Meet the group - full biographies
To meet all the members, click here.
Sharlene Maotate-Davis (Co-chair)
Ngāti Wehiwehi, Ngāti Huia, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngai Tahu, Taranaki, Te Ātiawa
Sharlene has been working as a Maori consultant and facilitator since 2002. Born in her tribal home of Kāpiti, Sharlene has worked across sectors in Iwi and Māori health, education and social services. She has worked in professional development as a cultural supervisor, designed and trained thousands of whānau, hapū, iwi and community practitioners.
Sharlene is also an experienced Rongoā practitioner, having managed a Rongoā service in the tribal heart of Waikanae since 2014-2016. Since 2017 she has been instrumental in delivering the Certificate in Rongoā Māori Appreciation. She co-designed and currently delivers a new Diploma in Rongoā for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. She recently co-founded an iwi Rongoā collective now offering services across the A.R.T Confederation.
As co-chair, Sharlene is committed to embedding mātauranga and tikanga-a-iwi in the approaches and practices being implemented throughout the development and implementation of the biodiversity framework. She especially looks forward to the collaborative nature of this region-wide project, and the potential to leave an indelible imprint for the generations to come.
Paul Blaschke (Co-chair)
Dr Paul Blaschke is an independent environmental consultant and teacher. He was born in Wellington, and lives in south Wellington where he is active in several local restoration and community groups. With a background in ecological survey and research, Paul has much experience in environmental policy, planning and management in the public and private sectors. He has worked on the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and many aspects of conservation, biodiversity and sustainable land management policies, and recently been most active in applied urban ecology management. He currently teaches environmental studies at Victoria University of Wellington and has also taught environmental health to public health students.
Paul comments: "I'm excited to be working with my co-chair Sharlene and all members of the Working Group. Between us we have many years of working experience, science and mātauranga knowledge in all parts of our environment. I think we can play an important role in joining up the biodiversity effort around the whole region and integrating biodiversity thinking into all aspects of the society-wide response needed to address the urgent climate change and other environmental issues facing us”.
Quentin lives with his young family in the Belmont Hills, Lower Hutt, nestled between Puke Ariki and Te Awakairangi. A Pākehā of Scottish, Irish and English descent, his forbears first arrived in the Hutt Valley in 1840. He grew up in Central Hawkes Bay, and went on to complete a Master of New Zealand Studies from Victoria University of Wellington.
He has worked in environmental policy since 2005, as an assistant, researcher and adviser to Green Party Members of Parliament, a conservation advocate for Forest and Bird, and a director of Policy and Research with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Today he is a self-employed stay-at-home parent providing independent advice on a range of environmental topics to his clients.
His family is focused on caring for the environment, enjoying the outdoors, connecting to history and whakapapa, and increasing its use of te reo Māori. He sees the biodiversity framework project as a journey where he can apply his experience and values, listen and learn from others, and be part of developing a vision that enhances the mana of the whenua, the tangata whenua, and the whole community.
Zoe grew up in Ngaio, and now lives in Titahi Bay. Her passion is connecting people to the environment, and she does that daily in her work primarily with young people. She thinks Wellington is in a great position to lead a change in the way we think and act in, with and for our environment. As she puts it, "We have a lot of challenges and opportunities ahead. However – it is not a job for the youth of today to sort out the problems we have created and inherited. It’s ours." Her hope is this group will take some big steps forwards with this work.
Zoe’s work and studies have always been connected to the marine environment - firstly as a dive instructor in Kaikoura and Samoa, and through her studies in marine environmental science in Australia. This led to work with the Ministry for the Environment on Oceans Policy and Climate Change, and then with Victoria Government on a large scale marine mapping project. She took a career side path into education in 2010 and worked briefly as a classroom teacher - but quickly moved into outdoor environmental education, and for the better part of the past 6 years has managed and delivered marine and freshwater education programmes, restoration support and citizen science endeavours.She is now the director of the Mountains to Sea Wellington Trust. The team work across the Greater Wellington region with schools, community groups and many other partner organisations to help inspire kaitiakitanga for our rivers, harbours and coasts.
Barry is originally from a sheep and cattle farm at Kelso in West Otago and now lives in Upper Hutt.
