Our People

Our Trustees

Cathy Katene (Chair)

Details to come…

Drew Castle (Deputy Chair)

Details to come…

Gloria Campbell

Gloria has been involved with TKT since 2014 with trap lines on family owned forestry blocks at Puniwhakau and Matau (eastern Stratford) covering approx. 645ha.  She has held various senior management jobs within the public service for over more than 42 years. She is currently the Regional Commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development.  This role involves the leadership of over 200 staff across Taranaki, King Country and Whanganui to achieve the purpose of supporting New Zealanders to be safe, strong and independent. A key pillar in this purpose revolves around the alignment of the economy and labour market with individuals seeking employment. So she has a history of caring for Kiwi in her paid job as well as in the weekends.

Bayley Sprott

After eight years working and studying in Wellington. Bayley returned home to New Plymouth in 2018. She now works as a lawyer at Connect Legal Taranaki. Being back in New Plymouth has given Bayley the opportunity to work professionally and volunteer in a region that is connected to her roots. One part of this was joining the Taranaki Kiwi Trust as a trustee board member in September 2020.

Mat Vujcich

Mathew and his wife own a beef farm adjacent to the National Park near Inglewood. He has been a resident of Taranaki for 5 years having shifted into the region from north of Auckland

Mat has extensive operational experience as a park ranger in pest eradication and reintroducing species to protected habitats. He regards kiwi as one of a number of special bird species that require human help to thrive in our current heavily modified natural environment. 

He believes that the answer lies with everyone in the community doing what they can as individuals in combination with landowners, volunteers and community groups.

Mat has a passion for restoring native habitat through tree planting. He and his wife have retired a third of their farm through QE11 covenants to provide corridors along waterways linking to the national park.

Sue Hardwick-Smith

See details below

Sam Hopkirk

See details below

Key Volunteers

Sue Hardwick-Smith

Accredited kiwi handler & trainer
Sue Hardwick-Smith, Accredited kiwi handler & trainer

Sue lives, breaths and sleeps kiwi, and is our longest standing trustee and volunteer. Her involvement stretches back to 2008, she has acted as both Treasurer and Chair in that time. Her part time job when not helping the trust is a sheep and beef farmer, her and husband of the year Tim, farm at Mangamingi in eastern Taranaki. They are owners of the Totara Block, the first release site for kiwi from the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare, and have three children. Sue has a Bachelor of Science majoring in Botany & Microbiology. As well as being an accredited kiwi handler and trainer for recreation, she is also part owner of a cafe near her home town Geraldine.

Sam Hopkirk

Accredited kiwi handler

Sam grew up with her family travelling around the Middle East and Africa and developed her love of wildlife and adventure then.  She studied Biology with an emphasis on Zoology and Ecology and always thought she would work with animals in Africa.  She then went on to study Physiotherapy and travelled to New Zealand with this.  She met a human kiwi, had plenty of adventures and mishaps, set up home and had three children.  Friends introduced her to Kiwi’s through an egg lift and she was hooked.  After volunteering and helping a kiwi handler she was invited to become a Trustee of the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and eventually became an accredited kiwi handler herself.  The adventure of searching for Kiwi in rugged terrain and being involved with wildlife has brought her the full circle.

Don Fields

Trap maintenance
Don Fields TKT trap Maintenance

Don was a holy terror when he was going to school.  He had 5 fiery red headed sisters that attacked and hen pecked him at every chance which made his younger years a challenge. Don left school and home at the ripe age of 14 and for the next 7 years did stints at farming, truck driving, clear felling native bush, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and all in all living a very free and easy life. The next 20 years saw Don getting married and 2 sons to be very proud of was all that was left of the marriage.  He had steady jobs in fertiliser, oil and gas, plus a stint at being a wharf carpenter. The wave recorder and jetties on the breakwater are still there today. Don eventually took redundancy from the oil and gas jobs as he reckons after 25 years of shift work he was grumpy enough.
Don then went and worked in Farm Merchant stores, but got sick of telling lies to sell stuff to farmers they didn’t require.
So after he met his buddy (Justine) they together started a business selling natural fertiliser and animal health. They by chance ran into a former TKT person that was looking for some volunteers to look after stoat traps in the Uruti Valley several years back. So along they went and about 7 years later still get excited about new kills.

