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Source: ESR

Waikato Aim-Taituha learned about real-life CSI (crime scene investigation) science and techniques last week during a visit to ESR’s Mount Albert science centre in Auckland.

She will visit ESR’s Christchurch-based science centre next week where she will find out how the forensics team prepares to go out to a crime scene and talk to senior technicians and scientists about what they studied and their career paths.

Currently a first-year University of Canterbury Bachelor of Criminal Justice student, Waikato who is of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngā Puhi descent, plans to join the Police when she completes her degree. Waikato enjoyed visiting ESR’s Auckland forensic labs to see where DNA samples are tested, learn about the DNA Profile Databank held at ESR, and find out more about radiation monitoring technology.

A highlight of the visit for Waikato was putting on PPE (personal protective equipment) to investigate a mock crime scene set up in ESR’s library.

“It was amazing to look for evidence and learn about the different techniques that can be used, like footprints, DNA samples, hair and fibres,” Waikato says. “Finding out about radiation technology physical evidence labs and the Lumi portable drug scanning tool were really cool too.”

“A big thanks to the forensic scientists who were so welcoming – especially Senior Scientist Heidi Baker.”

The visit is part of an experiential $3,000 ESR Māori Impact Scholarship awarded to Waikato in December 2020, in recognition of her impressive NCEA level 3 Science results. As well as the visit to Auckland, the scholarship includes a paid two-week summer 2021-2022 internship at ESR.

Māori Impact General Manager Jymal Morgan says ESR is committed to supporting Māori into science.

“Science for communities is ESR’s vision, and something our scientists are working to achieve every day. I’m proud of the focus ESR staff have on working with Māori to achieve greater impact, and opportunities like this are invaluable at highlighting to rangatahi the value science can bring all communities, including Māori.

“It’s great for Waikato to have the insight into how crime scenes are treated and how evidence is collected by the police and handled in the labs.”

Waikato was awarded the scholarship when she was a pupil of Te Pā o Rākaihautū, a special character school in Christchurch, which ESR partnered with in 2018 after successfully gaining two-year Vision Mātauranga Connect funding.