Blake DOC Ambassadors Announced
Media Release
October 31, 2018

Five young New Zealanders will be packing their bags and heading into the environment this summer after each winning a Blake DOC Ambassador Award.

Through the Sir Peter Blake Trust’s partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC), the following young people have been given the opportunity to take part in conservation and restoration projects around New Zealand.

Otago University students Aidan Braid and Skye Anderson will join DOC rangers and partners on the Rotoiti Nature Recover Project (RNRP) during February 2019. Skye will also assist DOC rangers as part of the ‘Save our iconic Kiwi’ programme in March.

Philippa Hallidayfrom Auckland, will assist DOC in the Resolution Island Restoration Programme in Dusky Sound to help restore the native flora and fauna during November.

Sarah Manktelow (Otago University) and Anna Zam from Auckland will work with DOC’s Kākāpō Recovery team to protect the critically endangered kākāpō from 9-23 January 2019.

These programmes are designed to both advance their understanding of some of the big questions and challenges facing the environment, and their leadership capability to drive positive change and inspire other New Zealanders.

James Gibson, CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust says “these programmes offer young New Zealanders unique opportunities to contribute to DOC’s biodiversity work while advancing their career opportunities and inspiring others.

“By getting out in the field with world-class experts, our Ambassadors develop invaluable skills, relationships and leadership qualities that can influence their future pathway,” says Gibson.

Ben Reddiex, DOC’s Director Community Engagement, says, “New Zealand’s biodiversity is in crisis, with more than 4000 of our precious native species at risk or threatened with extinction. I have no doubt the Blake Trust ambassadors will use their experience working alongside DOC staff to become leaders in conservation and boost New Zealand’s collective efforts to restore our threatened species to healthy populations.”

The Sir Peter Blake Trust, in partnership with Department of Conservation (DOC), Antarctica New Zealand, NIWA and Tara Expeditions, are announcing 14 Ambassadorships in total this summer.


  • ENDS


Blake DOC Ambassador – Nelson Lakes Award

Aidan Braid and Skye Anderson (Otago University)

February 2019

In this role Aidan (20) and Skye (22) will work with DOC rangers and partners on the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP), one of the original six mainland islands set up in the mid-1990s to test pest control methods and establish best practice for DOC operations. Work will include predator trapping (for stoats, cats and possums), monitoring of trapping effort (tracking tunnels), native species monitoring (kea, robins, whio, snails), helping in one of the largest wasp control operations in the world, kiwi health checks, maintenance of equipment and data entry.

Taking place in Nelson Lakes National Park, RNRP is a long-term ecosystem restoration project. It is based in 5000 hectares of alpine beech forest alongside Lake Rotoiti. The project has a strong focus on ecological science, and in sharing lessons learnt. This opportunity allows a direct insight into current best-practice species work. It offers a unique experience working with innovative landscape-scale pest control techniques.

Aidan bio:

Aidan has a deep passion for nature, which developed from his time spent exploring the great outdoors. Aidan is studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Botany and minoring in Ecology at the University of Otago. He has previously gained a Certificate in Arboriculture at Otago Polytechnic and worked for a year as a Utility Arborist. In 2016, Aidan travelled to the Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands as part of the Young Blake Expedition. In the future, he hopes to combine his knowledge from these disciplines to make a positive difference. Aidan enjoys volunteering and trains as a member of the Dunedin Red Cross Disaster Welfare Support Team, along with facilitating a youth emergency preparedness program he was once a participant of. He is honoured and excited to be a Blake DOC Ambassador, and plans on making the absolute most out of his experience by learning all he can and assisting in every way possible

Skye bio:

Skye, 22, is currently completing her Bachelor of Science with Honours (Ecology) at the University of Otago. Her thesis is investigating the relationship between past-land use activities and stream health in a remote high-country area in Central Otago. Born in the United States to a veterinarian and a wildlife biologist, Skye lived two years in a tropical rainforest in the Ivory Coast in West Africa, before moving to New Zealand with her family at 11 years old. Skye grew up in an environment where wildlife and conservation were integral parts of her life and thus, her love for animals started from a very young age. Skye was lucky enough to gain valuable work experience at the San Diego Zoo which fuelled her passion for educating the community on the importance of conservation and protection of the environment.