Kevin Stokes

Accredited kiwi handler & trainer
Kevin Stokes Accredited kiwi handler & trainer

Kevin Stokes has been volunteering for the Taranaki Kiwi Trust for the past 12 years and is a very experienced kiwi practitioner and trainer. Kevin was a keen hunter back in the day and while he no longer hunts he now uses his bush navigation skills to track kiwi. Kevin has a passion for advocacy and loves sharing his kiwi passion and knowledge with his grandchildren and other tamariki.

Jenny Oakley

Accredited kiwi handler
Jenny Oakley Accredited kiwi handler​

Jenny is Taranaki born and bred, has gardened all her life and is married to Guy with three adult sons. Bachelor of Horticulture at Massey University lead to many landscaping/horticultural roles before retraining as a Certified Massage Therapist 10 years ago. The ‘Oakley Garden’ has been in the Taranaki Garden Festival for each of the 33 years since it began.  The Oakley’s enjoy tramping, cycling , anything outdoors. Jenny thoroughly enjoys the Kiwi work and has recently been signed off for Kiwi Handling and Transmitter changes.

Guy Oakley

Veterinarian
Guy Oakley TKT Veterinarian

Guy came to Taranaki 42 years ago to start work as a vet. He married Jenny not long after that. They enjoy doing outdoor activities, such as cycling, tramping and gardening. He has since retired but was not idle for long. Celine got hold of him and Jenny and suggested that they volunteer for TKT.
This has been a great experience for them both and they have enjoyed all aspects of kiwi work. Guy has managed to dust off some of his veterinary skills and has assisted with health screening of kiwi at Rotokare. Guy is close to being signed off as a kiwi handler.

Aimee Mason

FirstGas trapline coordinator
Aimee Mason FirstGas trapline coordinator TKT

Aimee is a “doer”, an “active relaxer”, an “energiser bunny”.  With her son becoming an adult, she felt the gap in the days widening and opportunities to pursue more interests coming available.    After a summer corralling friends to join her at least weekly for jaunts in the bush, she decided she may as well be useful while out there.  This lead to participating in the first release of kiwi on Te Maunga o Taranaki and becoming one of the 12 trackers.  Since then, Aimee has been involved in other tracking, kiwi surveys (she reckons she still cannot tell the difference between a kiwi and a morepork), locating birds for release and egg collections etc.  She pretty passionate about most things she does and now co-ordinates the sponsorship, people and ongoing activities for the 2 Firstgas (paid employment traplines).  This alone doesn’t keep her quite busy enough… she still has plenty of time to play netball, see friends, get in her large garden, volunteer, sew… yes the list keeps going!

Hamish McCook

Mangorei & Maude Tracks trapline coordinator
Hamish McCook TKT Tracks trapline coordinator

Hamish is a predator control trapper and coordinator for a keen team of volunteers on the Eastern side of the Pouakai Ranges.  He works in engineering and project management with Beca Ltd in New Plymouth and a number of his workmates have gotten involved too. He now coordinates a big happy team of trappers that look after both the Mangorei track and Maude track and the brand new track that connects Mangorei to Maude tracks. “I’ve really enjoyed forming connections with the other vollies and people from TKT and DOC. The passion for nature in this community is more infectious than the Delta variant.” He likes to stay fit swimming, running, biking, paddling, hunting or doing whatever life throws at him Hamish and his family really enjoy living in Taranaki and weekends often include outdoors adventures, playing or watching sports and catching up with friends.

