With over 70,000 supporters, the Society’s organisational network starts at the grass roots with our amazing members, grouped into 50 geographical branches throughout New Zealand.
The branches, in consultation with members, name a panel of Councillors that meets in Wellington to elect a small team called the Board.
The Board is the Society’s governance body, and is accountable to the members. On behalf of the Society’s members and supporters, it strives to optimise the society’s performance in the achievement of nature conservation outcomes.
Any Forest & Bird member can put their name in the hat to become an Board member. In 2015, three positions on the board will become available.
Mark Hanger, President (Dunedin Branch)
Armed with a degree in botany, an adventurous spirit and an effervescent love of nature, Mark Hanger got himself the ultimate job as a nature tour guide 25 years ago, however, year by year he’s seen wilds of the south change dramatically in the drive towards development. When he’s not tripping around the foothills and mountain peaks of the South Island, he can be found in his 15-hectare garden battling gorse or indulging in one of his favourite pastimes: watching trees grow. As well as being a self-confessed tree-hugger, he’s a climate change activist, a water conservation guru, and - more recently - a seabird re-homer. He ultimately wants to return all of the seven lost species of seabirds once found along the Otago coast back to their former homeland.
Kate Graeme, Deputy President (Tauranga Branch)
Kate Graeme is a Tauranga branch committee member and the local Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) co-ordinator, and a volunteer in the pest control team at Aongatete Forest in the western Bay of Plenty. Kate was previously a policy advisor on climate change for the Minister of Transport and on freshwater policy for the Department of Conservation.As the daughter of long-time Forest & Bird members and former staffers Basil and Ann Graeme, Kate has a strong conservation background. She sees an effective freshwater management system, support for 1080 pest control and climate change as the top conservation issues. Kate joined the Board in 2014.
Graham Bellamy, Treasurer (Upper Hutt Branch)
Graham Bellamy is an accountant for an animal health company and has been a member of Forest & Bird for about 30 years. He became a more active member after going along with his colleagues to do community work at a Forest & Bird project, and says his subsequent involvement in projects such as Hull’s Creek restoration has opened new horizons in his life. He’s now a passionate advocate for the environment and the importance of preserving it for the enjoyment of future generations.
Brent Barrett (Manawatu Branch)
Brent Barrett has had a lifelong interest in nature and the outdoors, matched with a more recent interest in environment and conservation opportunities and challenges, including climate change, oceans, and freshwater. Since moving to New Zealand from America at the turn of the century, Brent has had an active role in the environment and conservation arena, including serving five years as chair of Forest & Bird Manawatu, and as a co-founder of Reel Earth, the Southern Hemisphere’s leading film festival with a nature and environment focus. A life member of Forest & Bird, Brent joined the Board in 2011.
Ines Stäger (South Canterbury Branch)
Landscape architect Ines Stäger came to New Zealand from Switzerland in 1981 en route to South America, and enjoyed our vast areas of landscape so much that she never left. For 20 years, she has been living off the grid on a 12-hectare Geraldine property that she shares with her partner and a range of native birds such as kotare, kereru, grey warblers, bellbirds and some endangered long-tailed bats (pekapeka). During her 27 years at Forest & Bird, she has been the driving force behind several restoration projects; worked as a Kids' Club Co-ordinator with her partner and campaigned hard on water issues around the Canterbury/Mackenzie Basin region.
James Muir (Mercury Bay Branch)
James Muir of Coromandel worked as a biologist before studying science communication and taking up film making. His documentary film River Dog about his father Grant’s battle to keep stock from neighbouring farms out of the Pahaoa River in Wairarapa won awards in New Zealand and internationally. Now based in the Coromandel, James has been a committee member with the North Coromandel branch and more recently with the Mercury Bay branch. He joined the board in 2016. James said his priorities are freshwater ecosystem protection, habitat restoration through community conservation and advanced predator control operations.
John Oates (South Auckland Branch)
John Oates is a business owner from the Clevedon area, who chaired the South Auckland branch for five years until joining the board in 2016. During those five years the membership of the branch rose from 350 to 850 and the amount of pest control work done by the branch was extended. John says his main areas of focus for conservation are animal and plant pest control, marine protection and urban biodiversity restoration. He believes his business experience will help to strengthen Forest & Bird as it moves towards its second century of protecting nature.
Lindsey Britton (South Auckland Branch)
Lindsey Britton has what she describes as an ‘ecological gene’, perhaps inherited from her maternal grandfather whose family were seed merchants and market gardeners. From a young age she shared her bedroom with tanks of tree frogs, stick insects, newts and gerbils, even a bush baby, and inevitably she went on to study zoology. On arriving in New Zealand from England, she worked for a while at Greenpeace and thereafter for councils on various projects ranging from helping draft Manukau's State of the Environment Report to introducing recycling to Auckland's inner CBD. She lives on what was once a bare 1.3-acre paddock that is now substantially replanted with native plants and trees. It is frequented regularly by kotare, tui and more recently bellbirds.
Tony Dunlop (Warkworth Branch)
Tony has been a member of Forest & Bird for over 30 years. He is a retired clinical psychologist initially specialising in addiction, and subsequently working internationally as a management consultant. Earlier in his career he was a school teacher and also a senior fellow teaching Environmental Studies at Auckland University. He has been chair of the Warkworth branch. He is particularly interested in raising awareness of the impact of climate disruption and its consequences such as sea level rise on the natural environment and life as we know it. The build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the defining problem of our age and if not addressed it will make all our other environmental efforts irrelevant.