With over 80,000 supporters, the Society’s organizational network starts at the grass roots with our amazing members, grouped into over fifty geographical Branches throughout New Zealand.
The Branches, in consultation with members, name a panel of Councillors that meets annually in Wellington to elect a small team called the Executive. The Executive is the Society’s governance body, and is accountable to the members. On behalf of the Society’s members and supporters, it strives to optimize the society’s performance in the achievement of nature conservation outcomes.
Meet our Executive
Andrew Cutler, President (Wellington branch)
When Andrew Cutler joined Forest & Bird he didn’t expect to be labelled a member of the ‘eco-Taliban’ or chased by an angry fisherman around the Island Bay foreshore. But that’s what happened during the campaign for the Taputeranga Marine Reserve. He’s also been labelled ‘anti-cat’ for running a study on cat-predation in urban areas. Between the battles, Andrew has worked hard to protect bush remnants and bird corridors, by making submissions to the city and regional councils. And given his background in public sector communications in central, local & regional politics, he's well placed to negotiate the bureaucracy. Since the mid-1990s, he has been involved in a number of projects such as the Karori sanctuary and the Wellington branch’s Greening Wellington project, which aims to join up Wellington's green spots. One green spot he's hoping to expand in the next few years is his backyard - a place where he can often be found on the weekends battling weeds, poisoning possums and planting natives.
Mark Hanger, Deputy 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 7 lost species of seabirds once found along the Otago coast back to their former homeland.
Craig Potton (Nelson-Tasman branch)
Craig Potton is a noted landscape and nature photographer and conservationist, and the founder of independent publishing house Craig Potton Publishing. He has been actively involved in conservation work for more than 20 years and is particularly interested in seeing Forest & Bird pursuing national campaigns, including high country protection, controlling and eliminating pests and weeds, protecting the marine environment, and combating global warming.
Barry Wards (Upper Hutt branch)
Molecular bacteriologist-turned-MAF adviser Dr Barry Wards has been an active member of Forest & Bird for more than 20 years, and has served on the Executive since 2004. Barry is a strong believer in community-based projects that inspire people to take responsibility for their natural environment. His interests include environmental sustainability and terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Barry can often be found in his garden tending to a selection of weeds, natives and exotics, or tramping throughout the North Island.
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.
Jon Wenham (Waikato branch)
Hot-air balloonist, sailor and bird enthusiast Jon Wenham was gifted a Forest & Bird life membership by his nature-loving father 30 years ago. After several years overseas working as a tropical horticulturalist and aerial photographer, Jon returned to Waikato with a passion to restore its natural heritage, and has since been active in branch activities. He lives on a quarter-acre block with his partner and son, as well as several pukeko, moreporks and eels.
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 now substantially replanted with native plants and trees, re-established enough to be frequented by kotare, tui and more recently bellbirds. She is keen to be involved in helping re-invigorate the grassroots networks of Forest & Bird and on ensuring the successful implementation of the Society’s strategic plan.
Ines Stager (South Canterbury branch)
Landscape architect Ines Stager 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.
Brent Barrett (Manawatu)
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 Executive in 2011 and looks forward to working with the Society’s leadership to ensure Forest & Bird is a effective and global voice for nature.