Priscilla Wehi My research is focused on human-nature relationships, including biocultural diversity and Indigenous environmental relationships. I also work on introduced species that challenge native ecosystems; insect ecology and behaviour, in particular the sexually dimorphic New Zealand tree wētā genus Hemideina spp.; and interdisciplinary Antarctic research. I explore the relationship between conservation biology and mātauranga, and how that contributes to New Zealand ecology and conservation, from my lived experience in extended communities in Waikato, while also drawing from my own roots as a New Zealand Pākehā woman with Scottish clan origins. I am also mother of three children.

I am Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems and a current Rutherford Discovery Fellow. In recent years I have contributed to mentoring early career researchers, development of new pathways for and expressions of scientific leadership, work on equity issues, and the building of interdisciplinary teams..

Current positions

2021 – Director, Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems

2021 – Associate Professor, Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago
2019 – Incoming Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems
2019Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity, University of Auckland
20142020, Rutherford Discovery Fellow
2014– 2020, Conservation biologist at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, a crown (government) research institute in New Zealand

Selected Career Highlights and Awards
2020 Inspirational Alumna Award, University of Canterbury Biological Sciences
2020 Majority World Travel Award, Society of Ethnobiology
2020 Nine Stars of Matariki Award, Government Women’s Network
2019 NZES Outstanding Publication on New Zealand Ecology
2018 BioHeritage Bioethics Panel. PFNZ 2050: Predator Free New Zealand: Social, Cultural, and Ethical challenges (Listen to the interview)
2015 The Sunday Star Times ‘First XV’ : a “crack squad of Kiwis who, we believe, are going to make the headlines this year. Some of them are athletes, some entrepreneurs, some politicians and scientists and artists. All of them choose to make this country their home. . .but the world is their playing field”.
2014 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, Royal Society of NZ
2009 FRST Te Tipu Putaiao Postdoctoral Fellowship
2005 Runner-up (Environmental Sciences) MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year Award
1999 Bright Futures PhD Scholarship
1993 University Prize, University of Canterbury

Education
2006 Ph. D. University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
1996 M.Sc. in Animal Ecology, Lincoln University.
1993 B.Sc. (Hons) First Class in Zoology, University of Canterbury.
1987 B.A. in English, University of Canterbury.