In her free time Skye loves to get outdoors to swim, bike, camp and tramp around the beautiful areas in New Zealand. Studying in Otago gave Skye opportunities to get involved in the local community, doing voluntary beach clean ups and helping with yellow-eyed penguin monitoring in the Otago region. Skye also volunteered at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch which is a reserve dedicated to the conservation of native species. Skye received a summer research scholarship during her studies and worked on a large restoration project in Central Otago with Associate Professor, Christoph Matthaei.

Skye is beyond honoured to be a Blake Ambassador in 2019. She plans to use this opportunity to contribute to conservation in New Zealand and to inspire others to develop an understanding and appreciation for New Zealand’s unique environment.

Skye quote:

“I am beyond proud to have been selected as a Blake DOC Ambassador for 2018 as it is an amazing opportunity. I am so excited to work alongside experienced DOC rangers and learn more about conservation efforts in New Zealand. I hope to use this experience to share with others the importance of protecting our unique species and beautiful environment.”

Blake DOC Ambassador – Kākāpo Recovery, Anchor Island

Sarah Manktelow (Otago) and Anna Zam (Auckland)

9 – 23 January 2019

In this role Sarah (20) and Anna (23) will work with DOC’s Kākāpō Recovery team to protect the critically endangered Kākāpo.  They will assist with DOC’s Supplementary Feed Out programme prior to the Kākāpō breeding season. These Ambassadors will be spending most of their time outdoors, walking all over the island in what can be demanding conditions. Work will include topping up feeding stations and monitoring how much each bird has eaten, data entry, maintenance of equipment, checking traps as part of their biosecurity system, and potentially assisting with the setup of nest camps.

There are only 148 Kākāpō remaining which are all located on predator free islands. The two main breeding islands are Whenua Hou / Codfish Island off the coast of Rakiura / Stewart Island and Pukenui / Anchor Island in Dusky Sound. DOC’s vision is to restore the mauri (life force) of Kākāpō by having at least 150 adult females.

Sarah bio:

Sarah is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science degree studying Ecology, Marine Science, and Music at the University of Otago, where she received a Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship. With a multidisciplinary degree, Sarah has been exposed to a wide range of academic literature and thought, and she is currently an active member of various university groups, including the Students for Environmental Action group.

Much of Sarah’s childhood was spent adventuring across the Aotearoa land and sea scapes, tramping, kayaking, navigating, and swimming. The initial joy Sarah received from exploring the local Kiwi backyard has transformed into a deep passion for developing a better understanding of how people interact with, depend on, and need to protect the fragile environment. Sarah has experience with wildlife conservation as a volunteer at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, as well as working alongside DOC volunteers to carry out routine Kiwi check-ups in the Kaweka Ranges.

Sarah has competed at a national level for various sports, including adventure racing and swimming, and has achieved highly in visual art, including recently receiving a Painting Excellence award at the Otago University’s Art Week. Sarah hopes to combine her strengths in ecological and marine sciences, outdoor pursuits, and artistic means, to help communicate and engage with people to promote environmental protection and sound management. Currently she is finding creative ways to communicate important environmental issues through thought-provoking art works.

Sarah is proud to be a Blake DOC Ambassador, and she plans to use her experience to be a role model for the type of sustainable future she thinks is achievable.

Anna bio:

Anna is a recent graduate of the University of Auckland. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Law, Politics and International Relations from the University of Auckland, with academic excellence and leadership awards including the University Blue. She has experience working as a Legal Research Consultant, as a Teaching and Research Assistant in International Law, and was the United Nations Youth Global Development Tour Assistant Director. She is a 2018 Global Women Young Leader and an Asia-New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network member.

Anna is of I-Kiribati and Chinese heritage which has sparked her interest early on on environmental sustainability. She is interested in understanding culturally competent ways of engaging with indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities on climate action. Her parent’s backgrounds dealing with climate change-induced immigration, and her experiences growing up on a dairy farm in Kumeu, has informed a lot of her decisions to look into innovative solutions of sustainability for businesses. She is currently involved in the Velocity programme’s Women in Innovation group and had prior success solving a sustainability problem for Yealand’s Winery. Anna is a long time volunteer of native regeneration projects in her local community around Lake Wainamu.

