Dr. Chris Hepburn

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai Project Co-Coordinator
University of Otago


Chris is a senior lecturer at the Department of Marine Science. His work focuses on coastal ecosystems in southern New Zealand and in particular the impacts of human-induced change (e.g. elevated carbon dioxide, nutrient loading, sedimentation, fishing, invasive species) on the ecology of coastal seas. Chris leads a laboratory that is currently working on diverse topics that focus on habitats and species that support mahinga kai. Chris and his students work within Taiāpure and Mātaitai throughout Ngāi Tahu’s Takiwa and more broadly in other coastal regions of New Zealand. He is a member of the East Otago Taiāpure Committee and is committed to supporting aspirations of local communities for better management of fisheries and ecosystems they rely on.

Dr. Anne-Marie Jackson

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai Project Co-Coordinator
University of Otago

Dr Anne-Marie-Jackson
Anne-Marie Jackson is a lecturer in Māori physical education and health and joined the School of Physical Education as an academic staff member in 2011. After obtaining a Bachelor of Physical Education Honours degree majoring in Exercise Sport Science and a Master of Physical Education focusing on education policy at the School of Physical Education, she completed a doctorate in Māori studies and physical education examining rangatiratanga and Māori health and well-being within a customary fisheries context.

Nigel Scott

Te Ao Turoa, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Nige1Nigel works for Te Ao Turoa, the environmental unit of the Ngāi Tahu Tribal Council. Nigel’s core function forTe Ao Turoa is to protect and enhance the customary fishing rights of Ngāi Tahu Whānui. He helps build the capacity of Ngāi Tahu to implement the customary non-commercial provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992, with particular emphasis on the identification and protection of areas of importance for customary fishing through the establishment and ongoing management of tools like Mātaitai and Taiāpure. Nigel believes that the development of community-based tools to conduct baseline surveys of fisheries resources and to assess harvesting levels will greatly assist each reserve’s customary managers to better manage their areas, which in turn should lead to better environmental outcomes.

Brendan Flack

Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki and University of Otago

BrendanBrendan is Kāi Tahu (Kai Te Ruahikihiki) and a Tangata Tiaki for Kāti Huirapa and Chair of the East Otago Taiāpure Committee. He works as a researcher on Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai and leads research within the East Otago Taiāpure as well as supporting the research team in the field when working in other areas. Brendan is leading the He Pataka Wai Ora Project, that monitors the health of the Waikouaiti River, has an important role in the development and testing of the Marine Cultural Health Index (MCHI) tool and is also involved in the Marine Metre squared programme ( as well as working for Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki.

Dr. Daniel Pritchard

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Daniel Kaka ptDaniel obtained his PhD in Marine Botany from the Univeristy of Otago in 2011 and has spent three years at Queen’s Univeristy Belfast (Northern Ireland) researching the impacts of wastewater inputs and marine renewable energy devices on nearshore marine ecosystems. His current research focuses on how light structures subtidal algal communities and he uses an integrated multi-scale approach that draws on experience with algal ecophysiology, macroalgal aquaculture and coupled eco-hydrodynamic models. He is also interested in the use of technology an quantitative methods at all stages of the research process, but in particular to communicate science to a broad audience. Daniel is a Vision Mātauranga Placement fellow, working jointly between Toitū Te Whenua (Ngāi Tahu) and the Department of Marine Science and Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai (University of Otago) on a two-year project entitled Interweaving mātauranga and science through online tools.


Derek Richards

Senior Environmental Advisor – Mahinga Kai, Monitoring & Enhancement, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.20.53 PMDerek Richards a past Otago Marine Science MSc graduate and member of the TMK team has returned to Dunedin to start a new job working with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as a Senior Environmental Advisor (Mahinga Kai Monitoring and Enhancement).

The key tasks of the role are to redevelop and implement monitoring, compliance and education programmes for customary fisheries management and to administer and maintain Mahinga Kai Regional Forums. Derek will be part of a team based in Dunedin that aims to implement a monitoring framework for tribally significant Mahinga Kai Areas within the Ngāi Tahu Takiwā (tribal area). Fulfilling these responsibilities requires working closely with the 18 Ngā Papatipu Rūnanga and their respective Tangata Tiaki/ Kaitiaki.

