PGSA Executive

The PGSA is managed by a group of postgraduates who volunteer their time to represent their fellow students, encourage excellence, and build community among postgraduate students at VUW. A copy of the PGSA Executive Manual and  guidelines for Exec Member Conduct can be found here. Read on to find out more information about each member of the Executive.

Meeting Minutes & Reports

Read the minutes of our Initial & Annual General Members Meetings & the Reports from the President’s & Treasurer tabled at those meetings

President: Priyanka Roy

Joined the Exec: June 2017
Programme of Study: PhD Theatre

I am pursuing my PhD in Theatre Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. I am passionate about writing. I have published two collections of poetry, ‘Willow Tree’ (2014) and ‘Love and a Thousand Questions’ (2016). Apart from working on feminism and theatre, I also write on culture, women’s issues, theatre and films for HuffPost. Joining PGSA felt like a natural process for me as I wanted to add a greater dimension to my PhD experience. Becoming an executive member, I felt, would not only help me support student issues in a meaningful way but also assist me in engaging with important issues of diversity, gender parity and student support that matters to us, not just as students, but as significant contributors to society. The very first day I attended the PGSA meeting, it was clear to me that PGSA was of immense value to student life at Victoria. It not only promotes greater engagement among students but also organises social activities and events to share crucial information regarding student services. PGSA endeavours to make university life both enriching and exciting for all students. Being immersed in creative pursuits like theatre and writing, I sought out PGSA to gain a better understanding of the student body at Victoria and contribute to student wellbeing. I have a background in communication and policy research and I wanted to bring my experience to PGSA and help in the activities that facilitate broader engagement between the students and the university. This experience would help me in building connections, applying my leadership skills and providing me with a great platform to work with students from all walks of life and from every corner of the world.

Priyanka Roy

Priyanka Roy

 
Will Abbiss

Will Abbiss

Co-Vice-President: Will Abbiss 

Joined the Exec: October 2017
Programme of Study: PhD Media Studies

I’m a PhD candidate in the media studies programme, studying television period drama. As a newcomer to Aotearoa New Zealand, it’s been wonderful to be involved with the PGSA from my very first day of study and take advantage of its ready-made postgraduate community. I’ve loved getting involved in all the events we run, which as both participant and organiser have helped me start to get used to public speaking. I also help to manage our committee representatives, and run the PGSA’s regular newsletter ‘Informer’. I’d encourage all postgraduates at Vic to get stuck in and make use of the PGSA to practise presenting your research, celebrate excellence or just make new friends!

 

Co-Vice-President: Leo Mercer

Joined the Exec: July 2018
Programme of Study: PhD Environmental Studies

Kia ora, my name is Leo and I am a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies within the school of Geography Environment and Earth Sciences. I started university here at Victoria University in 2013 and they haven’t got rid of me yet! I completed my BSc in 2015 majoring in Environmental Science and Geography and I am now in the second year of my PhD which is examining the land use options available to Māori landowners on the East Coast of the North Island. My research is particularly interested in the role that carbon farming can play in the development of Māori land and how this land use is valued when compared to its alternatives. In my spare time I enjoy mountain biking, tramping and attempting to read non-academic material! I am also a tutor and have developed an understanding and passion for this process. The PGSA occupies an important role for post graduate students who may often miss the sense of camaraderie enjoyed by undergraduates, who instead toil away in isolation. Developing connections between oneself and others in the same boat may at times feel daunting and difficult but incredibly important for the journey we are all undertaking. Connecting post graduate students, building a sense of fellowship and advocating for their interests at local and national scales is one of the important roles occupied by the PGSA, and one which I am excited to take part in. It is my aim to contribute to this good work by fostering links between the university, organisations that advocate for and represent students, and the student body itself.

Leo Mercer

Leo Mercer

 

Our Story

The Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) was formed in 1994 by a committed group of postgraduate students with a focus on providing services to postgraduate students not already provided by the University.

