Our People

ZEALANDIA is managed by Karori Sanctuary Trust, a not-for-profit community-led organisation. The Trust’s official vision is to be a world-class conservation site portraying our natural heritage that captures people’s imagination, understanding and commitment.

Six trustees, chosen for their appropriate range and balance of skills and experience to ensure the sound management of the Trust and to assist the Trust in achieving its objectives, are appointed by Wellington City Council with guidance from the Guardians of the sanctuary. The Trust also has three patrons who were involved in its establishment.

The establishment of the Trust in 1995 was a radical idea and a major breakthrough in the conservation and recovery of native wildlife on mainland New Zealand, reversing a decline that has lasted for at least 700 years. The Trust’s groundbreaking achievements in urban ecological restoration; the eradication of invasive species; and the recovery of endangered native wildlife exceeded all expectations in its first ten years.

Karori Sanctuary Trust logo




The Trust has six trustees, chosen for their range and balance of skills and experience. See Trustees.



The Trust has a team of Guardians who safeguard the long-term vision of the Trust. See Guardians.



The Trust has three Patrons who were involved in its establishment. See Patrons.

Staff & Volunteers


ZEALANDIA has a small team of staff who work with over 500 volunteers to provide a safe environment for our native species and a world-class nature experience for our visitors. The Strategic Management Team are listed below:

Paul Atkins
Chief Executive

Chris Fitzgerald
Manager Commercial Development

Danielle Shanahan
Manager Conservation & Research

Anastasia Turnbull
Manager Learning & Engagement

Matthew Valentine
Manager Corporate Services

For contact details see here.



Six trustees, chosen for their appropriate range and balance of skills and experience to ensure the sound management of the Trust and to assist the Trust in achieving its objectives, are appointed by Wellington City Council with guidance from the Guardians of the sanctuary. The Trust also has three patrons who were involved in its establishment.

 Denise Church 

Denise Church (QSO), Chair

Denise is a Wellington based company director and consultant. She has been chair of the Karori Sanctuary Trust Board since 2013 and is also Chair of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research. Denise was Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment from 1996 to 2001, and before that was Public Affairs Director for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK. She has an active interest in conservation, science, education and youth development and the sanctuary’s kākā are regular visitors to her Kelburn garden.

Contact Denise at chair@visitzealandia.com.

 David Bibby 

Professor David Bibby (CNZM, PhD, DSc)

Professor Bibby was awarded the CNZM in June 2015 for ‘services to science and education’. This has comprised a 40-year career in science, management and education, including 10 years at Victoria University of Wellington as Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Science, Engineering, Architecture and Design. He has also been Acting Head of the School of Economics and Finance at VUW, during which time he was lecturing in the faculty of Business and the faculty of Science.

 Jo Breese 

Jo Breese

Jo’s career has focussed on conservation of natural and cultural heritage working both in New Zealand and Asia Pacific. Jo has been involved in many projects in New Zealand and also in UNDP programmes in Vietnam and Malaysia. She served two 3-year terms as a member of the NZ Conservation Authority. Prior to this Jo was on the board of Antarctica New Zealand (New Zealand’s Antarctic Research Institute). She was Chief Executive of WWF-NZ between 1999 and 2006 and, before that, was for 6 years the Chief Executive of Booksellers NZ. Jo has a good understanding of mātauranga Māori and is a Crown appointee to the inaugural Te Urewera Board.


 Phillip Meyer 

Phillip Meyer (FAIM, Life FNZIM, CF Inst D, F Fin)

Phillip Meyer is an experienced company director and investment banker. He has chaired many Boards and currently chairs four organisations including the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association, Australian Financial Services Group, Trans-Tasman Business Circle Wellington and is a director of CRS Software Limited and Crimestoppers. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors, Life Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management, Fellow and Councillor of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. Phillip’s drive to see other organisations succeed led him to be a course facilitator for the Institute of Directors.


 Pete Monk 

Pete Monk

Pete Monk has served two terms on the board of Positively Wellington Tourism, was Head of Marketing for Interislander, General Manager of Fly Buys, and Chief Executive in IT and manufacturing ventures. Pete currently manages Ata Rangi, a Martinborough vineyard, in tandem with his own photography business specialising in landscapes and nature. He is also chairman of Toast Martinborough, and treasurer of Featherston Booktown Trust. Pete has an active interest in nature and conservation. He contributed in the past as a transitional manager at ZEALANDIA, holds life membership of Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust, and is involved in a voluntary capacity with other conservation organisations and initiatives.


 Russell Spratt 

Russell Spratt

Russell has achieved considerable success delivering results across the public, private and NGO sectors. He is of Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga descent. Russell is involved in numerous Māori trusts at governance level and is also the pan-tribal representative on the Kapiti Coast District Council’s Corporate Business Committee, a member of the Economic Development Management Group and a member of the Māori Economic Development panel. In addition to having knowledge of bi-cultural issues, Russell is an MBA graduate with significant expertise in the education sector.


