Engineering New Zealand Foundation Grant Programme applications are opening soon. Alyce Lysaght, a 2023 grant recipient, discusses her experience of applying for the grant and how she’s put it to use.

It may still be early in her career, but Alyce’s contributions to engineering in Aotearoa are multifaceted. In addition to her full-time position as a Graduate Water Engineer at WSP she’s recently served a term on the Te Ao Rangahau Board and hosts the Māori in Engineering podcast, which she launched back in 2021.

It was to help continue developing her podcast that Alyce received a grant from the Engineering New Zealand Foundation – which should be noted was applied for and received before she was appointed to the Board.

“It’s an interview-based podcast about elevating Māori engineers and uplifting their voices through kōrero,” said Alyce. “I saw at university there was not a lot of Māori visibility in the engineering space and I felt that it was important for there to be. So I became interested in what that might look like as the industry moves towards, I hope, a more Te Tiriti-centric practice.”

Alyce learned about the grant on LinkedIn and found that the Foundation’s values really aligned with the podcast. “I loved that the application asked me to explain how my project aligned with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – I’ve never seen that in a grant application before,” she said. “The application process was super easy and just going through it was actually beneficial in itself. I had to figure out a business plan for the podcast and clarify what I wanted to achieve and what I would need to do that.”

Alyce is a one-person production team – on top of hosting the show, she secures guests, runs the equipment, does the editing and uploads the content – so the whole thing has been a learning experience. “I do feel like I’m at the University of Google sometimes,” said Alyce. “I’m continuously learning.”


Alyce Lysaght, Māori in Engineering creator and host

Receiving the grant has provided an opportunity for Alyce to improve production value, allowing her to invest in new equipment and software, and no longer pay out of pocket to host the website. “Another great thing about it is that I’ve been able to hire an amazing wahine Māori to help me with graphics and design,” she said. ”So the content I’ve been putting out looks a bit nicer.”

But the most significant benefit has been being able to pay her guests for their time – a rarity in the podcast world. “A lot of the conversations I was having with my guests were about the fact that mātauranga Māori should be adequately remunerated and I was asking people to share their own story that comes with that,” said Alyce. “So I just didn’t feel like it was fair not to pay them for their insights.”

With the financial pressure eased, Alyce can focus on growing the podcast and thinking about finding it a long-term home. “At the moment the grant is enough that the podcast can be sustained for a while longer while I figure things out,” said Alyce. “My challenge now is going out and seeing who would like to support that further. It helps that receiving the grant has shown that there is a need for something like this – that there’s value in it.”

For future applicants, Alyce’s advice is to have good clarity on what the ultimate motivation is behind your project. “Knowing the why, and what the ultimate impact will be of what you’re setting out to achieve – that kind of reflection really strengthens your application and will help your project regardless of whether or not you receive the grant.”

Applications for the Engineering New Zealand Foundation Grant Programme open on Monday 1 July.