In 1997 Dennis and Trevor Landers established the Landers Award in order to recognise an individual who provided outstanding work which fostered the ethos and the objectives of the PGSA, or who had done much to improve the experience of the postgraduate student experience. This was in recognition that in the informal beginnings of the PGSA there were people working tirelessly to support postgraduate students. The Landers Postgraduate Award was an attempt to recognise those who had gone before (operating with their own personal resources) and to recognise those who would come after. The motivations were also partly in response to the closure of the Graduate Students Office.

The first Executive Assistant of the PGSA was Trevor Landers, who worked in an entirely voluntarily capacity as at this time, as the PGSA had no funding or institutional recognition. A delegation, including Trevor, Peter Howland and Vicki Culling met with Alastair Shaw (then President of VUWSA) and argued for a devolution of the quantum which postgraduates paid. Vice-Chancellor Les Holborrow and the Senior Management Team needed convincing. Through discussions, came the Minimum Resource Agreement in which the PGSA and Victoria still discuss and adhere to today. The delegation demanded rights for postgraduate students, and argued that postgraduate students bring in the majority of the income of the University.

The mission and values of the PGSA have not changed drastically from its early beginnings: to get support and resources for postgraduates students, and encourage the University to take postgraduate students seriously and to treat them well.

Past PGSA Executives have participated in international forums on postgraduate issues and management of a postgraduate voice. Trevor Landers in August 1997 attended the World Postgraduate Association Conference in Budapest, where the Budapest Declaration was issued and a World Postgraduate Body established, and was achieved without access to external funding. Once external funding was secured and institutionalised, the foundation of the PGSA was determined.

In 1998 the PGSA as we know it now became established and sustainable, thanks to the financial support from VUWSA and the University, and was formally recognised as a representative student association by VUWSA. We operate as an autonomous association for and on behalf of postgraduate students in partnership with VUWSA. The PGSA is the representative body of all postgraduate students, providing representation and services for all postgraduates enrolled at Victoria. Postgraduate students comprise roughly 20% of students at Victoria and are defined as students who are enrolled at Honours level or above (with the exception of Law, for which Honours is included as an undergraduate course), including graduate diploma students.

The current Constitution of the Victoria University of Wellington Postgraduate Students’ Association Inc was ratified at the AGM on 6 October 2014.

Schyana Sivanantham

Schyana Sivanantham

TREASURER: SCHYANA SIVANANTHAM

Joined the Exec: August 2017
Programme of Study: PhD Psychology

I’m Schyana, and I’m currently studying towards my PhD in the area of Cognitive Developmental Psychology here at Victoria University. My research investigates how Theory of Mind and motor cognition may be coordinated, and the implications for non-shared and shared intentional activities. I have been a student of VUW for a while now, having gained my Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology (2013-2016). In my free time I like to practice (and improve) my German language skills, and play the piano. As an executive member of the PGSA, I hope to be a voice for postgraduate students, both domestic and international. Postgraduate study is challenging for many reasons, and while I am on my own PhD journey I wish to help others feel at home here at Victoria, and support postgraduate students in any way I can.

 

Executive Member: Taylor Cooney

Joined the Exec: March 2017
Programme of Study: PhD Microbiology

My name is Taylor and I’m a scientific researcher in the Cancer Immunotherapeutic field – specifically looking at development of novel peptide cancer vaccines. I moved to Wellington after spending four years studying at Otago, and throughout my time down south always had a keen involvement in all aspects of University life – from two years as a Residential Assistant, member of the Otago University Rowing Club to various board and class representative positions. I believe that as a collective, postgraduate students have the experience, skills and maturity to shape the culture of both our own classes and also those of the undergraduates. I believe this board position is vital for maintaining a positive connection between the student body and the faculty, to ensure that both parties work together for the common goal and allow the postgrad community to make their mark on the Vic Uni culture. Postgraduate study can be challenging and even at times frustrating and isolating. Access to an inclusive, friendly and open PGSA is crucial for creating an enjoyable environment in which to ‘ride the research rollercoaster’. I feel that PGSA provides the important stepping stone between the student body and the faculty staff members. One of my favourite experiences at University was living in a residential college. This experience has given me a hugely valuable set of skills including the ability to work in very diverse teams, a ridiculously large amount of patience, the ability to relate in different ways to different individuals and strategies for prioritising many varied tasks. I have also spent time as a Student council representative and secretary, captained various sports teams, mentored undergraduate students, and been both a school prefect and class representative for science and commerce papers. I thrive on being involved in all aspects of University life, and would thoroughly enjoy the experience and new skills this position may bring. I believe I have the skill set and enthusiasm to be a constructive and valuable member of the PGSA board. 

