Sharks, Ancient Giant Penguins, and Scholarship Winnings

Winning a BOP Education Trust scholarship was more about a confidence boost than a financial one, says a recipient who dabbles in sharks and specialises in ancient giant penguins.

Marcus Richards (pictured), who works at the University of Otago, says the money required to fund a higher education is great, and what he has learnt over the past decade or so of being an adult making his own way through life, is that every little bit helps.

The scholarship was about more than money he says. “It helped teenager-me’s self-confidence to receive the BOPET scholarship, because I felt that someone out there thought I was worthy of supporting.”

The former Tauranga Boys’ College student has gone places in the world of academia… and ancient life. He works at the University of Otago’s Department of Geology where his speciality is palaeontology. Fossilised remains are the focus of his working life and he specialises in ancient giant penguins, but dabbles in sharks, sedimentology, whales and much more.

Marcus was an early BOPET scholarship recipient (awarded in 2010) who went on to study science, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in geology and a minor in zoology. He went on to pursue a BSc Honours and Master of Science degree focussing on the fossils of ancient penguins and their ancient marine environments. After completing his Masters, he was offered a job in the lab he had been working in as a student… and has been there ever since.

The average working week incorporates many interesting facets, Marcus tells. He enjoys the fact his job involves interacting with people from all works of life – from curious members of the public to farmers whose lands hold many treasures, to visiting researchers who want to study the extracted fossil treasures.

Marcus Richards

“But certainly, the university students and visiting school students who are so keen to learn are the most satisfying to interact with, as it is great to see people eager to understand about the world around us,”

Marcus enthuses.

He says he’s always keen to find out more about “the ancestors of Aotearoa's biota”, both of land and sea.

“There is so much more to discover, with these findings being a part of how we acknowledge the diversity and antiquity of the biosphere of earth, which naturally leads on to respecting it, tying into conservation and climate action.”

Life in the lab is fabulous, with this workplace’s paraphernalia including a large collection of mostly remains from ancient ocean life, like sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, and lots of seashells.

“These fossils help us reconstruct the past ocean ecosystems through time… how they have reacted to past change in ocean circulation and climate, and the evolution of major players such as cetaceans (the whales and dolphins) which have been swimming in the oceans for an order of magnitude-less time than sharks.”

Fossils from land-based lifeforms are also dealt with, with these including Moa footprints, and the Foulden Maar fossil forest deposit, which was saved from being mined out of existence a few years ago.

Marcus tells how he collects fossils in the field, bringing them back to the department’s preparation lab. There the rock entombing the fossils is worked away, and the fossils then made ready for storage in the geology museum collection or put on display.

This fossil enthusiast says a large part of his time also goes into the curation of specimens already in the collections.

“Old bones with obscure labels and no ID need to be solved, crumbling specimens need to be repaired, storage constantly needs to be optimised to allow access to materials we need to research, and specimens need to have their ages determined through analysis such as isotope analysis or biostratigraphy.”

Marcus explains how the purpose of a collection is for it to be studied for scientific research, which he also plays a part in.

“We also have a lot of outreach, with families and schools from all over NZ coming to see our fossil wonders, wanting to learn more about them.”

Jonny Joins Trustee Team

Welcome to Jonny Beadle who is the newest BOP Education Trust trustee.

Jonny, who is an investment adviser with Craigs Investment Partners, joined the trustee team in May this year.

When not serving on the Trust or at work, Jonny enjoys spending time with family, mountain biking, water skiing, snow skiing, and travel (Covid and children permitting).
He and his wife have two young sons (aged one and three) and “a giant, fluffy dog who considers herself a third child”.

Jonny says he felt “extremely honoured” to be asked to serve on the trust.

“I have great admiration for the trust and the vision that has been set, and I saw this as an opportunity to be able to add my skill set to the mix to help contribute towards that vision,” he says.

Jonny Beadle

Jonny hails from Taupō. After completing his education at Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, he studied at Lincoln University in Christchurch, graduating with a BCOM majoring in finance.

