Career opportunities for graduates, interns, and young people

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) offers scholarships and career development opportunities for rangatahi (young people) and others. Find out about those opportunities and how you can be a part of the primary sector.

You could be part of real change. As a leader. As kaitiaki.  As a guardian. As you.

We know you’re not just hoping for a better world to emerge, you want to lead the change.

What we value at MPI

Here at MPI we really value the unique perspective and experience of our motivated younger generations – our rangatahi. We also encourage those returning to study later in life. You are all the future leaders and change-makers of Aotearoa and the world.

We celebrate an inclusive and diverse workplace where difference is championed. We’re an employer of choice because of it. We can genuinely serve, grow, and protect Aotearoa if we’re representative of and speaking for our diverse population. We need to be able to connect with our stakeholders through a greater understanding. We need to be trusted as a genuinely representative voice that can deliver for all New Zealanders. And we want that to include you.

We're a hub for policy, innovation, thought, regulation, and change. Our work stretches from paddock, orchard, forest, and the oceans. We're about promoting innovation, encouraging new technologies and investing in scientific research. Our work cuts through the processing, packaging, and transportation system, all the way to market, and ultimately to consumers worldwide. The breadth of the primary industries offers exciting careers. And Manatū Ahu Matua – MPI - is at the heart of the industry.

Get a career boost at MPI

MPI can help you get your career moving through our partnerships, scholarships, internships, and graduate programme.

Find out about:

TupuToa and Tupu Tai

The TupuToa logo

We are a proud major partner of the TupuToa Internship Programme. This is an innovative programme creating pathways for Māori and Pasifika students into careers in the corporate and professional sectors. Each year we welcome a number of TupuToa interns to join MPI for a 3-month internship. 

TupuToa seeks to ensure corporate Aotearoa is representative of our country, by developing and empowering our people and building the cultural capability of our partners.  TupuToa programmes aim to address the persistent inequalities facing Māori and Pasifika communities and disrupt intergenerational disadvantage.

Building cultural capability.

Tupu Tai Pasifika Public Sector Summer Internship Programme

MPI also host interns as part of the Tupu Tai Pasifika Public Sector Summer Internship Programme.  Tupu Tai is an interagency government initiative that offers you the opportunity to explore career pathways, build confidence as a Pasifika professional, and see what it’s like working for government.

GirlBoss New Zealand and MPI

We have a partnership with GirlBoss New Zealand, a social enterprise working to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, maths, entrepreneurship and leadership.

With our help they’ve run a series of summits in schools across Aotearoa and a trailblazing online programme.

In 2016, the primary sector was 66% male and 34% female. In 2020, we worked with over 400 young wāhine to grow their confidence and help them find ways to use their voices to effect positive change in one of the country’s most important industries.


"The GirlBoss Edge programme enabled me to see there was a whole new world of opportunities in the Primary Industries, an industry which I previously saw as just cows and farmers. I can now envision myself in as a future innovator and protector of our environment. The career modules mean that now I can translate my passions and skills into something I can broadcast and sell, ending up with a whole lot of opportunities that will get me closer to my dream university or job. I also now am part of a network of girls who will support me through my journey with the same passions as me.”

The Activator Award

Each year, MPI also sponsors an Activator Award in the GirlBoss Awards, a nationwide search for entrepreneurial young wāhine (aged 11 to 18 years) who are defying stereotypes and creating change in their communities. The Activator Award celebrates a GirlBoss who takes action, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, and lets her strength and determination lead the way in a primary industry related field.   

MPI scholarships

We know that balancing study with everything else you have going on is hard yards. We support a range of scholarships and awards that may help you.

Ngā karahipi uru rākau (forestry scholarships)

Available for Māori and/or female students enrolling in a Bachelor of Forestry Science or Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Forest Engineering at University of Canterbury. The scholarships are valued at $8,000 per year for a 4-year degree, plus internships.

Fisheries New Zealand scholarship

Available to both Masters and undergraduate students in the fields of fisheries science and marine biology.

MPI's Graduate Development Programme

Join MPI's award-winning grad programme as a permanent member of our team and launch a rewarding career – driving sustainability, prosperity and protecting our taonga as well as our industries.

Video – Te hōtaka whakapakari ā MPI (1.44)

Video – Te hōtaka whakapakari ā MPI (1.44)

Who our grad programme is looking for

We want to hear from you if you:

  • are knowledgeable and passionate about the primary sector
  • are interested in protecting Aotearoa’s biosecurity system
  • are enthusiastic, adaptable and willing to learn
  • want to become a kaitiaki of New Zealand’s taonga.