Taylor Cooney

Taylor Cooney

 
Andrew Lensen

Andrew Lensen

Executive Member: Andrew Lensen

Joined the Exec: September 2018
Programme of Study: PhD Computer Science

I am currently in the last year of my PhD in Computer Science, with a focus on using a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) called Evolutionary Computation to solve difficult data science problems. I have enjoyed studying at Victoria throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate study and am looking forward to giving back to the student community that has supported me during this period. I am passionate about student well-being, especially during stressful doctoral study, and hope to be able to help represent postgraduate students.

 

Executive Member: Elisabeth Olsen

Joined the Exec: October 2018
Programme of Study: PhD Philosophy

I was born in Africa in the ’80s, and grew up through apartheid and its end in South Africa. At 15, I moved to Texas just a month prior to 9/11 where I experienced the retaliatory reaction to the terrorist action. I have been in New Zealand for over 10 years and I appreciate being a citizen of a country where so many people value justice, equity, and respect for their fellows. I am involved with the PGSA to do my part to build an inclusive and equitable society.

Elisabeth Olsen

Elisabeth Olsen

 
Raiatea Barlow Kameta

Raiatea Barlow Kameta

Executive Member: Raiatea Barlow Kameta

Joined the Exec: December 2018
Programme of Study: MSc Physical Geography

Kia ora, my name is Raiatea, and I whakapapa back to many iwi across the North Island (Ngāitai, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato Tainui, Whakatōhea). Before I became a Masters student, I did my BSc here at VUW(TBC) in Geography and Geology. Because of this, I’ve found myself with a foot in both the physical and social science worlds. I believe this combination of background and interests has led me towards my research interests and looking at the world holistically. Currently, my MSc project is on flood modelling, where I am using qualitative research and experiences in combination with numerical modelling. As a SGEES (School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences) representative and a committee member I hope to be able to bring a new set of ideas to the table around postgraduate study, working within the university and transparency.

 

Amy Lynch

Joined the Exec: November 2018
Programme of Study: PhD Chemistry

Hello! My name is Amy and I am studying towards my PhD in organic chemistry, investigating how to synthesise and utilise glycopeptides. I completed both my Bachelor of Science (2013-2015) and Master of Science (2016-2018) at Victoria University. Outside of my studies I enjoy crafts, such as knitting and tatting, as well as getting overly invested in a good novel. I joined the PGSA because as a Master’s student I became aware of the importance of the representation of postgraduate students in the university. Postgraduates are the backbone of the research output of the university, but also have a specific set of stresses, concerns and needs. I hope to listen to postgraduate students and contribute to a positive postgraduate community.

Amy Lynch

Amy Lynch

PGSA Lifetime Members

Each year the PGSA recognises postgraduate students who have made outstanding contributions to the postgraduate community serving on the PGSA executive or as a committee representative. The PGSA Executive Votes on this award, and award winners are announced annually at the Victorias Awards Reception.

2018

Jordan Anderson
Nathan Ross
Josh Brian

 

2012

Rebecca Burke
Mary Redmayne
Mabel Hamon

2017

Sue Kelly
Gemma Swan
Tara Officer

 

2011

Tanja Schubert-McArthur

2016

Olayinka (Yinka) Moses
Lynette Johnson

 

2010

Julene Marr

2015

Monique Beyer
Rachel Qi
Hayden Green

 

2009

Wayne Pihema

2014

Tim Brox

 

2008

Nicky Hager
Dr Peter Howland
Sam Mackay
Nester Russell

2013

Neal Barber
Professor Neil Quigley
Professor Laurie Bauer