Who Are We?

logoThe group that began in 2008 as an informal group of Peninsula landowners was registered as a charitable trust in 2010. At present there are 11 trustees, a part time Project Manager, a part time Volunteer Coordinator and an Operations Manager plus 3 part time Operations Assistants.

On top of that OPBG would not be able to achieve what we have so far without the help of a small army of our volunteers! There are in the order of 60 volunteers at any one time undertaking monitoring (bird, rodents, lizards, vegetation), administration, publicity, possum detection, track clearing and trapping. A further 100 Peninsula residents are controlling possums on their land with support and advice from OPBG.

Their contribution is invaluable and cannot be acknowledged enough. Thank you to all, and we welcome anybody new who is interested to join up in any small or big way!

Volunteer Coordinator

We are pleased to welcome our new Volunteer Coordinator, Kate Tanner to the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group.

Kate has a lot of experience in working with volunteers and has been working for DOC for the past few years. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or are an existing volunteer Kate would really like to hear from you.

She can be contacted at volunteers@opbg.nz or call / text her on 021 0237 5970.

She is really looking forward to working with you all toward a Pest-Free Peninsula.

Project Manager

Ursula Ellenberg has joined our Biodiversity Group as the new Project Manager.Ursula has recently returned from Melbourne where she has worked for several years as a lecturer in the Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution at La Trobe University. She continues to be involved in the research and teaching both at La Trobe and at the University of Otago.

Ursula and her family are glad to be back home in Dunedin where her kids were born and where she did her PhD on penguins. Much of her field research was based on the Otago Peninsula. Effective communication of management relevant research results has helped her earn the Young Scientist of the Year Award .


 Operations Manager

Bruce and Puku Hi, I’m Bruce Kyle, Operations Manager for OPBG. My background is all about animals, starting with sheep, cattle, deer and goat research at Invermay in the 1980s (including a stint in Ireland), then genetics manager at Mt Linton Station (96,000 stock units) for a few years. That was followed by 16 years at DOC as a technical support officer (animal pests), advising/assisting Area staff with pest management programmes ranging from deer, tahr and goats down to possums, rabbits, mustelids and rodents. More recently I have worked as a fisheries observer and pest contractor, and currently do some field work for Agresearch and Techion Ltd when I’m not chasing possums. I’ve been working for OPBG on and off since 2012, doing both possum control and possum monitoring (follow-up trapping to measure possum abundance in different areas).


Rod Morris began working for conservation when he joined the NZ Wildlife Service. Over the following six years he was deeply involved in takahe recovery, the kakapo searches in Fiordland, and the rescue missions to save the Chatham Island black robin. After leaving the Wildlife Service, he joined TVNZ’s Natural History Unit, in Dunedin. Here under NHU head Michael Stedman, he worked as a film director on the popular children’s natural history programme ‘Wildtrack’ and the nature series ‘Wild South’, where he made more than twenty-five nature documentaries, mainly about conservation, such as the stories he produced and directed on the work of Don Merton and the endangered Chatham Island black robin. Rod controls pest animals and plants on his own Peninsula property where numbers of kereru and tui are increasing.  His detailed knowledge of the natural history of the Otago Peninsula is most valuable to the OPBG.

Rod was elected Chairman of the OPBT in October 2017.

David Chalmers has a PhD in environmental psychology and has held several research positions in health sciences at the University of Otago.  In 1990, he helped establish an injury prevention research unit in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, serving as Deputy Director and Associate Professor.  He has written two books, over 100 scientific articles and numerous commissioned reports.  After retiring in 2010, he and his partner shifted to Macandrew Bay where they are revegetating their 0.8 hectare property in native species.   David is an OPBG volunteer, undertaking bird and rodent monitoring, and community trapping.  He brings considerable experience as a scientist, project manager and administrator to the Board of Trustees. Dave served as Chairman of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust from 2016 to 2017.

Brendon Cross, is one of a handful of full-time farmers on the Otago Peninsula. He is a sixth generation farmer on the Otago Peninsula, and as such, he has strong rural community networks. Brendon plays a pivotal role in generating landowner support for the project. He has the grazing lease for the DCC owned Harbour Cone property, putting him in direct contact with large numbers of the Dunedin community.  Two bush remnants on the family farm have recently been protected with QEII covenants and a wetland area fenced from stock.

Rhys Millar is an independent contractor with 19 years of project management experience in the conservation and land management sectors. He was the Project Manager for the first stage of this project ‘Toward a Pest Free Peninsula’, overseeing the community consultation process and the development of the interpretative information.  Rhys has continued his involvement, particularly in the operational area. He also led the trustees through the process of developing a Strategic Plan in 2013 and has taken a key role in applying for funds.

