By Lucy Sanson

My internship as a planner for WSP has been one of the most rewarding and motivational experiences I have had during my studies towards a Bachelor of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University. I connected with people across many different sections from archaeology to ecology, all of whom supported my growth as a planner both directly and indirectly.

Throughout my time at WSP, I have had the pleasure of working with key clients throughout New Zealand. I was given a large degree of responsibility which taught me both how to work independently and when to ask for assistance. With so many talented and supportive mentors in the Auckland Planning and Engagement Team, I have been able to achieve my goal of developing my interpersonal, communication, ethical and conflict resolution skills.

Though the job has centred around writing, I have gained experience in the field on a large variety of sites including subdivisions and areas for storm water monitoring. Over the past few months, I have completed works including outline plans, planning assessments and resource consent applications and processing. This experience has allowed me to get an in depth understanding for my degree and prepared me for what to expect after I graduate. It has also given me an appreciation for hard deadlines how important it is to be organised and communicate with your team. Working with such a large company has been extremely beneficial as I can work on projects all over New Zealand.

In the midst of a global pandemic, I have not gotten the chance to gain as much practical experience on site with lockdowns occurring regularly, but this challenge has led me to adapt and change the way I communicate. I have learned to rely on technology and to always have a plan b.

I have found my past three years to be extremely valuable studying at Massey with the wide range of papers and content I can choose from. I cannot wait to continue with my studies for the last year of my degree. In this last year, as part of my honours degree I will be preparing a research planning project. I plan to research how Māori decision making can be incorporated in freshwater management. Throughout my summer internship, WSP provided me with opportunities to incorporate matauranga Māori and Māori cultural environmental values into my work. This allowed me to see the discrepancies between New Zealand’s western science and western planning framework and matauranga Māori and Māori cultural environmental values.

ABOVE: Lucy carrying out some bat monitoring


The Papa Pounamu Whakatutukitanga Scholarship is awarded annually to a student studying an NZPI accredited planning degree at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. It recognises excellence and attainment by a student planner involved in Māori planning in an environmental framework.

It considers a student’s academic and physical work and how that work might impact or change the understanding or practice of planning in New Zealand.

The scholarship has a value of $2,000 and the scholarship recipient will also receive up to 10 weeks’ holiday work experience at WSP.

The 2021 scholarship was awarded to Vanessa Mannix, congratulations Vanessa!