The 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 and a part time Operations Manager.
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!
Sarah Irvine is our new Project Manager
Sarah took over at the beginning of July. She has experience in educational publishing and early childhood education as well as a strong interest in conservation, having done voluntary work for DoC. She completed a B.Sc. in Zoology at Otago University and is currently undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Management. Sarah lives in Macandrew Bay, where her children attend local schools. OPBG is fortunate to have a person with Sarah’s skills and enthusiasm on board as we press ahead to clear the Peninsula of possums and plan the control of other pest species.
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).
Backyard Biodiversity Project
OPBG welcomes Carol Tippet as the new educator for the Backyard Biodiversity Project. Carol is not entirely new to the team, many of us know her as the coordinator for the tracking tunnel volunteers. The Backyard Biodiversity project is a fun and innovative environmental education program that arms children with rodent, insect and lizard monitoring devices, which lets them check out what’s roaming in their backyards at school and home. It was introduced last year and OPBG is lucky to have secured funding again this year from MBIE’s ‘Unlocking Curious Minds’ local grant to continue this successful program through our Peninsula schools
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 was elected Chairman of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group at the 2016 AGM, taking over from Brendon Cross, who stood down after serving many years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
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.
Moira Parker is a founding member of the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust and has developed a keen interest in the botanical values of the Otago Peninsula. Moira is active in hands-on conservation work, particularly plant pest control. Her main focus is on enhancing the habitat of the Peninsula, including her own ecologically valuable patch. Moira’s links with the local conservation sector are important for the OPBG – ensuring we keep strong connections with all members of the Peninsula community.
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.
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 will be most valuable to the OPBG.
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.
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
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