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Published: 2006-04-13 00:00:00

Hamilton student Samantha O’Reilly has won an Environment Waikato scholarship to help with her university studies.

Samantha was presented with the Roger Harris Scholarship, valued at $4000, at yesterday’s Catchment Services Committee meeting.

The scholarship marks the contribution of Roger Harris, chief engineer of the then Hauraki Catchment Board between 1959 and 1983, to the development and implementation of the Waihou Valley scheme.

It is presented annually to students whose families live in the Waihou Valley Scheme area who are studying engineering or resource management, especially in river and catchment management.

Samantha is in the second year of a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree double majoring in geography and resources and environmental planning at the University of Waikato.

Committee chair Andra Neeley, who presented the award, said councillors were thrilled to see someone with an interest in river management and planning coming through the education system.

“We rely on the skills of people like you to inform us so we can make wise decisions,” Mrs Neeley said.

Samantha, a former Matamata College student who spent last summer making sandwiches at Subway to fund her studies, was grateful for the scholarship, which would ease her student loan burden.

“Thank you, this is really going to help me,” she told councillors.

“It was really hard working all holidays and this is going to be excellent.”

The bubbly 19-year-old, who grew up on a farm in Matamata and now flats in Hamilton, said she had always been interested in geography and the environment.

“I was always out playing in the rivers and eeling in the drains.”

When she graduates she aims to use her skills and knowledge to help protect New Zealand’s environment.

The Roger Harris Scholarship was established in 1995.

Speaking after the meeting, Cr Basil Morrison said the scholarship recognised a person who had been a major influence on the lives of people in the Waihou and Thames Valley area.

“Roger Harris’ vision and skills have lead to a safer community and higher productivity in the region,” Mr Morrison said.

“I’m sure he would be delighted that a student of Samantha’s ability is getting support through the fund to advance her education.”