Meet the team

Whaiao is made up of seven working groups, each with co-chairs.  All co-chairs are community leaders in their respective fields.

Education

Ray O'Brien

Co-chair

Ray is a sustainability professional in the education sector who is committed to the big purpose of education: creating transformational change for a better world.His focus is on the integration of sustainable practice into programmes and practice across many disciplines and operational areas. This is achieved through capability development, learner experience design and innovative projects.His current research is exploring how complexity theory and futures studies can inform the design of opportunities for learners to maximise their global impact.If he were to boil education down to a few words it would be: authentic, action orientated, and purpose driven.

Education

Davina Hunt

Co-chair

Stepping from teaching in a primary classroom into the role of Director of Education Support Services at the Dunedin College of Education in 2021, Davina feels in tune with the current challenges facing our schools, kura and communities. Prior to teaching, her career began in conservation science. Since then she has spent 25 years committed to enhancing intrinsic motivation, engagement and achievement through authentic learning contexts in and outside the classroom by teaching science and sustainability education. First as a nature guide for ecotourism and tertiary study tours, a DOC ranger and learning experiences outside the classroom educator in NZ, UK and USA. She has a practical background in hands-on, flax-roots education for sustainability.
As a project manager and facilitator with a philosophy founded in equity, she has collaborated with schools, universities, NGOs, iwi and government agencies to initiate and develop many initiatives such as the cross-government Mātauranga Whakauka Taiao: Environmental Education for Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan; Science Wānanga at University of Otago; education service at Orokonui Ecosanctuary; Enviroschools in Otago and many others.
Davina lives on Otago Peninsula with her partner and their two teenagers and loves kayaking, gardening and getting into the mountains.

 

 

 

Partnerships

Monique Kelly

Co-chair

Monique is co-founder of Revology focusing on development and design of natural fibre composites and co-founded Wao, a registered charitable trust set up to inspire, educate and enable communities to accelerate towards a regenerative future using the SDG as a framework. Since 2001, she has been involved in employment and human rights law and policy at the international level and is now looking to apply those skills at the grassroots level and promote partnership and collaboration. 

Co-chair

Primary Industries

Imogen Brankin

Co-chair

Imogen is a graduate at Silver Fern Farms having graduated with a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University. Born and bred on a sheep farm in Southland, she has a huge passion for the primary industry. Embarking on her career in the red meat sector knowing the huge amount of potential growth and development it holds, she aims to support farmers on the journey of continuous improvement, realising benefits from ethically and sustainably produced food. Ultimately, striving for New Zealand agriculture to continue to be world leading where the land, water and communities are benefited.

Primary Industries

Madison Seymour

Co-chair

Madison is a Master of Arts Candidate in the School of Geography, University of Otago.  Her research focuses on the social science of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand.  Madison is a systems thinker and she sees the challenge of environmental problems as an opportunity to think differently and creatively about the world around us.  Madison was also selected as a participant of the inaugural Winds of Change Programme 2020/21 which brought together postgraduate students from Chile and New Zealand to promote a bilateral and interdisciplinary approach to climate leadership. 

Sustainable Towns and Cities

A J Mason

Co-chair

Pure geek, AJ has represented NZ in physics and math and, after doing the uni thing (astrophysics – inventing warp drive a persistent career goal), left NZ to work with the White House on sustainable development. His inside the beltway circuit was predictably wonky – accreting expertise at the intersections of sci/tech and government – followed by an eclectically disorganised (albeit charming) body of work out of US, NZ, and Europe across private, public, and NGO sectors.

 A heptagramatic peg without a matching hole, AJ tells his mum he’s a technology strategist – figuring that more or less covers it – with a side of international science. For approximately 7 minutes in 2019, he was a Queenstown Lakes District Councillor, till the Fates intervened and a coin toss sent him back to his basement to play with Lego, where he happily resides to this day.

Tourism

Megan Williams

Co-chair

Megan is a community connector and campaigner. She excels at being involved with multiple projects and weaving the threads together to make a difference. Otago born and bred she has been involved with many projects both locally and nationally.  These range from being the founding manager of Sustainable Wanaka, a founding trustee of Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, a contractor to the Wanaka Community Hub and a Director of Wanaka Wine Tours and Discover Wanaka. 

Megan helped initiate and previously managed the successful Wānaka Water Project for WAI Wanaka.  Megan is a Sustainability Advocate for Tourism Industry Aotearoa working nationally to improve the Sustainability of the industry.

Water

Julie Perry

Co-chair

Julie has wide-ranging business experience founded on her financial expertise, backed up with strong strategic and communication skills along with a healthy dose of common-sense.  Julie moved permanently to Wanaka in early 2017 with husband Geoff and their two dogs, Moose and Mango.  Since then she has been putting her skills to good use managing WAI Wānaka, a charitable trust acting to safeguard and enhance water quality, ecosystem function, and biodiversity in the Upper Clutha Basin.  Julie also gives back to her community as a member of the Shaping our Future Board and a mentor for Business Mentors NZ.