project and doing science in the real world!

Georgie: My favorite part of interning at WAI has been the time I spend out on the local farms. It’s been incredibly rewarding to connect with farmers, offer help, and learn from their vast and unique knowledge that’s specific to each of their properties. There’s nothing quite like the hands-on experience of seeing real-life farming challenges and successes up close, which is a stark contrast to the theoretical knowledge from university. It’s this practical, on-the-ground learning that I look forward to the most as I continue my internship.

Cora: The best part of my internship has been working with great teams who have given me a lot of support. What I am most looking forward to is the successful launch of the website we developed, which will help in disseminating and making environmental data more comprehensible to the public.

Cora presenting her work as an intern
Cora, presenting her work to the WAI team.

What fuels your passion for safeguarding freshwater in Aotearoa?

Emma: I’m motivated by thinking about the future generations and our native freshwater species being able to enjoy healthy rivers and lakes.

Georgie: Protecting New Zealand’s freshwater is something I’m deeply passionate about. My connection to water comes from growing up with Lake Hāwea as my backyard. Swimming, fishing, and living intertwined with the lake’s rhythms were integral to my daily life. Witnessing parts of the country where people can’t enjoy clean and safe waterways has been a real eye-opener. It fuels my commitment to ensure that our lakes, rivers, and streams remain pristine. I want future generations to have the same opportunities to interact with and appreciate our natural water bodies. Just as I have. Ensuring these vital ecosystems are preserved for their ecological, cultural, and recreational value.

Cora: My passion is fuelled by the understanding of the vital role freshwater plays in our ecosystem, and the need to preserve it for future generations.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Emma: I honestly haven’t thought about it too much! I’d like to be doing meaningful work in the conservation space, seen a few more countries, and have a nice vege garden somewhere.

Georgie: In ten years, I envision myself as a pioneering figure in the agricultural sector. Deeply committed to advancing sustainable farming practices. I aim to be actively involved in the Upper Clutha catchments. Continuing my family’s legacy by contributing to the preservation and enhancement of our natural resources. My goal is to blend tradition with innovation, ensuring that we not only maintain our heritage, but also adapt to the evolving demands of environment and industry.

Cora: In ten years, I see myself as an experienced full-stack software developer. Hopefully continuing to use my skills to make a positive impact on the environment and society.

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