Supporting communities to improve waterways: Massey alumna finds dream role


Courtney Bond graduated with a Diploma in Business Studies in 2014.

It was a human geography paper and the insight into how people interact with the environment and treat the whenua that helped alumna Courtney Bond realise her future career path: supporting communities to improve their waterways.

The Manawatū-local began studying at Massey University in 2008 and alternated between studying full-time and working part-time, and then working full-time and studying part-time.

“I used Massey’s flexibility to my advantage and developed my own schedule using the support of lecturers, family and friends,” she says. 

Courtney graduated with a Diploma in Business Studies in 2014 and graduated again the following year, with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Environmental Studies.

After studying she knew she wanted to work for the Horizons Regional Council, but was unsure in which area. A quick chat and some advice from a former rural advisor at the council Pete Taylor, helped steer her in the right direction.

“Pete told me there was a vacancy in the local plant nursey and suggested that I should apply for it. This plant nursery Starter Plants worked alongside local government and the Green Corridors Project. After 18 months, I was working in a general managers position and had gained a mammoth amount of knowledge in native plant husbandry.

“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because then the role I am currently in was advertised and I was able to tick all the boxes. In July 2018, I became a Freshwater Advisor at Horizons Regional Council.” 

The role involves working with landowners and community groups providing advice and connecting them to funding to support the fencing and planting of riparians and natural wetlands. 

“The end goal is to improve water quality and make our degraded awa safe for future generations,” she says. “Not only do I get to help improve water quality, enhance biodiversity and native aquatic habitat – I get to reconnect people with the awa and at times, that is the most rewarding outcome.”

While working for Horizons she was also able to continue her studies and in 2019 she graduated with a Certificate in Sustainable Nutrient Management in New Zealand Agriculture.

Courtney says studying various programmes with Massey helped to prepare her for working in this area. 

“The Planning and Treaty of Waitangi papers assisted with my understanding and ability to read policy and Geography and Earth Science learnings helped me in regards to the engineering infrastructure of things like drainage schemes and culverts in our waterways and the way these interact with the movement of water.” 

Her advice for other students is to find a way of studying that works for them – and to not be afraid to ask questions. 

“I found that it wasn’t until my final years of study that I had enough courage to ask questions, this helped my understanding of topics and my assignments, greatly.”

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