Graduate Stories: Hayley Phillips

We have had some fantastic Graduate Stories so far and our next instalment is no exception. Introducing Hayley Phillips from Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato (University of Waikato), completing her Master of Social Science in Anthropology under the supervision of Dr Fraser Macdonald and Dr Fiona McCormack. 

 Hayley Phillips

Hayley Phillips

Tell us about yourself

I’m a proud born and bred Northlander from Whangarei. In 2013 I moved to Hamilton to pursue a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in political science and anthropology. My upbringing was filled with fishing, sport, gardening and family, and still very much is.

One of my other great passions is the sport of lawn bowls. I’ve played for just over a decade now, first beginning at the age of twelve.

What drew you to anthropology?

Like most of the general public, I had absolutely no clue what anthropology was when it was first mentioned to me. My secondary school dean discussed it with me while looking at degree options. It sounded interesting, and thus the two first year papers offered at Waikato were put into my degree plan. Once classes began I was immediately hooked. The combination of theories, culture and anecdotes from lecturers were inspiring and intriguing. The holistic approach and anthropological lens also mirrored aspects of my own life and upbringing (e.g. importance of family and the environment). I guess you could say that to me, anthropology fits like a glove!

What are you working on?

My thesis, Sea of Voices: Deep Sea Mining and the Solwara 1 Project, is looking at deep sea mining in Papua New Guinea. Nautilus Minerals Inc. are currently poised to begin mining the Solwara 1 seafloor deposit in late 2019, presenting a new frontier in mineral exploitation. I am using Banks and Ballard’s triadic model to structure my work, focussing on the company, government, and local communities as the main stakeholders of this particular mining project. The use of this triadic relationship aims to demonstrate the three different discourses, each with varying levels of power and dominance. Ultimately, my work emphasises the deep and important connection that local communities have to their marine environment, and contrast this with views of the mining company and government.

How have you found life as a graduate student?

Life as a graduate student teaches you many things! I’ve learnt the importance of maintaining a good work/study/life balance – that is key. Making the most of opportunities is also something I aim for. I’ve really enjoyed tutoring in the last year, as well as working in disability support services.

Graduate students definitely need good motivational forces to keep them chugging in the good and not so good times. First and foremost, my fantastic supervisors, and additionally, the rest of the Anthropology Department or ‘tribe.’ Everyone has been incredibly supportive during my time here, for which I am forever grateful. Being in such an environment makes life far easier.

What are your current influences?

The response to Solwara 1 is certainly gaining interest in multiple fields and through different mediums. I’m currently following the role social media is playing in the opinion and information sharing around the project.

On a personal level, I’m always influenced by the key people in my life; my parents, grandparents, friends and partner. Where would we be without our loved ones?

Forever in my mind is also my favourite Māori proverb, which I believe relates to anthropology quite nicely; Kia maumahara ki tōu mana ahua ake – cherish your absolute uniqueness.

[Date of submission: November 2018]


Graduate Stories is curated by ASAA/NZ Postgraduate Representative Jacinta Forde. If you would like to share your graduate story with us - or you know of some interesting research being done by a graduate student - please get in touch.