Indigenous knowledge a climate 'game changer'
As a young person living with the increasing challenges of climate change, Vehia Wheeler is acutely aware that a 'bright' future is by no means guaranteed.
"I go through periods of eco-grief. I see our coral dying right in front of my eyes - that didn't happen when I was growing up," says Vehia.
While this might be overwhelming for a lot of people, Vehia is using her personal experiences and heritage - being Tahitian and a Pacific Islander - to inform her PhD research on ancestral land views and decolonial futures in Mā'ohi Nui (French Polynesia). Vehia hopes her research at The Australian National University (ANU) will help instigate positive change for her people, her lands, and her culture.
"Being Tahitian and a Pacific Islander is a large part of my identity," says Vehia. "I'm a person of this ocean, and am connected to the world, ocean and people around me."
In 2022, Vehia was awarded an ANU Game Change Supplementary Scholarship, which provides support to emerging PhD scholars working in the area of climate change.
Not only does the scholarship help Vehia pursue her important research, it also provides an opportunity to promote her findings through the well-established networks ANU offers.
"Sometimes, it's not easy for Indigenous research to be taken seriously," says Vehia. "My work at and with ANU could potentially open a lot of doors and change a lot of relationships and perspectives."
The scholarship was founded by Graham Waters, Anne-Marie Waters (GDStats '88, GDPoplnHealth '96) and Ray Kiley (BSc '84, LLB '85), who want it to be a 'game changer' for both the recipient and the research.