He has had a love of nature and of New Zealand’s natural environment for as long as he can remember. Since walking the North Island section of the Te Araroa Trail earlier this year with his wife, he has become even more connected to places and people, further realising that the natural world’s benefits to our condition and health will be irrelevant if we continue to destroy the nature around us. But that destruction is assured without a human re-connection to nature. Like Te Araroa – the Long Pathway, sustaining the forests and rivers of Tane and the oceans of Tangaroa will also be a long pathway, one that he wants to walk.
Barry has a strong desire to protect nature, not because he has to but because he wants to. He wishes to assist tangata whenua in fulfilling their tino rangatiratanga and kaitiaki roles, and re-connect people with their natural environment.
Liam grew up, and still lives, in the Western Hills of Te Awakairangi/Lower Hutt.
He wanted to join the Collaborative Working Group to help develop a robust biodiversity framework for the Wellington region that acknowledges the interests of rangatahi and future generations. Inter-generational equity will ensure long-term solutions to protect and restore biodiversity are implemented.
Liam has just completed a Master of Conservation Biology, and holds a BSc majoring in Ecology and Environmental Science. As a fresh graduate he hopes to bring the perspectives of other students and young people into the work that the Collaborative Working Group does. He has experience volunteering with various environmental NGOs, including youth-led initiatives which empower rangatahi to take part in decision-making. Most recently, Liam travelled to Katowice in Poland to attend COP24 – the 24th annual round of climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC – on behalf of the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute.
Sharli-Jo Solomon (Western ohu representative)
Sharli-Jo (Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira) is the Western ohu representative on the working group. She is animated when she speaks of her life growing up in a playground from Kaitoki to Reikorangi.
Her lifelong passion is for the environment, which is evident in the range of activities, events and committees she has been, and is, part of. She either has been, or is, a member of the Whitireia Park Board, Conservation Volunteers, Porirua Harbour and Catchment Joint Committee, Keep Porirua Beautiful, Takapuwahia Village Planning Committee and Te Awarua-o-Porirua Whaitua. In 2015, Sharli-Jo was acknowledged by Porirua City Council for her commitment to revitalising the harbour and natural environment.
“The relationship our whānau have with the land and sea helped shape the people we are today and provided the basis of our commitment to the environment. I am pleased to have the opportunity to represent our iwi,” Sharli-Jo says.
Paul Shortis is retired and lives in Masterton. He regularly tramps in the Tararuas, fishes the Ruamāhanga catchment and is a keen birder which has led him to trap pests at several renovation projects in the Wairarapa. Through his interest in the environment he has been drawn into the freshwater debate, a subject he is passionate about.
Paul is an elected member of the Wellington Fish and Game Council, and their delegate on the New Zealand Council. He is also an active member of Birds NZ. Before retiring he held a number of senior management roles in Wellington that included research, finance and banking.
Jenny Ngarimu (Central ohu representative)
Ko Rangituhi me Whitireia oku Maunga
Raukawakawa te moana
Ko Ngati Toa, Te Ati Awa me Ngati Raukawa oku Iwi
Ko Tainui te waka
Jenny lives within her whanau and hapu in Hongoeka Bay, Plimmerton. She and her whanau have grown up learning about their environment; they have lived off the sea and the land and were taught from an early age the importance of the health of their moana, awa and whenua.
She has had a varied working life, with a background in finance as well as social services from junior to senior management positions. She has owned her own business, and worked within her whanau, hapu and Iwi.
Currently she is working with the local council to effect better outcomes for our people in terms of Maori land ownership, ensuring that they are able to access services that are the “norm” for other ratepayers, and building relationships that seek to enhance our cultural values and beliefs.
Jenny see the biodiversity space as a priority for our future generations, that they will also be able to enjoy an enriched environment without pollution.
Nga mihi nui kia koutou katoa.
Rawiri Smith (Eastern ohu representative)
Ko Maungaraki taku maunga
Ko Ruamahanga taku awa
Ko Wairarapa taku moana
Ko Kourarau taku roto
Ko Makahakaha taku manga
Ko Wairakau taku puna
Ko Parikauiti taku taniwha
Ho Hurunui-o-Rangi taku marae
Rawiri Smith is from the Wairarapa. He applied to be on the Biodiversity Collaborative Working Group because our community has valued the iwi perspective. He brings experience in collaborative processes from the Ruamahanga Whaitua. He was an iwi representative on that group and enjoyed how this perspective connected with other viewpoints.