Alasdair (Ally) Campbell has strong family links with Otago Peninsula and recently moved here after 50 years farming 164ha in Taumata, Clinton.  He now farms a property in Sector 4 between Macandrew Bay and the Highcliff Road on the Otago Peninsula. Ally is involved in the Macandrew Bay Bowling Club and is well placed to promote OPBG among local residents. Part of Ally’s farming operation includes Colinswood Bush, a native forest remnant protected by a DoC covenant.

Hoani Langsbury has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Ecology, and a Post Grad Diploma in Science in Geography.  He has an active interest in environmental issues, both in the marine and terrestrial environments. Hoani is active locally on the Otago Peninsula Community Board, Trustee of the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust and a Tangata Tiaki for the Otago Coastal Marine Area.  He is the former chairperson of the Otago Conservation Board and a former member of several national species recovery groups (including Kaki, Yellow Eyed Penguin and Grand and Otago Skinks). He is currently employed as the Manager of Operations Taiaroa Head, a role that has him responsible for the Royal Albatross Centre and Blue Penguins Pukekura. He lives on the Otago Peninsula above Wellers Rock, where along with his family he maintains a small lifestyle property.

Bev Dickson has a science background and a keen interest in environmental issues. She worked at the Portobello Marine Laboratory for 35 years where she was manager of the research facility for twenty of those years. Bev also worked for the Otago Regional Council for ten years in a part time role as their Oiled Wildlife Response Co-ordinator. She has extensive experience working in the field, in areas including coastal Otago, Fiordland, Antarctica and Indonesia. Bev has lived on the Peninsula for most of her life and currently lives at Papanui Inlet.

Laurie White has a hospitality / tourism background. He has lived in Macandrew Bay on the Otago Peninsula for  many years after returning from working overseas and has extensive experience in setting budgets, costing, staff training, buying and marketing,  having owned and operated his own licensed restaurant. Has also managed a contract airline meal production kitchen and  started up and edited a monthly tourist publication. Fully retired in 2010 Laurie leads an active life with an interest in the environment and currently is the print secretary and councillor of the Dunedin Photographic Society, treasurer of the Otago Alpine Garden Group and member of the Dunedin Rhododendron Group and Open Arts Inc. Laurie White is the Treasurer of the OPBG

Brian Templeton is the Director of Elm Wildlife Tours and a resident of the Otago Peninsula.

Marita Eisenlohr is a geologist, who moved to a lifestyle property on Grassy Point with her husband in 2013. She has a keen interest in NZ native fauna and flora and together with her husband is currently clearing her property of invasive plants (gorse, broom, hawthorn, pines) and replanting with native trees. Since her introduction to OPBG she has become a volunteer doing rodent monitoring, setting chew card lines and trapping possums, the result of which are an increasing number of birds like tui, bellbirds, kereru, silver eyes on her own and neighbouring properties.

Sophie Fern has lived in on the Otago Peninsula since moving to Dunedin in 2002, first in Broad Bay and now in Macandrew Bay. She trained as a marine biologist but the last few years has moved into conservation policy.  She is currently doing a PhD through the ecology program at Otago University, looking at non-human charisma and its effect on conservation policy.  She runs a natural history radio show on Otago Access Radio, sometimes writes science for kids and has both peripatus and kōura in her back garden.  She can be found on Twitter @SophieFern.


Previous Trustees

2008 – 2017 Moira Parker is a founding member of the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust and has been a member of the OPBG since its inception. She has now stood down from the trust board but will remain active as a member of the operations committee and maintaining her involvement in volunteer training and mentoring.

2012 – 2016 Matt Anderson, an accountant with PriceWaterhouse and a longtime resident of the Otago Peninsula

2012-2015 Ian Turnbull, geologist living on the Peninsula and now relocated to Hawea to resume predator control duties there.

2012-2015 Bob Morris, farmer with strong Peninsula family ties.

2009- 2012  Sam Neill, farmer, tourism operator and Otago Regional Councillor

2009-2012  Irene Scurr, farmer and past chair Otago Peninsula Trust and Otago Peninsula Community Board

2009- 2013 Matt Harcombe, policy analyst Federated Farmers

2009-2014  Neville Peat, author and Chair of Orokonui Ecosanctuary

2009-2014 Luke McClelland, Portobello Resident and Operations Manager, Selwyn College

2009-2014 Edward Ellison, farmer and past Deputy Chair of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu

Expert advisers

As a group of Peninsula landowners and residents, we rely/collaborate with  experts for advice and wish to acknowledge the regular assistance we have kindly received so far from:

Dr Cathy Rufaut

Carey Knox, Herpetologist and Ecological Consultant

John Nunn, Entomologist

Richard Ewans, Consultant Ecologist

Dr Deborah Wilson, Landcare Research Ecologist

Bruce McKinlay, Department of Conservation,Technical Advisor, Ecology, Ecosystems and Species.

Derek Onley, ornithologist  advising on bird surveys

Marcia Dale, ecologist

Dr Yolanda van Heezik, Dr Kath Dickinson and Amy Adams, University of Otago

To contact the Project Manager see the Contacts page