Skip to content

2023 Seminar Speakers


Nick Ledgard (Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group and BRaid) is a retired forestry researcher (Scion/NZFRI) returning to ornithological roots put out as a youngster. He is a long-time OSNZ member. Currently, he spends most of his time trying to improve the lot of native birds on braided rivers (particularly on the Ashley-Rakahuri River) and pursuing his interests in farm forestry and wilding trees. He is the chairman of the Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group and BRaid.

Greg Stanley (Environment Canterbury)  is the leader of the Braided River Revival team at Environment Canterbury. This role involves the planning and delivery of multi-value projects in Canterbury’s braided rivers. Throughout the last three years, he has overseen the delivery of the Berm Transition Project, an ambitious project seeking to enhance and improve marginal areas in river berms, performing underplanting and extensive targeted weed control. The project also oversaw the removal of extensive areas of encroaching trees from several infested areas. Greg is a father, musician, and applied ecologist, passionate about local ecology and keen to share its value with the communities that share the space.

Shaun McCracken (Environment Canterbury) is a Chartered Engineer leading a team of river engineers and planners at Environment Canterbury. This role involves the delivery of flood protection to Canterbury communities through the design and management of stopbanks, vegetation, riverbed topography, and related works. Shaun is part of the national River Managers Special Interest Group which is a collection of Regional Council senior staff working in NZ rivers and is a committee member of the Engineering NZ Rivers Group.

Miles Burford (Environment Canterbury), started with the Department of Conservation (DOC) in the national terrestrial monitoring programme working as a biodiversity ranger and working with the DOC monitoring data and associated samples. He currently works for Environment Canterbury as a science analyst working with land ecologists. His current focus has been on building interactive visuals and increasing access to the nationally important DOC braided river survey dataset.

Dr. Jean Jack (Environment Canterbury), a land ecologist, provides advice to Ecan staff, particularly for consent processing. In the past: a student and tutor of ecology at Lincoln University where she gained a PhD in Ecology looking at Ecosystem Services of native plants in agricultural landscapes. Originally Jean is from Oakura in Taranaki with family connections back to Timaru & Lyttelton – where she now calls home.

Samantha Turner and Tom Goodman (Department of Conservation) are Biodiversity Rangers for Project River Recovery based in Twizel. They conduct research and monitoring in the braided rivers and wetlands of the Upper Waitaki Basin to benefit native plants and animals. Some of their current work is focussed on black-fronted terns, non-migratory galaxiids, Lakes skinks and threatened grasshoppers.

Megan Reid (Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao) is the Director for the Reimagining Mataura Project and the Kaihautū/General Manager for Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao. She is a change advisory, strategy, and service design expert. Megan has spent her career in the public sector, working at senior executive levels for the past decade, across the social and environmental sectors. Megan ensures that the successes of Kaupapa Taiao are built on, and that the team has multiple connections back to the community and beyond, providing excellent environmental services.

Louise Dennison (Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao) is the Programme Coordinator for the Reimagining Mataura Project. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and geography. Louise is a recent graduate with a passion for the environment and a strong connection to the Mataura River having grown up in Gore. She coordinates the day-to-day running of the Reimagining Mataura Project, including leading engagement with stakeholder groups.

Riki Parata (Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao) is the Kaiārihi Taiao/Environmental Lead for Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao. He is an invaluable asset to Kaupapa Taiao, the Hokonui Rūnanga, and its wider takiwā due to his knowledge and leadership skills. His passion for the environment and ability to think outside of the box allowed him to establish Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao in 2020. He continues to lead the environmental and cultural advisory team and leads the freshwater monitoring workstream.

Lex Evans (Arowhenua)

Dr Frances Schmechel (Environment Canterbury) has been involved with braided rivers and shorebirds (wader species) since she moved to NZ in the early 1990s. She studied Chatham Island oystercatchers as part of her thesis while at Lincoln University, and has since been involved with waders via the black stilt recovery programme, braided river bird surveys, as a member of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Braided River birds, and is currently involved via her work at Environment Canterbury where she helps to implement the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) and manages one of the Regional Flagship Programmes for Braided Rivers.

Sarah Thwaites (Boffa Miskell) is a Biosecurity Project Coordinator with Boffa Miskell and works on several significant biosecurity projects including the LINZ Biosecurity Control Works Programme. Within this programme, Sarah supports the Rakaia and Rakitata weed control operations, and leads on the Upper Rakaia River Predator Control Programme, which focusses on the protection of black-fronted tern and wrybill. Sarah is also currently studying towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Biosecurity and Conservation.