Daniela Biaggio is originally from Argentina. She migrated to Wellington five years ago and lives in Ngaio with her partner and daughter, and is expecting the newest addition to her family. She began her career captivated by the behaviours of animals, and after many years of working in the environmental field, she is now fascinated by human behaviour and how it relates to nature. Her current role as Manager for Urban Ecology at Wellington City Council allows her to continue this interest.
She knows life is better when we are surrounded by nature and wants to ensure Wellington is a region where we can all benefit from that. She joined this collaborative working group because she is confident we can achieve great outcomes to our biodiversity challenges through collective impact. She works on weaving professional efforts, empowered community action, research, and evaluation to achieve a shared vision. She is passionate about local government improving decision making for the environment and accessing knowledge for better management.
Daniella is from Wainuiomata, and lives in Korokoro, Lower Hutt. She oversees Zealandia’s conservation and restoration programmes. These programmes aim to bring nature back to Wellington city.
Her academic research interests are on the connection between people and nature, and what it means for health and wellbeing. She joined this group because she has a deep connection with the beautiful hills and forests of this region, and a desire to support our communities in fostering them back to health.
Sam is a professional artist with 20 years’ experience in ceramic sculpture and pottery. He works from his home studio, Dirty Fingers Pottery, in Masterton.
He trained in ceramics and fine arts in Wanganui under the tuition of Ross Mitchel-Anion. He then travelled widely and worked as a potter in places such as the Czech Republic and Provence France, where he had a studio in Biot (close to those of people like Matisse, Picasso and Léger).
The craft of kaitiakitanga guides his work and actions with his interest in his Wairarapa birthplace, its culture, its landscapes, its threatened flora and fauna, influencing his style. He is passionate about waterways and what lives in them, from the mountains to the sea. His strength is communication of complex ideas through the language of art.
Andy was born in West Auckland, but grew up in New Plymouth. He currently lives in Paekākāriki.
He has been involved in community conservation projects for the past 15 years. He is currently the convenor for Ngā Uruora - Kāpiti Project, and is on the governance board for the Kāpiti Coast Biodiversity Project.
He joined the working group as he is interested in contributing to a framework that leads to better support for community conservation groups, and opportunities to share knowledge and resources between the various groups.
Paul lives in Newtown with his partner and daughters. He is co-leader of Polhill Protectors and producer of kid’s nature app Wild Eyes. The 2018 Wellingtonian of the Year finalist is the founder of Capital Kiwi: the mission to return our namesake to Wellington’s wild backyard.
Ward has a storytelling background in the screen industry; the lifelong ‘bird nerd’ is passionate about enabling New Zealanders to connect with our manu taonga: “to paraphrase Dave Attenborough: people will only protect what they care about, and they’ll only have aroha for things that they’ve experienced. He’s excited about “the potential of the Working Group to bring people together and embolden them to act as kaitiaki.”
Kia ora koutou, Ko Maggie Ford ahau.
Maggie grew up in Hamilton but would spend every holiday exploring the beaches and bush in Coromandel where I whakapapa to. She now lives in Lower Hutt.
She works at the Department of Conservation as a Partnerships Development Advisor/ Kaitohu whanaaki. Prior to that she held various roles with DoC in Dunedin and Christchurch, all of which have been focused on working to enable others to connect to nature and achieve conservation outcomes. Maggie has a background in the tourism sector and social development, and has a personal interest in understanding how New Zealander’s connection to nature contributes to wellbeing.
She wants to be a part of this mahi as she believes the Wellington community are leaders in the conservation space and we have an amazing opportunity through this process to make a real difference reversing the decline of indigenous biodiversity.
"It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be working with this group as the Greater Wellington Regional Council representative."
Ali believes in the kaupapa that has brought us together and brings a genuine commitment to collaborative process and learning.
Ali was born and raised in Te Whanagnui-a-Tara (Wellington) and returned here in her late twenties after spending almost ten years exploring Te Waipounamu (the South Island). Her feeling of connection here is strong, both to the harbour’s edge where she lived as a child and the regenerating bushy hills where she now lives in the city with my partner and young kids.Since studying environmental science and environmental management, Ali has been working in GWRC’s Biodiversity department for around seven years. She is continually inspired by the people, ecosystems and landscapes of Te Upoko-o-te-ika-a-Māui, our wonderful region.
The Collaborative Working Group has now been formed