Heni Unwin is a Māori marine scientist working to integrate Mātauranga Māori (Māori traditional knowledge) and Western science. Unwin's Iwi affiliations are Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Atihaunui-a-Papaarangi.
Unwin completed her BS in Chemistry at Universityof Otago with a minor in Māori and later earned a Gradute Diploma in Marine Science from University of Auckland and a Diploma in Science in Marine Studies from Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. As of 2022, she is also working towards a Masters in Enviornmental Science at University of Canterbury and currently works as a research scientist at the Cawthron Institute in New Zealand.
It was a snorkeling adventure while visiting Raratonga when she was 10 years old that convinced her that a career in marine sciences was in her future. But the fact that that experience was also in the realm of Tangaroa (Māori God of the sea) was is as important to her as her calling to do research and she strives to ensure her work in science also serves Māori communities.
Like many indigenous scientists, Unwin has had to navigate two worlds but she has done so with positivity and enthusiasm. Even though she was often the only Māori student in many of her classes at university, the support from her parents to celebrate her Māori tradtions and ancestry has fueled her passion to share her knowledge and experiences through outreach, as well as include opportunities for rangatahi (youth) to participate in all of her research projects. Her current projects include investigating the effects of microplastics on the endemic Green-lipped mussel and launching an innteractive plastic tracking tool.
Unwin was named Future-ish's 11th Miss Next Century in 2021.
>> Instagram: @henwin15
- Royal Society. Heni Unwin & Te Rerekohu Tuterangiwhiu.
- Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge. 2021. Heni Unwin: Māori scientist making waves in the realm of Tangaroa. sftichallenge.govt.nz
- Wilson, J. 2016. Citizen science plays key role: volunteer puts heart and soul into reef work. The Courier Mail.