Ducks Unlimited NZ

Displaying items by tag: Scholarships

Saturday, 17 February 2024 21:27

Elusive Bittern

Elusive Bittern caught on camera at Wairio Wetland

Jessica Wagner is a student at Victoria University of Wellington, researching rat response to scent and acoustic stimuli in the Wairio wetland. The intended outcome of Jessica's research is to determine what stimuli are most attractive to rats in order to improve trapping efforts, and ultimately, to protect rare birds such as the Bittern and wetlands in general.
Jessica was a recipient of one of the wetland care scholarships.

"I was recently going through my footage and noticed that one of my cameras has recorded a video of a Bittern on the 4th of December! I thought that you and others at Ducks Unlimited NZ may be interested in this so I have attached the video below. Feel free to share with anyone else who may be interested" (Jessica) .

Published in Wairio News
Monday, 15 January 2024 14:31

Research scholarships aid restoration

Research scholarships aid restoration of native wetlands

Thanks to Wetland Care Research Scholarships funded by Ducks Unlimited, our student researchers are finding the best ways to recreate a haven for waterfowl.
Wetlands in Aotearoa New Zealand are precious natural resources viewed as taonga by Māori, which provide a habitat for fish and birds.
Even in purely financial terms, wetlands are valuable for their role in filtering nutrients from water, absorbing carbon, and controlling erosion and flooding.
Sadly, they are now in crisis. With over 90% of our wetlands lost over the past 100 years, many plants and animals are struggling for survival, including the elusive matuku (Australasian bittern) and pūweto (spotless crake).

Published in Wairio News
Monday, 06 June 2022 19:54

Wetland Care first scholarship award

Restored wetlands on private farms deliver ecosystem services and increase diversity, with varied results, a recent study has found.


Shannon Bentley, a master’s student at Victoria University and the first recipient of a Wetland Care Scholarship funded by Ducks Unlimited NZ, is studying how wetland restoration on farms changes plant, soil, and microbial characteristics.

In 2018-2019, as a part of the research group, Wetlands for People and Place, she sampled 18 privately restored wetlands and paired unrestored wetlands on farms in the Wairarapa.

For her master’s thesis, she analysed the wetland plant communities, soil physiochemical characteristics, and soil microbial communities to understand how they change with restoration. She found that wetland restoration on private property shifts plant, soil, and microbial characteristics towards desirable remnant wetland conditions. She also showed that the outcomes of wetland restoration varied within and between wetlands.

Read more

Published in Wetlands
Friday, 28 May 2021 22:16

Restored wetlands bring diversity

DU's inaugural scholarship recipient Shannon Bentley is in the final stages of analysing data for her thesis on wetland restoration.

She says she is exploring how restoring wetlands from pasture changes plants, microbes and soil.

"Restored wetlands are home to more diverse native plant communities and soil microbial communities than pastures, preliminary results show.

"This diversity produces a wide variety of benefits for people. For example, restored wetland soils have an increased capacity to store carbon, attenuate floods, and remove excess nutrients. "However, restoration creates a wide variety of responses, with every restored wetland being different."

More to come from this space, she says.

Published in Issue 180
Friday, 13 March 2020 08:56

DUNZ Scholarship awarded

The first Ducks Unlimited scholarship has been awarded to Shannon Bentley who is studying for a master’s degree at Victoria University of Wellington. Shannon’s research will include field work at the Wairio wetland.
She is originally from the Wairarapa.

DU is planning a small presentation at the university to award the scholarship to Shannon in March 2020.

Published in Issue 178
Saturday, 09 November 2019 22:52

Wetland Care Scholarship

Interested in studying wetland birds or wetland restoration? – the Wetland Care Scholarship could be for you!


Wetland Care Research Scholarships are Ducks Unlimited-sponsored scholarships applicable to any student currently enrolled or affiliated with a New Zealand university.

Funds are aimed at encouraging and supporting students who wish to push the boundaries of what is known about wetland restoration and conservation and whose projects are designed to facilitate better management of New Zealand wetlands or their environment.

Up to $20,000 is available each year to cover one to four separate scholarships of $5000 each. Funds can be used to support student living costs or to cover the costs of equipment purchase, logistics and consumables.



Applications will be accepted from students/researchers affiliated with universities interested in making a difference through wetland conservation.

The student project must be based in New Zealand. Preference will be given to applications that demonstrate:

 projects of direct benefit to New Zealand based on current wetland conservation issues.

 innovative thinking that pushes the boundaries of what is known about New Zealand wetland conservation.

 research on native threatened wetland bird species.

 research with clear objectives and measurable outcomes.

 research with a strong wetland management and conservation applications.

 research covering any ‘preferred research topics’ listed on the Ducks Unlimited/Wetland Care website.


Wetland Care will award up to four scholarships a year, in two funding rounds each year for the next three years. The current round, consisting of one or two $5000 scholarships, is being advertised now for 2020.

The next funding round, consisting of another one or two $5000 scholarships, will be advertised early next year. Funds will be paid in one lump sum to successful candidates upon completion of the milestones agreed at the time the scholarship is accepted.


Interested? Or want to know more?

Please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your questions or to request an application pack.

Terms and conditions and an application form are available on the Ducks Unlimited website:

Applications for the current round close on 1 November 2019.




Published in Issue 177
Tagged under
Friday, 24 August 2018 09:25

Dan (the Blue Duck man) Steele

Ducks Unlimited director Dan Steele, is one of this year’s five Nuffield New Zealand Scholarship winners.

In the past 60 years this award has provided the opportunity for a select group of young rural New Zealanders to have a life changing experience. Overseas travel, study the latest developments in agricultural countries, along with the opportunity to meet leaders and decision makers.
Dan, a farmer and conservationist, said he intends to focus on Brand New Zealand. He wants the chance to promote NZ products because they are the best. Strengthening rural towns and involving communities in conservation to build the belief there is value in looking after our own environment is one of his aims. 
Dan already has overseas experiences, but for many years now has been running his property Blue Duck Station. The 1460ha sheep and beef station and the conservation projects also involved there, include working with his parents on their neighbouring Retruke Station, building his Blue Duck Lodge in 2005 and founding Wild Journeys commercial jet boats partnership.
Preserving native bird species, particularly blue duck and kiwi, retiring or planting steep and marginal land, improving water quality and trees for bees, increasing manuka/bush honey production and creating a place for guests to stay and be involved with the land.
A most important partnership is with his wife, Sandy Waters and their two children. And if all that was not enough Dan is also involved with Ruapehu Regional Tourism, Ducks Unlimited, Wetland Care and Whanganui National Park Conservation and Historic Preservation Trust.
Other Nuffield winners this year are:
  • Bede O’Connor, a West Coast dairy farmer.
  • Ben Allomes, Woodville dairy farmer.
  • Satwant Singh who is part of the Fonterra Commodity Risk and Trading team and also works on her family dairy farm near Morrinsville.
  • And finally Sharon Morrell a regional leader with Dairy NZ based in Rotorua.
Lord Nuffield was William Morris, founder of Morris Motors. He was a philanthropist and initiated a travelling scholarship scheme for British and Empire farmers.
Nuffield wanted to recognise their contribution to feeding the nation during the war and the scholarship was a way of promoting agricultural best practice around the world.
Seven countries are part of the scheme, and award between 50 to 60 scholarships to young agriculturalists each year.


Published in Issue 162