Awaiting admission as a junior barrister, Anna runs CODR, a legal tech start-up. She is interested in the disruption potential of the excursion and hopes the DOC ambassadorship will raise awareness of the need for all professions to realise their role to play in the greater ecological challenge.

Anna quote:

“Being selected as a DOC Ambassador is an exciting opportunity for me to experience, for the first time, a conservation programme. This is outside my day-to-day activities as a law clerk. I’m looking forward to joining the team over summer witnessing the magic of the Kakapo breeding programme on Whenua Hou Island. I believe that New Zealanders value biodiversity and our native birds are an important part of what makes New Zealand unique. I hope through the work with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, to be able to inspire other young New Zealanders to take up environmental leadership – even if this is very different to what they are familiar with.”

Blake DOC Ambassador – Save our iconic Kiwi, Fiordland

Skye Anderson (Otago)

March 2019

In this role Skye (22) will assist DOC rangers as part of the ‘Save our iconic Kiwi’ programme with the aim of turning the widespread decline of Kiwi populations into growth. The work involves catching un-transmitted Kiwi at night by playing kiwi calls and waiting for kiwi to investigate. They are then fitted with radio transmitters and released. There may also be some day work checking up on kiwi, as well as infrastructure work such as track cutting or marking.

In Fiordland, most Kiwi are currently unprotected in remote areas. DOC’s most efficient tool to control the predators that threaten Kiwi in these areas is aerially applied 1080, however they need evidence that this tool alone will work for Fiordland birds in the Fiordland environment, and how best to use it. This means monitoring a sample population of Kiwi before and after 1080 application at Shy Lake in western Fiordland. This research helps inform future predator control.

Skye bio and quote as above.

Blake DOC Ambassador – Fiordland Restoration Programme, Dusky Sound

Philippa Halliday (Auckland)

6 – 13 November 2018

In this role Philippa (24) will assist DOC in the Resolution Island Restoration Programme in Dusky Sound. Philippa will be required to walk stoat traplines on steep and mountainous terrain and check, clear and rebait stoat traps. Some stoat traps will be serviced from a small dinghy. At times she may be required to undertake some fauna monitoring.

The aim of the Resolution Island Restoration Programme is to restore the native flora and fauna on the island creating an ecosystem that can act as a restoration site for vulnerable endangered native species. To date stoat trapping has controlled stoats to very low levels and many threatened species have been introduced back to islands in the area

Philippa bio:

Pippa Halliday studied Food Technology at Massey University, where she was a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Academic Merit List. Her honours project looked at how to utilise the waste stream of New Zealand wine production, grape pomace.  During a semester abroad in Ireland she studied the sustainability, both environmental and socio-economic, of healthy eating on our planet.

Her passion for New Zealand’s flora and fauna was instilled from a young age, where the importance of conservation was highlighted in all areas of her hobbies, including tramping, skiing, sailing and orienteering.  She was awarded her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and Queen’s Scout award, where she spent time volunteering on Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington building paths for DOC, running trapping lines in the Eastbourne hills, completing Coast to Coast and collectively raising $14,000 for charity in a relay swim across the length of Lake Taupo.

She now works for Goodman Fielder and is involved in several projects in the Research and Development team looking at reducing plastic and food waste.  She is in training to become a volunteer guide on Tiritiri Matangi Island, a predator free island in the Hauraki Gulf.  Pippa hopes to use the knowledge and conservation experience she gains during her time as a Blake Ambassador in Dusky Sound to educate others and apply to other conservation initiatives closer to home.

Philippa quote:

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such an ambitious and successful conservation initiative.  Resolution Island and the surrounding sounds is one of NZ’s last almost unmodified environments, and I am excited to be involved in the ongoing efforts to eradicate the pests that threaten to change the wildlife there. I hope to learn about the history and struggles we have faced in the area, about the flora and fauna and practical skills from the experienced rangers I will be working with.”

For more information please contact Jacob Anderson [email protected] 021 102 5246