Our Team

Julian is a naturalist, conservationist, writer and lecturer with a particular interest in New Zealand wildlife and island ecosystems. Educated in the UK, Julian spent 15 years in the Galapagos Islands where he established and ran the first yacht charter operation. Since moving to New Zealand he has become an ambassador for native wildlife, being involved in many aspects of conservation in the country, and the driving force behind Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society. He recently helped establish Bay Conservation Alliance, linking conservation groups together to do more for the environment. Energetic and passionate about the cause, he is always on the go, and can rarely be found sitting down!

Julian Fitter

Michelle has a long-standing passion for the environment. Originally from the UK and having completed a master’s degree in Conservation and Recreation Management she emigrated to Aotearoa in 2001 and was delighted to initially work for the Department of Conservation. Moving on to Tauranga City Council she spent the next decade working across sustainability, community development, strategy and communications. She is now very excited to be leading Bay Conservation Alliance, which presents a huge opportunity to develop a new model for citizen-led conservation. Outside of work, she loves time with family and friends, surfing, travelling, and anything adventurous!

Michelle Elborn
Chief Executive

David is an ex-business consultant and project manager, now growing avocados and contributing to conservation through the Aongatete Forest Project and in the wider Bay of Plenty through Bay Conservation. Having worked throughout New Zealand and Australia in large commercial and government enterprises over several decades, he is now enjoying working to develop what are literally grass roots organisations, to ensure they can continue to improve the environment and leave a legacy for those that follow.

David Peters

From Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Alice lives in Whakatāne and is thrilled to have finally returned home after about 40 years away. Her professional background is in strategy, management, communications and engagement in the humanitarian, development, health and environmental sectors, and she is particularly focused on supporting Indigenous-led Kaupapa. Prior roles include Director of Engagement at WWF-New Zealand, and a number of board roles. She is currently on the board of Pare Kore (a Maori zero waste organisation with a kaupapa based on whakapapa to Papatūānuku) and Otakiri School. She does a lot of volunteer work and is proud to have been involved in the Raukumara Pae Maunga restoration project as well as being a co-founder of Tairawhiti Ngutukaka – East Coast Kakabeak.

Alice (Ali) Cameron
Board Member

The natural world has been Tim's passion since he was knee high. From Scouts, Tramper/Mountaineer, Mountain Safety BushCraft Instructor, Life Member Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, living in a forest wilderness since 1988, and a Kaitiaki aka pest terminator at Mount Tutu Eco-Sanctuary on the slopes of Maungatūtū. Tim was an active volunteer Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust 2004 - 2014, Trustee and Volunteer 2011 - 2022 Western Bay Wildlife Trust, and Trustee of Maungatūtū Ecological Trust supporting the environs of Maungatūtū. Being a board member of the BCA collective is biodiversity restoration and education in action and being a tiny part of a large army saving paradise. “Together, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, like the silver fern is our path-finder ensuring that the sights, sounds and aromas of our unique natural Aoteroa continue."

Tim Short
Board Member

Mark is well known in the Western Bay of Plenty having fulfilled many roles. From teacher to being instrumental in establishing Ngamuwahine Outdoor Education Centre. He started a small native plant nursery that grew to become Naturally Native New Zealand Plants Ltd, one of the countries larger nurseries. In 2000 he was awarded life membership of the New Zealand Nursery & Garden Industry Association, and in 2011 he was awarded the Loder Cup for the promotion and conservation of our native plants. He is immediate past chair of the Dune Restoration Trust of NZ, Founding Chair of the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust, and he is past Chair of the Rotary Centennial Trust for the restoration of the Kopurererua Valley wetland in Tauranga. Other environmental organisations he has been a trustee of include Tane Tree Trust, Trees for Survival and EnviroHub.

Mark Dean
Board Member

Originally from Germany, Anna moved to Aotearoa when she was 20 years old. Experiencing the wonder of NZ's natural places inspired her to start a career in conservation. She has a diverse professional and volunteering background, with expertise in habitat restoration, pest control, and threatened species management. Anna currently works at the National Kiwi Hatchery and is a trustee of Western Bay Wildlife Trust, leading their shorebird monitoring group. In her free time, she enjoys supporting community groups, as she believes they play a crucial role in conservation efforts - by inspiring people with diverse backgrounds to get involved and make a difference. Anna also loves hiking, photography, and travelling.

Anna Wentsch
Board Member

Man holding a fish

Will is a BCA board member and Operations Manager of Biosecurity and Taiao Restoration at Te Arawa Lakes Trust. Having previously also worked for Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society, Will is dedicated to protecting the environment for future generations. In his current position Will undertakes monitoring and surveillance work, as well as raising public awareness and engagement. One of the focusses in Will position is on invasive aquatic weeds, as well as invasive fish species such as catfish through Te Arawa Catfish Killas. In his free time Will enjoys fishing and spending time at the lakes and ocean with his whanau.

Will Anaru
Board Member

Cath is an independent board member and brings a perspective informed by broad interests in conservation and environmental stewardship to the role. With majors in conservation management and social enterprise, Cath has been a champion for the planet since university days; values based on a childhood of bush adventures & love for nature. In recent years, founder of Precious Plastic Tauranga, a social enterprise, and supporting resource recovery in Toi Moana.

Cath de Monchy
Board Member

Emma loves all things salty and is passionate about the sea. She has worked as an educator and scientist for over 20 years in the marine science and environmental education fields. Originally, Emma trained as a marine scientist in the UK but escaped the cold water for tropical seas in North America and The Philippines. In the Philippines, Emma supported local people to manage and conserve their own marine reserves. Since arriving in New Zealand, she has worked as a senior lecturer and researcher at the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Over the last 8 years her focus has been to promote science and environmental awareness to school aged students. Emma runs her own science and conservation education business to generate learning outside the classroom and inspire environmental protection in our own local spaces. She is dedicated to supporting teachers and students to experience the natural world, and creating authentic science learning around the Bay’s unique ecosystems. When she is not working, Emma is down the beach with her family or on her yoga mat.

Emma Richardson
Cadet Training Manager

Wayne has a passion for supporting community based restoration projects, Since 2004 Wayne has run an environmental restoration business with services extending to coastal restoration, revegetation, pest management and more. He has a big passion for trees and vegetation management. He has served as the Operations Manager for the Whakatane Kiwi Trust and is currently also a Regional Advisor for the QEII National Trust.

Wayne O’Keefe
Operations Manager

Emma moved to New Zealand in 2001 to teach Marine Studies at Toi Ohomai after completing her PhD in marine ecophysiology and various travels also involving marine monitoring. She has been engaged as an environmental consultant, worked for DOC as a Technical Services Officer, managed Glenfern Sanctuary on Great Barrier Island and currently helps community conservation groups to achieve their goals. She enjoys spending time with her family going camping, surfing and rock climbing. Being immersed in the bush (or ocean) and helping people to discover and care for these places is integral to Emma’s well-being.

Emma Cronin
Operations Manager

Janie grew up in Mount Maunganui and currently resides in Maketu with her young whānau. After finishing her BA Psychology, Janie travelled widely and then came home to become a teacher. Janie has a background in education, community engagement and facilitation, and has worked across the Bay of Plenty in teaching and community development roles, all with an environmental focus. Janie has a deep respect for nature and its inhabitants and enjoys sharing this with others, facilitating experiences for people to connect and form a lifelong love of the environment. When not at work, Janie is often found in the garden or at one of Maketu’s beautiful beaches trying to surf with her whānau.

Janie Stevenson
Education & Engagement Manager

Originally from England, Kim moved to Aotearoa in 2004. She has a diverse professional background in Print Management, Finance, Sales and Administration and more recently in the Volunteer sector as Manager of a local Information & Advice Centre in Tauranga. Working for Not-for-Profit organisations with Charity status especially with people, animals and the environment at the fore is very important to her. Kim joins BCA as Finance and Admin Coordinator. Her passions outside of work are her family and travelling.