Glen Scanlon (IOD Future Director Programme

Glen is RNZ’s head of news and digital. He spent five years in London when media began to fully embrace digital platforms, working primarily at The Guardian and CNN. In 2009 he returned to the  Waikato Times as its assistant editor before joining Stuff.co.nz the year after, becoming its editor in 2013. In late 2014 he joined RNZ as its head of digital.

Glen is on the board of governors of Canterbury University’s journalism course and has been a director of a family-owned company since 2002. In 2017 he was named the Canon Media Awards’ editorial executive of the year.





Our Guardians provide a long-term strategic perspective on the sanctuary’s evolution and have an active interest in the long term future of the Trust. Guardians are not required to bring a specific technical or professional skill, however knowledge and experience in areas relevant to the Trust’s mission are welcomed. These areas include education, conservation science and research, conservation and biodiversity management, and visitor experience.


Roy Sharp (Chair)

Roy is the former Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education Commission, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Canterbury and former Deputy Vice Chancellor at Victoria University. Roy has also been a volunteer guide at ZEALANDIA for several years.

Phone: 475 9945


Julia Bracegirdle

Julia has been volunteering at ZEALANDIA since1996 in a variety of capacities across conservation, education, and visitor experience. A long-time member of the ZEALANDIA community, Julia says her life has been enhanced in many ways through the animals and people she has met at the sanctuary. Julia has a degree in zoology and botany and until retirement was Deputy Principal at Kimi Ora Special Needs School. Her other activities  include  triathlon and dragon boating. Also she takes a keen interest in the predator free NZ concept and is proud to live in Crofton Downs, the first community to be declared predator free.

Email: j.bracegirdle@gmail.com


John Burnet

John has been a founder member since 1996 and an active volunteer guide for many years. In 2002 he was recruited to manage the conversion of the Visitor Centre from a weekend to a seven day operation. He has recently retired from a project management career within the banking industry and is running an apiary consultancy and supply business having been a keen beekeeper for over 30 years.

Phone: (04) 232 7863 or 027 4379 062

Dr. Peter Gilberd

Dr. Peter Gilberd is a Wellington City Councillor, who holds the Natural Environment and City Science portfolios. He trained as a scientist, has a research and teaching background in physics, and has worked in research funding with the Royal Society Te Apārangi. At a practical level, Peter is a passionate grower and planter of native trees, determined to extend the halo right through the northern suburbs of Wellington, to Newlands.

Phone:  027 614 1416

Jim Lynch, QSM

Jim is the originator of the sanctuary concept and founder of the Trust in the early 1990s. He has wide experience of ecology and conservation management at a national level and in 2001 was awarded the QSM for services to conservation in Wellington.

Phone: 04 293 5587

Kevin Mason

Kevin is a foundation member and a foundation guide. He continues to be an active volunteer guide. He is also a long standing member of the Tararua tramping club, a past Rotarian, and has a passion for our natural heritage and the great outdoors. He is an IT architect, and has Post Graduate Diploma’s in Management and Marketing.

Phone: 04 476 3069

Dr. Nicola Nelson

Dr. Nicola Nelson is an academic at Victoria University of Wellington in the School of Biological Sciences. Her research involves conservation biology, in particular, of reptiles. She is a founding member of the Sanctuary and helped to manage the tuatara translocation from Stephens Island.

Phone: 04 463 5435

Katie Underwood

Katie became involved with the Sanctuary as a founder member in 1996. Since then she has been a keen volunteer and casual staff member as part of the ZEALANDIA by Night team. She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Wildlife Management from Otago University.

Phone: 04 894 3717 or 027 248 2061




Sir Michael Hardie Boys, GNZM GCMG QSO KStJ


Sir Michael was born in Wellington, where after attending Hataitai School and Wellington College, he went on to Victoria University College, graduating BA, LlB. In 1995, he received the first GNZM awarded in 1996, and is a Knight of the Order of St John. He was New Zealand’s 17th Governor-General from 21 March 1996 to 21 March 2001, when he was awarded the Queen’s Service Order for Public Services.


Michael S Morris, ONZM


Michael is a chartered accountant by profession who has held senior directorship roles in many industries and has served on many boards in the private and community sector, chairing many of them. He was Chairman of the Karori Sanctuary Trust from 1995-2002 and since then has been Vice-Patron. In 1997 Michael received the award of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to business and the community.

Jim Lynch, QSM

Founder Vice-Patron

Jim was the originator and founder of the Trust in the early 1990’s. He has wide experience of ecology and conservation management at a national level and has designed large scale management systems and training programmes for major organisations. In 2001 he was awarded the QSM for services to conservation in Wellington. He is Chair of the Guardians and in November 2007 he was appointed Founder Vice-Patron.