Dr Jaz Morris (Boffa Miskell) is an ecologist at Boffa Miskell based in Christchurch who specialises in terrestrial ecology and botanical survey. Jaz frequently works alongside land managers and Boffa Miskell’s biosecurity consultant team to identify and prioritise pest plant issues. He is passionate about realistic, effective and appropriate control approaches to tackle weeds and to enable ecological restoration and protection of indigenous habitats..

Rasmus Gabrielsson (Fish & Game) is a wildlife manager and fishery scientist, and since 2019 the CEO of the North Canterbury Fish & Game Council. In previous roles as a researcher and environmental consultant (at Otago University and the Cawthron Institute) he has primarily focused on: recreational fishery and waterfowl management, freshwater fish recruitment and migration patterns, improving water policy and resource management, management of cumulative effects of agriculture on aquatic ecosystems, and quantifying the response of fish populations to water abstraction and land use practices.

Dr Shayne Galloway (Galloway Recreation Research) is an independent researcher and consultant specializing in recreation resource management with an emphasis on place meaning and attachment. His early research examined the motivations and preferences of recreation activity participants, as well as constraints to participation for a range of water-based activities on New Zealand rivers. As a consultant, observing the direct connection and potential conflict between affordance of place and meaning created through human interaction with place has refocused his research toward the multifaceted phenomena of place and physical affordance. He is currently developing GIS models to illustrate and examine place meaning, human behaviour, and the affordance of the physical environment with regional data. 

Dr Colin O’Donnell (Department of Conservation) a Principal Science Advisor for DOC based in Ōtautahi. He been working on braided river wildlife since the late 1970s, particularly on fauna surveys and habitat use studies of river birds. He maintains a number of long-term monitoring databases for braided river bird populations. Colin’s research focuses on threatened species and threatened ecosystems, especially the ecology of rainforest bats and birds, developing predator control techniques for forests, wetlands, braided rivers, and alpine ecosystems, and developing monitoring methods for lizards and invertebrates.

Adrian Meredith (Environment Canterbury) studied the ecology and physiology of galaxiid fish at University of Canterbury and their unique abilities to cope with the Canterbury Environment.  He then worked for MAF Fisheries researching native larval fish dynamics in the Waikato River and the effects of thermal power generation on river fish communities including everything from eels, to whitebait to mullet.  The rest of his career has involved science advice in local government (Waikato and Canterbury) with a strong emphasis on sustainable management particularly for fish communities, and in particular ecological bottlenecks or limitations. Fish passage, critical fish habitats, and fish exclusion screening of intakes remain a strong theme.

John Innes (Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research: Hamilton) is a researcher who did an MSc on ship rats in 1977 and never looked back. In the four decades since, he has written rat chapters for three editions of The NZ Mammals Handbook, and studied interactions of mammal pests with valued fauna, especially birds. He has been involved with North Island kokako recovery for many years; is on the kakapo and takahe Recovery Groups, and was for a while on the kakī Recovery Group and involved with Project River Recovery. He is a close follower of the eco-sanctuary movement in all its forms. He nears his use-by date.

Brent Barratt (Boffa Miskell) started with the Department of Conservation as an ornithologist but in recent years has developed his career in the biosecurity sector.  He currently works for Boffa Miskell as a specialist in pest animal survey and control with a particular interest in landscape-scale approaches and programs with highly diverse trapping and baiting regimes.  He is currently heavily involved in aiding the development of new novel technology for pest animal tracking and control.

Dr. Anne Schlesselmann (Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research) is an ecologist with great interest, expertise, and enthusiasm for linking research with conservation management. From using genetics to ecological modelling, she enjoys addressing complex issues and engaging stakeholders in the process. Her current research encompasses questions around other limiting factors to populations of native forest birds and shore birds, investigating food limitation and consequences of movement of individuals between sites and/or populations.

Grant Davey (Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group) has been a mineral exploration geologist in six countries and was a hydrogeologist at Environment Canterbury for four years. He has a PGDip in Environmental Science. For about six years he’s been an active member of the Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group and BRaid.

Sonny Whitelaw (BRaid) has a background in coastal geomorphology and climate change, and has worked on environmental management projects in Vanuatu, Australia, and New Zealand. She was the joint winner (with Lincoln University, DOC, and Hurunui College) of the 2014 Supreme Green-Ribbon Award for the Nina Valley Ecoblitz. The author of several novels, she collaborated with over 100 children to produce the 227-page book Celebrating Biodiversity in the Hurunui District.  She splits her working life between managing BRaid and as a contract advisor on climate change.