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Mountains To Sea Conservation Trust (MTSCT)

mtsctMountains To Sea Conservation Trust (MTSCT) - Nga Maunga ki te Moana

The Northland-based Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust was established in 2002, as a charitable umbrella and support organisation for the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) marine education and Whitebait Connection (WBC) freshwater education programmes. These are both leading models in education for sustainability in New Zealand and now both available nationally.

The Trust sees education as a vital part of society and central to all environmental restoration. Our work involves providing dynamic experiential education programmes that engage schools and communities in conservation and the pursuit of sustainability.

Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust website

Mountains to Sea chart 2019

The late Dr Roger Grace

roger graceRoger was a well known marine biologist and professional photographer. Roger was active campaigner for marine conservation in New Zealand and internationally. He  played a role in many of New Zealand’s marine reserve campaigns and was a frequent contributor of articles on marine conservation to popular magazines. Roger was involved as a supporter and biologist for the Great Barrier, Tiritiri and Mimiwhangata marine conservation projects. He was a regular contract photographer on the Greenpeace vessel "Rainbow Warrior" and received the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 2005. Roger was a trustee for 15 years and became our patron in 2018. RIP



Our Trustees...

Vince Kerr

vince kerrVince is a biologist with a background in environmental education, forestry, horticulture and conservation management and currently works for his own firm Kerr & Associates, based in Northland. Vince is a strong advocate for marine conservation and played a key support role in the Kamo High School Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve campaign. Vince is the driving force behind our Trust website He is currently a non-consulting trustee. Vince has responsibility for advising on any issues and supporting consulting trustees.







Olivier (Olly) Ball

Lunch at Glink27s Gully while chasing NotoreasI am a senior tutor at NorthTec Whangarei, and teach subjects ranging from ecology to conservation to the dreaded statistics. My interest in ecology and conservation was sparked when, as a child growing up in London, I found out that I was never going to be able to see such wonderful creatures as moa, huia and dodo, as every last one had been exterminated by humans, directly or indirectly. After leaving school in England, I followed the zoological pathway, completing a BSc Hons at the University of Canterbury (NZ), majoring in ecology and invertebrate physiology. For my PhD at Waikato University, my studies focused on biological control of pastoral insect pests using endophytic fungi of grasses. After post-doctoral studies on endophytic fungi at the University of Tennessee, and several years as a research scientist with AgResearch at Ruakura and Grasslands, I was able to rekindle my passion for plants, animals and their conservation when I took up my current post at NorthTec. Since my arrival at NorthTec, I have been lucky enough to participate in several research projects, including studies on freshwater invertebrate communities of northern Northland dune lakes. What a stunning environment we have, and how lucky we are. That is why I am so happy to support the amazing work of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust.


Hilton Leith

hilton leithHilton sees life as an opportunity to continually learn and change. Hilton has been fortunate to spend half of his working life free diving for rock lobster, paua and sea urchin. The balance was spent in real estate. He saw both of these as wonderful opportunities to learn about himself and his connection with his surroundings. Hilton is a PADI Rescue Diver and a knowledgeable businessman. He believes our future is linked to how we treat our environment today. Hilton continues to add value to the trust in the areas of financial processes and strategic vision as a non-consulting trustee.


Manuel Springford


manuelManuel Springford decided to speak Te Reo on Mondays - wherever he goes, whoever he meets, he speaks Māori. It's his way to keep his native tongue alive. Manuel is committed to Te Reo and surrounds himself with the language in his day-to-day activities, but it was a different story as a youngster - he didn't even know his grandfather could speak Māori. His initial reason to learn the language was to converse with him, so started his reo journey in 2009. He started Māori Mondays in May 2009 after hearing about Mahuru Māori, another Māori language initiative that encourages people to speak Maori in September. Mr Springford thought he'd start early and commit to one day a week. His commitment to the language has inspired many in his community to give Te Reo a go. His local bakery, the Baker's Crust, has included Te Reo in their business - such as renaming their monthly speciality pies in Māori. Mr Springford normalises Te Reo in his workplace, at home, everywhere. While Māori Mondays started out as a way for him to korero Māori more often, the ripple effect has been far wider.


