In 2009, The University of Waikato, New Zealand conferred an honorary doctorate on CHEC founder Zena Daysh. Since her passing in 2011, the Daysh estate has helped fund a Dr Zena Daysh Fellowship in Sustainability at the University and in 2013, the Fellowship was awarded to Papa New Guinean, Sangion Tiu – now Dr Sangion Tiu.
Sangion was awarded the Fellowship to help fund her doctoral research on policy-making for existing ecological knowledge in Papua New Guinea – an area in which she had identified a policy-making gap. Her resulting thesis was entitled Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Sustainable Resource Management in Papua New Guinea: The Role of Education and Implications for Policy. It showed how traditional indigenous knowledge can benefit education and sustainable resource management.
Sangion is now applying what she learnt in her studies as the Acting Executive Director at the Research Conservation Foundation of Papua New Guinea. Her work involves protecting flora and fauna within Papua New Guinea while simultaneously empowering indigenous communities by utilising their knowledge.
It’s not all been easy for Sangion though. While studying in New Zealand she was away from her husband who remained in Papua New Guinea. However, the support from the Zena Daysh Fellowship enabled Sangion to focus on her important studies instead of worrying about tuition fees and living expenses with her noting, “If I hadn’t received the scholarship, I would have been busy looking for jobs.”
Sangion likes to put her theory and work into practice and regularly contributes to the Mahunauka Women’s Group of Vanima Village in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. She secured funding to provide literacy packs to the women in the group which has helped improve their Alelcano language use and protected the language for future generations. Norm Stannard, a long term friend and academic of Zena Daysh, helped secure the funding for Sangion.
Sangion hopes that the next Zena Daysh Fellowship in Sustainability recipient is “someone who has a passion for the people, the communities and for improving their livelihoods. Someone who can practically make an impact and who will connect with real people – just like Zena Daysh.”
Everyone at CHEC would like to congratulate Sangion on obtaining her PhD, and wish her the best for the future and in the vital work she is doing.
This news story first appeared on the University of Waikato website and anyone wishing to apply to the Fellowship can do so here.