Justine Peacock

Trap maintenance
Justine Peacock Trap maintenance TKT

Justine was raised a true, blue townie, but with a father that worked firstly on what is now known as Mt Taranaki and then for DOC in the Taranaki region, she developed an appreciation of the great outdoors at a young age.  After being forced to stay at school for a very long time (up to 7th form), she finally escaped and not knowing what she wanted to do as a career she ended up working in banking. She started off in the local New Plymouth branch and then ended up in Wellington head office for a while, eventually moving into computer programming.  After about 10 years in Wellington she moved back to Taranaki where she met Don.  They hit it off well and have now been together over 17 years and have enjoyed walking several half marathons and have done some long distance bike rides together.  They now both help each to run their own businesses.  One day Don suggested they get a quad bike… what the hell they were going to do with it in town I have no idea, but after meeting a lovely young lady from TKT several years back, they were introduced to the world of trap checking.  After a while one trapline led to another and another and now they’re looking after four lines in the Uruti Valley.  Several quad bikes, a light truck and caravan later and they’re all setup to do their monthly trap checks from the comfort of their home away from home.  Playing in the mud on her quad bike is now Justine’s favourite occupation and just in case you are wondering, Don always makes Justine go first so she can check the depth of the bog holes… tow ropes and other safety gear are a must for this job, but most importantly a great sense of humour! The thrill of the catch is what keeps them going back year after year…

Our Staff

Celine Filbee

Trust Manager
Celine Filbee Trust Manager

Celine struggled a bit with the discipline of secondary education, managing a few school certificate subjects back in the day but is a Certified Festival and Events Executive and has passed a Nexus Partner Influential Leadership course. She has a long history of working with not-for-profits in the community and sporting sectors. As the trust manager the buck stops with her, for finding the money, overseeing the projects, supporting the board, building partnerships and taking care of the staff. When not juggling all those balls she is a councillor at South Taranaki District Council and sits on the board of another Trust. Celine is well known as a cook and entertainer, is a singer, plays several instruments (badly), loves sport and has a strong aversion to the establishment. She has a reputation for the hard truth, getting things done, speaking her mind and backing her people.

Sian Potier

Kiwi Operations Leader
Sian Potier Kiwi Operations Leader

Sian has a Bachelor of Science majoring in zoology and ecology and has been working in kiwi conservation for the past 10 years. Prior to moving to Taranaki Sian spent seven years working on restoration projects on a number of New Zealand’s offshore islands. Her past roles have included species translocations, biodiversity monitoring, plant nursery management, and managing a kiwi creche. As the kiwi operations leader Sian works closely with the Taranaki Mounga Project team to oversee kiwi releases and monitoring work in Te Papakura o Taranaki. Sian ensures the trust’s kiwi survey work is completed to a high standard, oversees the Haurapa kiwi project and looks after the trust’s growing number of volunteers. When not out saving kiwi Sian is usually found running around after her two awesome kiddies Isla and Koa who keep her busy and on her toes. If she is not juggling work and kids Sian can be found on their lifestyle block planting trees, gardening, horse riding or hanging at the beach with her family and their two dogs. Sian very rarely sits still, always approaches tasks with a smile and is known for her ability to wing it when she needs to.

Toby Shanley

Kiwi Ranger

Toby was born and raised in Taranaki and has always enjoyed learning about and exploring the forests, maunga and rugged coastline of the region. Toby has a bachelor of science majoring in ecology and has worked on a number of conservation and restoration projects on pest free offshore islands. Before joining the Trust as a kiwi ranger Toby had spent seven years with the Taranaki Regional Council working on biodiversity protection, the last three of which he was project manager for the Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project. The main tasks of the kiwi ranger job include monitoring and surveying kiwi populations throughout the region, along with tracking of recently released kiwi within Te Papakura o Taranaki. Toby is a keen surfer, has a reputation for being an active relaxer and loves to pass on his appreciation of the environment to his two young kids.

Jess Fancy

Community Kiwi Ranger
Jess Fancy Community Kiwi Ranger

Jess always knew she wanted to work with animals, and spent a long time at university studying towards a career in conservation. She has a BSc in Zoology, an MSc in Conservation Biology, and a Certificate in Captive Animal Management under her belt. She has been working with the Trust for two years, and also volunteers with the Taranaki Kohanga Kiwi at Rotokare project. Through her work with TKT and the Kōhanga, Jess achieved qualified kiwi handler quickly and helps monitor kiwi all around the region. She is also heavily involved in education and advocacy work (something her younger self would’ve been terrified of) and supports the Trust’s other projects where needed. When she’s not out in the bush, Jess loves cooking, gardening, and spending time with her rescue greyhound Louie, and tortoise Pip. Jess is the quiet member of the team, but once questioned she will always offer up a valuable and considered contribution.