Geoff Buttirini

Ijordie macdonald reotahi 17 2 have had an association with the sea ever since I can remember. Being in, or on, the ocean is my second home. I spent seven years in the RNZN as a radio operator, but also qualified as a navy diver for a second skill. Apart from coastal fishery patrol boats, I served on HMNZS Tui (which is sunk off Tutukaka) and HMNZS Canterbury (sunk in Deep Water Cove). Both ships are now refuges for marine life and great dive sites. In 1973, while on HMNZS Canterbury, I was one of the volunteer crew that went to Mururoa Island to protest against atmospheric nuclear testing by the French, on behalf of New Zealand. The circle now seems complete with Canterbury continuing to be a safe place for marine life and my association with EMR. After I left the Navy I worked in communications for several years, until I decided my future lay in the aquatics industry. When living in Australia I qualified as a swim teacher, teacher of life saving and swim coach. I also qualified as a life guard and went on the manage an outdoor pool in the summer over four seasons. Currently involved with local schools doing WaterSafe and water awareness. EMR attracted me because it is fantastic to be able to share my love of the sea, and marine life, with people who have never experienced it before. I also enjoy the challenge of helping people to overcome whatever fears they may have about being in the ocean.

Matt Keene

mattMatt is born and bred in Whangārei. He has a bachelor of management studies from Waikato University and is a partner in a software development company. Matt is on several not for profit boards that focus on education, the arts and skills development for young people. He has many years of experience in the development and implementation
of strategic planning for not for profits. Matt has been on many EMR school trips withhis 3 daughters and has seen first hand how important and effective it is to make the education of tamariki about the environment and ecology an adventure and fun.


Eden Hakaraia - Education Portfolio

edenEden has been a teacher for the past 15 years and her passions are Science and Environmental Education hence her new job with Enviroschools, Northland Regional Council. She has been an Enviroschool facilitator since 2017. Eden is working with 40 schools in Northland promoting Education for Sustainability. In 2012.  Eden had a Science Fellowship with Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust and was able to work alongside Experiencing Marine Reserves and Whitebait Connection. In 2015, she was awarded a Science Alumni award for the work she had been doing with science with a huge emphasis on Environmental Education.




Leadership - Poutokomanawa

Samara Nicholas - MNZM

samara nicholasSamara  was  a foundation Trustee from 2002 - 2019 he was recognised in 2005 in the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from AUT and is a graduate of Northland Polytechnic's Diploma of Environmental Management. Samara founded the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme in 2001 and the Community Guided Snorkel Days in 2004. She is also a graduate of Kamo High School where she was Head Girl and played a key role in the school’s marine reserve proposal and establishment. Samara is a PADI Dive Master and a registered assessor for unit standards in snorkelling. Samara is a contracting trustee and has responsibility for the overall management and direction of all programmes. She is also the national EMR coordinator.





Kim Jones 

kim jonesKim is the national coordinator for the Whitebait Connection Programme. She is also a Whangarei District coordinator for the EMR programme and co-founder of the Drains to Harbour campaign and Mangrove Discovery Programme. She is a graduate of the Diploma in Environmental Management and Conservation at Northland Polytechnic. Kim received the Golden Bay Cement student scholarship in 2005, which has helped fund her education and provided her with experience working within the environmental management industry. She has a National Certificate in Business Administration and Computing. Kim was a selected member of the youth delegates at the 2006 Digital Earth symposium on sustainability and is also a committee member of the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education, Northland Branch. Kim has been involved with the trust since 2005. . Kim is a contracting  trustee.


Operational Structure and Management 2019

Check out our latest srategy and Theory of Change documents  

Trust Documents:



bsbf 70Department of Conservation 75dive tut 75fn logo 100Tindall Foundation 75wettie 120



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