Assoc. Prof. Chris Hepburn

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai Project Co-Coordinator
University of Otago

Chris is the director of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Programme at the University of Otago. 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.

Assoc. Prof. Anne-Marie Jackson

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai Project Co-Coordinator
University of Otago

Dr Anne-Marie-Jackson
Anne-Marie Jackson is an Associate Professor 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 is the primary advisor for Te Ao Turoa, the environmental unit of the Ngāi Tahu Tribal Council. Nigel’s core function for Te 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

Brendan 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 University of Otago in 2011 and spent three years at Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) researching the impacts of wastewater inputs and marine renewable energy devices on nearshore marine ecosystems. His research interests enlie in the use of technology and quantitative methods at all stages of the research process, but in particular to communicate science to a broad audience. Daniel worked as a Vision Mātauranga Placement fellow in 2014, 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. Daniel has since been contracted to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as Principal Scientist within the Te Ao Tūroa Mahinga Kai team, and continues to support local communities and their aspirations for healthy fisheries.

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

Te Ao Turoa, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Emma completed her masters degree at the University of Otago, 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 during her postgraduate years on her research, Emma rejoined 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 used mātauranga to inform management strategies for customary fin fish fisheries throughout the Ngāi Tahu Takiwa. Emma hs since worked as an Environmental Advisor for the Te Ao Turoa Mahinga Kai team, Te Rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu. Originally from Auckland, Emma is of Ngati Porou and Te Rarawa descent.

Dr. 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. Matt worked as a Vision Mātauranga Placement Fellow from 2016-2018, co-funded through Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund (MBIE) and the University of Otago. His project saw 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. The information will allowed managers to visualise and quantify the distribution of key fisheries habitats within protection areas, as well identify important areas for protection and assess future changes to habitat. Matt continues to work with the TMK team, using multibeam methodology to map the seabed within the East Otago Taiāpure, and working to restore kelp forests around New Zealand.

Dr. Gaya Gnanalingam

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

Gaya has recently completed her PhD in ecological sciences at Old Dominion University in the US (having been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2013). Gaya previously completed a 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 is now a Vision Mātauranga Placement Fellow, co-funded through Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund (MBIE) and the University of Otago. Her work is focused on modelling harvest of pāua in CPA’s within the rohe moana of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Lucy Coyle

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

Lucy has recently completed her Masters in Science Communication at the University of Otago. Her work looked at investigating an online platform where data could be shared between scientists and communities, using the East Otago Taiāpure as a case-study. She is now a Vision Mātauranga Placement Fellow, co-funded through Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund (MBIE) and the University of Otago. Her work looks at extending her thesis, investigating effective communicative platforms to share and cultivate scientific information between scientists and Customary Protected Area managers.

Adam Brook

University of Otago

Adam graduated from the University of Otago in 2015. Years of interest in aquatic systems and aquaculture led to work as a professional aquarist, with particular interest/skill in mollusc husbandry. Since the start of 2018 he has been working on small scale Blackfoot pāua​ culture for experimental reseeding Customary Protection Areas. This involves achieving successful spawning from local broodstock, through to the growout of juvenile pāua before reseeding individuals into the Customary Protection Areas.

Dr. Peter Russell

University of Otago
Pete 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. 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.

Derek Richards

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.20.53 PMDerek Richards is a past Otago Marine Science MSc graduate and member of the TMK team. Derek played a key role with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as a Senior Environmental Advisor (Mahinga Kai Monitoring and Enhancement), redeveloping and implement monitoring programmes for customary fisheries management. Although his daily enthusiasm and skills are sorely missed by the team, Derek’s relationship with TMK continues with his knowledge of marine coastal benthic systems and pāua populations and continuing to provide support for this mahi and with students at the University of Otago’s Marine Science Department.

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: