Internships: Kevin Huniu

During his time in New Zealand, Kevin Huniu traveled to see many local beauty spots, like the roaring Waikatu River.

New Zealand Water Issues

Kevin Huniu knows first-hand how hard it can be to get the internship you want – and that sticking with it pays off.

With New Zealand his preferred destination, he says, “I sent out more than a hundred e-mails and talked to everyone on campus who might be able to help me, but I only turned up fluffy internships you had to pay for.”

He eventually found the website of the Land Care Institute, and from there was referred to a project leader at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) the equivalent of NOAA in the U.S. Several e-mails later, a project leader wrote him back, saying, “I’ve got something for you.”

Huniu was stationed in the city of Hamilton, where he lived in a hostel, chopped wood in exchange for staying at a co-worker’s place, and had a room of his own in another flat. He saw much of the North Island during his three-and-a-half month stay, which he paid for with funds from a Boughton Award at Bren.

He was assigned to the Aquatic Pollution Group, which is working to address the environmental impacts of intensive dairy farming, particularly on rivers. They’re developing advanced pond systems that “capture and treat dairy-shed wastewater effluent and produce methane for energy generation.” Huniu spent a lot of time monitoring projects and collecting field data and says the internship “fit perfectly” with his double Bren specialization, in Water Resource Management and Pollution Prevention.

“I just tried to help out wherever I could,” he says, adding that he took his Bren training with him. “Bren introduced me to the concepts that I’d need to learn to practice out in the field and to the multiple elements – scientific, political, and economic – of environmental problems. They’re so intrinsically linked. We had to collect the scientific data to prove our point to the politicians, so that they’d provide the subsidies to build these systems.”