Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

People & Committees

In recognition of the significance of Bream Head, the Bream Head Conservation Trust was formed in 2002 to work in partnership with the local and wider Whangarei communities, the Whangarei District and Regional Councils, iwi, and the Department of Conservation to manage the ecological restoration of the Bream Head Scenic Reserve.

Its vision is to restore Bream Head to a place in which natural ecology has been returned to healthy forest and abundant bird song, and where visitors can experience nature at its best.

The Trust meets once a month to discuss governance, financial and operational issues and receive reports from our committees.


Greg Innes : Chair

Greg has chaired the Trust for the past six years. Greg sees Bream Head Scenic Reserve as an icon of scenic and ecological restoration without a fence.  Bream Head is also a passion that is held very strong as a wider community with an appreciation of its bi-cultural significance. Currently he is also the Councillor on District Council for the Whangarei Heads Ward and Chair of the Planning Committee. Previously, he was Director of Planning for Northland and then had a career advising city and local government, worldwide. He enjoys involvement with the trustees, rangers and volunteers where everyone has the same agenda, as well as the results that the Trust is beginning to achieve in times of political uncertainty towards conservation and the conservation estate.


Sheryl Mai : Honorary Trustee

Sheryl is honorary Trustee in her capacity as Whangarei Mayor.

robin lieffering

Robin Lieffering : Chair of Education Committee

Robin moved to Whangarei from Christchurch in 1975. Her reason – the sheer beauty of the beaches and bush. Robin taught the Japanese language at Tikipunga High School and Northland Polytech before spending eight years teaching in Auckland. On her return to live in the Whangarei Heads in 1998, Robin was elected to the Whangarei District Council where she chaired several committees over her nine years and was a vocal supporter of improving recognition of the value of the natural environment. She would love to see the Whangarei Heads peninsula as a live-in park, and as part of that vision, became one of the original trustees to establish the Trust in 2002. She currently chairs the Education Committee for the Trust.

Kim Tito

Kim Tito : Hapu and Iwi Representative

Ko Ngapuhi te Iwi, ko Te Parawhau te Hapu, Kim is a local resident at Ocean Beach with property bordering the Te Whara-Bream Head range. He has been involved with the Trust since 2002, and is now an active volunteer having completed basic training in trap and bait station management. Carrying out kautmatua roles, providing karakia, kaitaiki and manaaki functions for planting activities and the recent Toutouwai releases, add to Kim’s enjoyment and involvement with the Trust. Kim is the Hapu and Iwi representative on the Trust.


Ben Barr : Ecological Restoration Projects

Ben comes from a long line of Northlanders, and has been involved with Whangarei Heads conservation for about seven years. He studied Wildlife Biology in Australia before taking up a series of placements around New Zealand working for the Department of Conservation, typically dealing with threatened species management. Ben’s real passion though is reptiles and he studied the impacts of rat control on New Zealand’s largest skink species. Currently, he teaches Conservation and Environmental Management at NorthTec. His focus at the Bream Head Conservation Trust is advancing and advising on ecological restoration projects, with a particular focus on re-introductions and reptile research.


Annie Everson-Dawn : Trust Secretary

Annie has been our Secretary and Minute Taker since 2011 and thoroughly enjoys the involvement and the passion that the Trust offers. As an advocate of conservation and preservation of NZ fauna and flora she says her involvement in what the Trust is striving for and achieving is both rewarding and fulfilling.  She is also involved with other community groups in the Whangarei District that offer fulfillment.


John Gardiner

John’s career in conservation spanned 47 years with the Department of Conservation and its predeessor, the Department of Lands and Survey, where he held numerous positions in many locations throughout New Zealand. He now works part time as an expedition team member or guest lecturer on expedition cruises around the coastline of New Zealand and, in particular, the sub-Antarctic Islands. He also contracts to the New Zealand Walking Access Commission as their Northland Field Adviser.

With an intimate working knowledge of his country’s great outdoors, its national parks and fascinating flora and fauna, John has been a key player in the recovery of many endangered species and threatened habitats, and the initiating force behind a large number of conservation projects.  Now John is happiest when sharing his extensive knowledge of New Zealand’s natural and cultural environments and history, especially with visitors to this country.


Rod Gates

Rod’s career began in the Air Force and progressed to university where he qualified as a barrister and solicitor and acquired post graduate legal qualifications in jurisprudence, international law, constitutional law, and alternative dispute resolution. His career included assignments in Foreign Affairs, Treasury, the Labour Department, the United Nations and the South Pacific Forum Secretariat. He also served in various New Zealand overseas missions and was Head of Mission in Tonga, Fiji (including Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru) and Japan.

He became a trustee of the Bream Head Conservation Trust in 2006 and contributes to the strategic evolution of the Trust in its operational, governance and management infrastructure. Rod has family connections in the Whangarei area.

don hewitt

Don Hewitt

Don was co-opted onto the Trust, along with John Gardiner from the Department of Conservation, by John Davison in 2001 to assist in the preparation of the Trust Deed. The Bream Head (Te Whara) Conservation Trust Deed was dated 26 September 2001.  Don was the first chairman of the Trust, from 2002 until 2008 and treasurer from 2002 to 2012.

Bill Mallett

Bill Mallett : Treasurer

Bill is a retired chartered accountant, having practised in Whangarei for 30 years. He became involved with the Trust initially participating in a planting day in 2011 and subsequently taking responsibility for the finances later that year, becoming a trustee in 2012. These responsibilities entail the preparation of monthly and annual financial statements, GST returns, liaison with auditors and funding providers, preparation of annual budgets and payment of accounts. From his Urquhart Bay bach he looks out at Mount Lion and enjoys making the most of what the Reserve has to offer.