He spent seven years working in various commercial banking roles across Australia and New Zealand before joining Craigs Investment Partners in Tauranga in mid 2019 and offering investment advice ever since.

BOP Education Trust chairman Nick Earl says Jonny brings youth to the trust, along with valuable experience in the field of banking and investments, which will enhance the trust board’s skillset.

Jonny joins the following members of the BOP Education Trust: Nick Earl, Tom Beswick, Richard Dey, Roger Loveridge, John Revington, Peter Tootell. Terri Eggleton resigned as a Trustee in May this year.

Nathan Wins Again

It really does pay to join our BOP Education Trust Scholarship Alumni page. Just ask Nathan White.

The Whakatane-based engineer entered our competition that was open to former scholarship winners who had recently joined the alumni Facebook page. Nathan won $250 for his trouble.

Nathan said at the time that he planned to spend his winnings on football gear – he’s joined the Whakatane Town AFC.

Employment opportunities have meant a return to Whakatane for Nathan.  He went to Whakatane High School before heading off to Auckland to gain a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), specialising in Civil Engineering. He worked as a Resident Advisor (RA) for the University of Auckland during his third and fourth years of study and for two summers at engineering consultancy firm WSP Whakatane as an intern. That internship led to full time employment.

Nathan says being a BOP Education Trust scholarship winner helped him to afford to buy all the tools needed to achieve at university, such as books and his laptop, with some spare going towards his papers.

“I would like to thank the BOP Education Trust again for providing not only this voucher and scholarship, but for the support network that they have created in this region encouraging further education,”

Nathan says.

Be like Nathan! Join the BOP Education Trust’s Facebook alumni group.

Nathan White

Leading the way into the Future

The BOP Education Trust does more than offer scholarships – it’s also big on growing future leaders.

2021 Scholarship Recipients

If you – as a scholarship recipient – would like to be involved as a guest speaker (in person or by zoom) at one of the trust’s Future Leaders’ programme gatherings please touch base with programme facilitator Phil Laurence.

Phil, who can be contacted on, would love to hear from any alumni with an inspirational or leadership-focused story to share.

The programme (specifically designed for the trust) benefits the selected students by helping them to:

  • Understand how people learn to lead
  • Integrate the best leadership learning practices into their personal development
  • Consciously review their progress toward becoming a better leader
  • Select the kinds of development activities that best fit their needs
  • Write a personal plan for the next steps in their leadership development
  • Apply their learning to real-life leadership challenges.

Phil says leadership development is ultimately self- development. The programme aims to inspire and motivate participants to take on leadership roles within their respective schools and communities.

Those currently involved (some of whom are pictured here) are: Isabela Bunyon, ACG; Mowai Eruera, Te Wharekura O Mauao; Spencer Wills and Tiana Cartwright, Aquinas College; Marguerite Johansson, Bethlehem College; Brad McIIroy, Edgecumbe College; Lavleen Kaur, Katikati College; Neve Ganley and Benjamin Lindsey, Mt Maunganui College; Te Auepo Bennett-Tai of Ōpōtiki College; Jackson Runa, Otumoetai College; Emilie Rillstone, Papamoa College; Matariki Turuwhenua and Gabriel Madcalfe, Tarawera High School; Taine Larson, Tauranga  Boys’ College; Rose Bruning and Hunter Ririunui, Tauranga Girls’ College; Ainsley Ashe, Te Puke High School; James Elliffee, Whakatane High School.

The Year 13 students who have returned for their second and final year on the programme are: Libby Manning, Aquinas College; Cayla Warner, Bethlehem College; Benjamin McBeth, Edgecumbe College; Grace Fotheringhame, Katikati College; Hirini Gerrard, Ōpōtiki College; Rachel Dunn, Otumoetai College; Opal Herbert, Tarawera High School; Tarifa Laban and Olivia Banfield, Tauranga Girls’ College; Jordan Toy, Tauranga Boys’ College; Paul Taylor, Te Puke High School; Malachi Gerrard and Lexi Paige, Trident High School; and Alice Blakeway, Whakatane High School.



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