Tasman Gillies

Environmental Advisor- Mahinga Kai Monitoring and Enhancement, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

TasmanTasman has returned to Otautahi as a graduate to work for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Tasman is an Environmental Advisor – Mahinga Kai Monitoring and Enhancement within the Te Ao Turoa team. As a third generation tangata tiaki for Whakaraupō, Tasman hails from Rapaki and is of Ngāti Wheke (Ngai Tahu) and Ngāti Kahungunu descent. Tasman will be part of the team based in Christchurch that aims to implement a monitoring framework for tribally significant Mahinga Kai Areas within the Ngāi Tahu Takiwā (tribal area).

Emma Kearney

Research Fellow- Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu & the University of Otago


Emma recently finished her masters degree investigating the factors limiting the recovery of tupa/tipa/kuakua (the New Zealand scallop) within Te Whaka ā Te Wera Mātaitai, Rakiura. Having worked with the TMK team over the last couple of years on her research, Emma rejoins the team in 2016 as a Vision Matauranga Placement Fellow Co-funded through Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund (MBIE) and the University of Otago. Emma will be using mātauranga to inform management strategies for customary fin fish fisheries throughout the Ngāi Tahu Takiwa. Orignially from Auckland, Emma is of Ngati Porou and Te Rarawa descent.

Matt Desmond

Postdoctoral Fellow- Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu & the University of Otago

Matt completed his PhD degree at the University of Otago where he worked on the ecology of kelp-forest ecosystems within the East Otago and Stewart Island regions. Over this period, and during his undergraduate studies, he worked closely with the TMK research team. He is now a Vision Matauranga Placement Fellow, co-funded through Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund (MBIE) and the University of Otago. His work will see him work alongside tangata tiaki/kaitiaki, CPA managers, scientists and the TMK team to produce habitat maps of CPAs within the rohe moana of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. This information will allow managers to visualise and quantify the the distribution of key fisheries habitats within protection areas, as well as identify important areas for protection and assess future changes to habitat.

Gaya Gnanalingam

Old Dominion University, USA

Gaya recently completed her masters degree in Ecology at the University of Otago as part of the TMK research programme. Her work looked at reproduction and localised management of blackfoot paua in the East Otago Taiapure. With a background in science and law, Gaya is interested in how we can use science to better inform our fisheries regulations and management of our marine resources. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2013 is currently completing a PhD in ecological sciences at Old Dominion University in the US. Her research there is focused on the management of Caribbean spiny lobsters, their larval connectivity, and tools for the protection of larger breeding stock. Gaya continues to work with TMK from a distance writing reports and providing other support when possible.


Dr. Peter Russell

University of Otago
PetePete comes from Whanganui and his research background is in Physics, Electronics and Physical Oceanography. His PhD researched how water flows round bends in rivers, estuaries and coastal headlands and how the flow pattern causes erosion/accretion of material along river banks and up-welling at coastal headlands. Pete’s current research interests include, flow related process in rivers and estuaries, physical oceanography of the littoral zone, physical processes and energy use in aquaculture. Pete was a researcher on the Ministry for Primary Industries funded Nga Tipa o Rakiura, a baseline survey of scallops in Te Whaka a Te Wera Mātaitai on Rakiura/Stewart Island Scallops. Pete also provided support in the East Otago Taiāpure’s successful challenge of Port Otago’s programme to deepen Otago Harbour and dispose sediment near the Taiāpure in the Environment Court. He currently works as a teaching fellow at the Dept. of Marine Science and as a researcher on He Pataka Wai Ora.

Dr. Federico Baltar

University of Otago
FedeFede is a lecturer at the Department of Marine Science and is an aquatic microbial ecologist focusing mainly on the role of bacteria in aquatic ecosystems. His research group investigates what factors control bacterial carbon cycling in coastal and open ocean communities, and how this bacterial function is and will be influenced by human-induced change (e.g. acidification, increased temperature, eutrophication).They are also working towards better understanding the dynamics of microbial indicators of fecal contamination in relation to environmental parameters, and its relation to shellfish food safety.

Dr. Will Rayment

University of Otago
Will is a lecturer in the Department of Marine Science.   He works on the ecology and conservation biology of whales and dolphin, mapping habitats and the effectiveness Marine Protected Areas and MPA networks.  Will supervises students within the TMK programme and was involved in recent scallop work in Te Whaka a te Wera Mātaitai.

Julian Moller

Web developer
Julian built the Mahinga Kai website. A skilled developer, Julian is atoning for his misspent youth by helping a diverse range of technology startups and other clients create interesting websites and apps. Julian has recently moved to Wellington, but nobody in Dunedin has noticed yet.


Chris Hepburn, Marine Sciences Department, University of Otago
Office: 310 Castle Street, Room 144  |  Tel: 64 3 479 7462  |  Email: