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Gisborne student keen to make her mark in forestry sector

Phoebe Naske

A Gisborne student has won a $32,000 scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming the first female forester in her family.

“I have always been passionate about the environment but you don’t see a lot of female participation in this industry. That’s why I want to make a mark,” Gisborne Girls’ High School’s Phoebe Naske said.

Like her father, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Forestry Science at the University of Canterbury.

Her dad loved the idea of Phoebe doing the course and getting a “hands-on” understanding of the industry just like he and Phoebe’s uncle did.

“He keeps telling me stories about the field trips during his time at university,” she said.

Phoebe’s parents were advocates for experiencing what the outdoors has to offer, and Phoebe has fond memories of hiking with her dad.

She was also lucky enough to go on an Outward Bound experience in Anakiwa last year.

“That’s probably where my interest for forestry comes from,” she said.

Phoebe said she learned about the scholarship through an online course organised by GirlBoss — an initiative that creates programmes for a network of high schoolers.

“My mum shared the Facebook link to the course with me and I took up the programme relating to the primary industry,” she said.

After the course she was given the opportunity to speak with mentors from the agriculture and forestry industries.

“That’s how I got to know about the scholarship,” she said.

The scholarship programme, now in its fourth year, aims to increase the number of those that identify as female or of Māori descent, encouraging greater diversity in the industry.

She is hopeful that becoming a forester would encourage her younger sister to pursue a career which lacks a female presence.

“It is important to see other women and people of Māori descent joining this industry to have more inclusivity,” she said.

Phoebe said forestry is a “massive industry” that provides a unique scope to learn about the science behind farming, managing forests and understanding tree genetics.

As a forester she would like to ensure Aotearoa’s forests were responsibly managed and had a positive impact on the environment.

“There are a few changes I would like to see, including better safety procedures and finding sustainable ways to do forestry in the future,” she said.

Phoebe said the scholarship would help her pay accommodation and tuition fees.

With plans to complete higher studies overseas to gain more expertise, she wants to see more women take up the challenge to work in similar industries.

  1. Michael Orchard, Hokitika says:

    Congratulations Phoebe, it is a great career. After graduating from the new University of Canterbury School of Forestry over 50 years ago, and a year’s extra practical training at Kaiangaroa Forest in the Bay of Plenty, I became Gisborne’s 1st East Coast Silvicultural Forester starting its 1st pruning and thinning programmes. My forester colleague predecessor had concentrated on building debris dams, and my successor at building a tree growth model for the region, based on the boxes of measurement raw tree data my technicians and I had collected to find enough final crop trees on the deeply eroding slopes. A fabulous experience for a young person. (Longer article to be sent to the Gisborne Herald).

    Michael Orchard, now at Hokitika on the West Coast.