Kim Saunders
Finance and Administration Coordinator

Originally from the UK, Claire has a Zoological Conservation degree and a background in animal care. She has been a zookeeper, farm park worker, kennel assistant, horse trek guide and managed an exotic pet shop before becoming involved in conservation through Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society. After working as a field team member for MOWS she then sidestepped into website management and administration, and after being a BCA board member when it was first founded, she became our admin and support person for the BCA cadet programme. In her free time she loves ocean sports, the beach and getting out into nature and around animals with her family.

Claire Hartley
Project Support Coordinator

Thomas is very passionate about birds, and moved to New Zealand in 2011 to work with New Zealand's endangered birds. He has headed up the kokako censuses at the Ark in the Park, as well as being involved in the censuses of other kokako populations as part of his environmental services business. In addition, he has been involved in numerous translocations of bird species, including kokako and other native species. He loves sharing his knowledge of biology and conservation with people of all ages.

Thomas Knight
Cadet Programme Educator

Our members


Bay Conservation Alliance founded by community for community’.

After being founded in 2017, Bay Conservation Alliance has grown to now support conservation member groups across the Bay of Plenty. Given rapid growth, we reviewed our Strategic Plan in 2021. Our new plan defines our role in driving collaboration, so the natural ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity of the Bay of Plenty are restored.

We welcome your support on this journey.


Through collaboration, the natural ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity of the Bay of Plenty are restored.


To support and grow the capability and impact of our communities and partners, to restore and preserve natural ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity.


Our Objectives – 2026

  1. To expand and strengthen the support services for our network members.
    We will deliver practical backbone support for our members and partners to be more effective.
  2. To grow and develop the Bay of Plenty conservation volunteer base.
    We will increase the volunteer base and offer a development programme.
  3. To improve the capability and impact of the community conservation network.
    One of the benefits for the members of the alliance is learning from one another and enabling members to support each other.  
  4. To support and strengthen relationships with our partners.
    BCA’s success is dependent on providing effective services to members and developing strong relationships with government, business, funders, iwi and other community partners, and other regional conservation hubs.
  5. To support landscape-scale biodiversity restoration projects.
    Identifying and supporting high impact landscape-scale projects.
    • Encouraging and supporting our members to strengthen or expand their operation, including where desired the employment of trained conservationists to accelerate progress.
    • Encouraging the development of new groups and environmental restoration projects.
  6. To improve the sustainability of the BCA network.
    Building the long term financial and organisational strength and resilience of BCA is critical to enable it to keep supporting communities and partners in the Bay of Plenty. In the few years since its establishment BCA has been successful at growing scale and programmes. The challenge now is to ensure that BCA and its members can be sustainable financially, environmentally, and socially.



If you are interested in joining the battle for our native birds visit Predator Free BOP and register.

Together we can ensure our local bird life flourishes.


The Ecological Connectivity Strategy is designed to help community groups and conservation organisations plan and prioritise conservation actions to improve ecological connectivity. It is a powerful engagement and communication tool that can be used to demonstrate to stakeholders and potential funders how particular actions benefit biodiversity as part of a much larger landscape-scale effort.


The Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust and forum brings together kaitiaki, agencies, stakeholders, and interest groups to improve the health of the Kaimai Mamaku to provide for present and future generations.

Visit www.mkm.org.nz for more information.

 Visit www.kaimai-mamaku.org.nz for project engagement stories.


The intention of the report is to showcase the efforts of both BCA and our member groups work, throughout each year. It provides a collective story of community conservation in the Bay of Plenty outlining our successes, challenges and aspirations for the future. We hope you enjoy the report.


A big thanks to all our funders and supporters who are contributing to our vision for a healthy environment, enriching people and nature.


Lottery Grants Board



People in the forest with a pest trap

Trapping Workshop a Success!

Group photo of some people in a forest wearing high vis

Welcome to Intake 10 of the BCA Cadet Programme!


Phased Opening for Kaimai Tracks