Emma Whittaker

Kiwi Habitat Protection Leader
Emma Whittaker Kiwi Habitat Protection Leader

After spending three years and her life savings studying politics and anthropology at Massey University, it only took one week trapping in the Tararua Ranges for Emma to realise that she belonged in New Zealand’s bush. She spent the next two years trapping before moving up to Taranaki and working as a land management officer with the Regional Council. It wasn’t long however before the thought of running through the bush and clearing out dead animals called her name and she came to the Taranaki Kiwi Trust. She now gets to live the dream; working with an incredibly talented team, awesome landowners and some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand to help get pests under control and areas ready for kiwi to be released. In her free time she can be found hunting deer, in the kitchen baking sweet treats, spending time with her family or planning an adventure to some remote corner of the world. Emma has a reputation for really getting stuck in and keeping up with the boys in the bush, she can lump 3 DOC250 in!

Jono Walter

Kiwi Habitat Protection Ranger
Jono Walter Kiwi Habitat Protection Ranger

Jono cruised through Stratford High School without trying too hard. After finishing School he headed to the big smoke (Auckland) where he spent a number of years as a bicycle courier around the CBD (among various other jobs). After a few years in Europe working and cycle touring he eventually gained a Diploma of Outdoor Recreation Leadership at what was the Auckland Institute of Technology (now University of Technology). This led to several enjoyable years working in the Abel Tasman, in the sea kayaking industry before volunteering for 5 months on Raoul Island as a weeder which kicked off a career (of almost 20 years) in pest plant control, mostly for DOC and Greater Wellington Regional Council. This involved some great stints living on remote islands (Raoul, Hauturu/Little Barrier and Lord Howe). He has now returned to Taranaki to take up his current position as Kiwi Habitat Protection Ranger. Jono likes a quiet life and is keen to just get on with the job in the background and stay out of the limelight.

Chris Dodd

Kiwi Ranger Taranaki Kohanga Kiwi at Rotokare

Chris has worked in conservation for 18 years. He has spent ten years on a number of different islands around the world monitoring and surveying seabirds, passerines and Waders for NGO’s, Government departments and in the Private sector. Now based in New Zealand he has lead volunteer teams on translocations of North Island Robin, Hihi and Matata. Chris Holds a level two banding certificate for Passerines, Seabirds and Waders and is an accredited Kiwi handler. Chris as a great sense of humour is always up for an adventure, a laugh and a craft beer.

Māia Gibbs

Apprentice Kiwi Habitat Protection Ranger
Maia Gibbs Kiwi Haditat Protection Ranger

Māia grew up with her siblings on her whānau land in Tongapōrutu, North Taranaki. She attended Waitara High School and left to start beekeeping with her brother for a few years, then went on to Northern BC, Canada to look after a few beehives over there. After a few months she decided to change it up and work in a mine as a geotech and logistics co-ordinator, once the summer ended for the exploration program, she moved back home to Tongapōrutu and worked in hospitality for a couple of years. During that time she did some volunteer hours for DOC on the Kaitake Ranges in Te Papakura o Taranaki, and signed up for a course with Kiwis for Kiwi to become an accredited kiwi listener, in that time she decided conservation was her calling and took on the role as our apprentice.

LeAnne Blakelock

Administration

LeAnne helps the trust out in a administration capacity through her accountancy businesses 2IC based in Inglewood. She has been involved in several not-for- profits including the Taranaki Retreat and in 2020 she was a well deserved recipient of a Kiwi Bank Local Hero award. Her and husband Ian are dairy farmers on their property in Kaimata the pair often host international visitors and have opened the farm up as a camping site for people wishing to experience a bit of rural life first hand.

Scroll to Top