What you can expect in the grad programme

It’s a real job, doing real work, making a real difference.  As one of our grads, you'll work in a variety of areas, like biosecurity, forestry, fisheries, food, response, regulation, or policy.

You'll have 3 work rotations of about 6 months each in different parts of MPI. Rotations may include regions (like Nelson, Christchurch, or Auckland) as well as Wellington.

Then, we'll help to align your interests and goals to one of the many careers on offer. 

The grad programme will prepare you with the experience and insight you need to launch your MPI career. We invest in you. Why? Because you’re one of us.  You’re whānau.

Things to consider

You'll need:

  • a recent tertiary qualification (applicants should have graduated no more than 2 years before the start of the programme)
  • to be a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident, or be an Australian citizen  
  • strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • clear, confident communication skills
  • sound relationship management abilities
  • a collaborative working style.

We don’t expect you to have a wealth of industry knowledge or experience.  It’s not enough to just love NZ, we are looking for your unique identifier, your pūtāutu ahurei. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a one-size-fits-all mould to make it here at MPI – in fact, what makes you different is what makes you special and that’s what we are looking for. We want to hear about:

  • your identification with your community and/or iwi
  • your knowledge of language other than English
  • if you’ve done voluntary or community work
  • your experience leading, coaching or mentoring others for example in a sports team, volunteer group or academically
  • other ways in which you are involved in or identify with your community of origin.

How to apply for the grad programme

Applications open 26 July 2021 and close 15 August 2021.

Apply for the Graduate Development Programme

Grad stories

Maggie Tapa (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Raukawa)

Maggie Tapa.

"I studied a Bachelor of Science with majors in geography and cultural anthropology at Victoria University. When I was nearing the end of my studies, I wasn’t sold on a particular career, so I decided to apply for the MPI graduate programme to get exposure to possibilities in the primary sector and government in general.

I started off in an operational policy team in Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand). In this rotation I worked on an operational review of how forest fires are managed in New Zealand, which involved a countrywide tour, speaking to a range of forestry businesses. I also had the opportunity to represent MPI at a cross-agency workshop hosted by Scion Research Institute. This gave me immense exposure to MPI stakeholders and gave me a better understanding of the breadth of the primary sector.

My final rotation and current role are working in the sustainable land use team in regional economic development. Our team helps to provide farmers with the tools and support to be more sustainable and productive farmers. This role really enabled me to find my passion in supporting New Zealanders to provide better outcomes for their whãnau and communities.

One of the best parts about the programme is the development opportunities you are offered like the mentoring programme. These are super valuable at helping you grow and figure out where you want to take your career."

Sione Tuita-Alofi (‘Uiha and Lotofoa Ha’apai, Neiafu Vava’u (Tonga))

Sione Tuita-Alofi (second from left).

"I gained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in development studies with minors in Pacific studies and public policy at Victoria University of Wellington. 

My first rotation in the MPI grad programme was in regional economic development working with stakeholders in Northland on initiatives that would enhance the economic, social, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of the region funded predominately by the Provincial Growth Fund.

My second rotation was in border policy, working specifically on biosecurity and border policy issues. My final rotation (and now my permanent job) is in Māori Agribusiness which involves working with Māori landowners on initiatives which will increase the productivity of their land.

One the coolest things about being on the grad programme is that you’re a part of a group who are all getting their first taste of ‘work life’ together. As a part of the programme you receive support from a mentor and a buddy, and you get to meet other graduates from both the public and private sectors. The grad trips are also an awesome chance to better understand what MPI does, and how MPI works with stakeholders on the ground."

Toni Wi (Ngāti Maniapoto)

Toni Wi

"I came into the programme with a science background and an interest in policy. My iwi is Ngāti Maniapoto, and I went to university in Christchurch and Dunedin. I decided to apply for the grad programme because of an interest in the primary industries and the chance to try out a bunch of different roles. I had three really great rotations across climate change, fisheries, and forestry, working in different areas of policy which helped me to figure out what I enjoyed and how I liked to work.

My favourite part of the programme was having a mentor and the relationships you make across the organisation, including within your own cohort. I’ve met so many amazing people through the programme and got to go to some amazing places – all across New Zealand, the sub-Antarctic Islands, and even the sea ice of East Antarctica. Now, I’m a policy analyst in the international fisheries management team and loving the cross-cutting work of international policy."

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Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi

— When the old net is cast aside, the new net goes fishing

Tautua nei mo sou manuia a taeao

— Serve now for a better tomorrow (Samoan)

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