Kiri Stevens – Development Studies
“New Zealand is a Pacific Island country and we have a long history engaging and sharing with other Pacific Islands” says Kiri Stevens.
Kiri’s Masters thesis will focus on how the New Zealand Defence Force’s incorporation of tikanga Māori affects New Zealand soldiers’ perceptions of successful relationship building with local communities in the Solomon Islands.
Furthermore, she will explore how gender assumptions placed on male soldiers impact on the expected roles that they undertake in security assistance missions.
Kiri developed her topic as she is interested in the effect that perceptions of identity have on our daily lives. She thinks the ways that New Zealand soldiers engage with people on overseas missions is an interesting example of this that has wider implications for biculturalism in New Zealand.
“I was attracted to development studies as I liked the two-year structure of the programme. I felt this gave students the opportunity to develop a meaningful research project as well as receiving good support through the taught aspects of the course. I also liked that the programme seeks to attract overseas students and people that have worked in development internationally as I believe this enriches the learning experience for all the students and provides many different perspectives about international development,” says Kiri.
“The road I travelled before coming to Victoria has been a winding one! I studied History and Politics at Otago University in Dunedin but got the travel bug after spending a semester in Vancouver, Canada so I headed off overseas after finishing my undergraduate degree. I spent two years working on private luxury yachts in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean before coming to Wellington. For two years I worked as a travel agent before realising I wanted a career that wasn’t ultimately about making money for a big company. I wanted to do something that is involved in thinking of ways to make our community safer and more fulfilling for everyone. “
“Studying Development Studies means asking questions about how to ethically engage in Development work – this inevitably leads to examining one’s own motivations for wanting to ‘help’ others. This can be a messy and confusing but an ultimately invaluable process. I believe Development students come out of the course with a much deeper awareness of how even the smallest assumptions can cause great harm, but also how the smallest of actions can create positive change.
“In doing Development Studies I have been exposed to the many creative ways that people around the world are trying to tackle the problems our world faces today. Coming back to University has been one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences thus far in my life. I have been given the space to grow confidently into the kind of person I want to be and how I want to live and work within my community.”
“My experiences at Victoria have clarified what kind of work I want do when I graduate and I look forward to using the skills that I have gained through the course in my future career. I also believe many of the friendships that I have made through the course will be lasting.”
Kiri believes that it is a privilege to have had the opportunity to engage in deep critical thinking about our community both here in New Zealand and around the world.