Dai Morgan


Dai Morgan : Trustee

Dai is a trained ecologist who has worked in several different roles across this discipline including pest mammal management, urban ecology, freshwater ecology, and threatened species management. He has been tutoring at NorthTec on the Conservation and Environmental Management program since 2014 which has allowed him to work closely with the Bream Head Conservation Trust through using the reserve for teaching purposes and, more recently, as a member of the Trust helping out with the restoration plans and providing ecological advice.


Claire Pearson : Communication Committee

Claire is the fifth generation of her family to live in the Whangarei Heads/Parua Bay district and feels very privileged to do so. Following on from a teaching career of more than 20 years, in 2008 she set up a business called Bream Head Coast Walks, offering packages of walking, accommodation and food. At this time she decided to find out more about the Bream Head Scenic Reserve and became involved in the restoration and education committees of the Trust. She became a Trustee in 2016 and currently chairs the Communication Committee. Claire enjoys sharing her love of the area with her walking guests, and teaches part-time at Whangarei Heads School.


Geoff Pike

Geoff Pike is a founding member of the organisation and an enthusiastic volunteer who lives locally and believes strongly in the value of the environment.

Department of Conservation Liaison : Fiona Watson

Adam WillettsAdam Willetts

Adam was born and grew up on the Kapiti Coast. He loved fishing, tramping, surfing, skateboarding – anything outdoors! This is his brief work history:

  • Lincoln University 1994 -1996 – Bachelor of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • Lincoln University 1998 – Post graduate diploma in Commerce (Marketing)
  • DOC recreation ranger North Head Auckland -2002 -2003
  • DOC Ranger Kawau Island 2003 – 2006
  • Project Manager/Ranger Christchurch City Council 2006 -2012
  • DOC Biodiversity Ranger Great Barrier Island – 2012-2013
  • DOC Senior Biodiversity Ranger Great Barrier Island 2013 – 2014
  • Project Manager/Ranger – Bream Head Conservation Trust 2014 – Present

Family, environment and conservation are Adam’s main passions in life. Ben Harper is his favourite music artist. Adam still likes to fish, tramp, surf and skateboard but his favourite thing to do at present is build their house and plant native trees.

Evan Davies

Evan Davies

Evan was born and bred in Whangarei.  After school, he completed a Diploma in Environmental Management at NorthTec and there he met the love of his life Theda.  He then worked at NIWA for six and a half years in aquaculture.  Now he is a ranger for Bream Head Conservation Trust and says it’s fantastic.  He also works as a summer ranger for the Whangarei Heads Marine Reserve. As he says, “I’m living the dream.”

Bruce Cole-Baker

Bruce Cole-Baker

Growing up on a hilly farm in the Northland, and then the coast, Bream Head has been a great fit for Bruce. He is a fan of the mountains and the sea, multisport, experimental music, interesting people and places. He has enjoyed exploring wild places in New Zealand and the world and lived a portion of his life in the USA. He loves coffee and his wife’s sourdough bagels and playing with his two girls in their patch of paradise in Parua Bay.

Volunteer co-ordinator : Melissa Arseneault


A number of committees have been established to assist the Trust to achieve its aims.

Education Committee

Education is a key component of the Trust’s purpose. The role of the Education Committee is to provide education resources that link to the various New Zealand education curricula, provide visits to the Reserve and recognise volunteer programmes for youth. With the support of the sponsors, the Education Committee has taken a huge step towards meeting its vision by completing the Bream Head Education Resource.

Key projects and activities include:

  • developing and maintaining the Bream Head Education Resource
  • guided school tours

Committee members

  • Robin Lieffering
  • Claire Pearson
  • Susan Halliwell
  • Shirley Peterson
  • Lil Ruffell

Communication Committee

The role of the Communications Committee is to provide guidance and support so as to communicate the aims of the Trust effectively.

Key projects and activities include:

  • maintaining the Trust’s website
  • providing recognition of sponsors, partnerships and supporters
  • management of the Friends’ database and correspondence
  • producing and publishing the Trust’s newsletter and external promotional material
  • writing and publishing articles and media releases

Committee members

  • Claire Pearson
  • Adam Willetts
  • Corinne Scott
  • Sally Prince
  • Wendy Holland
  • Mick Buckley

Rangers Committee

A key initiative for the Trust has been implementing a ranger for the Reserve which has been a major step forward.

The Ranger’s Committee is responsible for overseeing and supporting the rangers and their associated activities to enable those activities to be undertaken in a sustainable manner. These are primarily the resources for the restoration of the Scenic Reserve and the Trust’s relationship with funding agencies and its surrounding community.

Key projects:

  • ranger activities
  • extension of the restoration programme from the core area to cover the whole Reserve
  • securing funding to enable sustainable programmes in conjunction with the Restoration Committee.

Committee members

  • Greg Innes
  • Geoff Pike
  • John Gardiner

Recreation Committee

The Recreation Committee’s primary role is to liase with the Department of Conservation to advocate for appropriate and well designed recreational development that is maintained to a high standard.

Key projects:

  • maintenance of the Smugglers Bay and Peach Cove track
  • car parks and signage

Committee members

  • John Gardiner
  • Greg Innes


  • Pete Mitchell – Pete began as our first ranger at the beginning of 2010. During his almost four years with us, the five year restoration plan was adopted and the structural frame work to intensively manage Bream Head was put in place.
  • Adam Willetts
  • Evan Davies
  • Bruce Cole-Baker

Sir Paul Reeves

Sir Paul was appointed Patron of the Bream Head Conservation Trust in 2010 and was inaugurated at a ceremony in October last year, succeeding Sir Edmund Hillary, the founding Patron.

Sir Paul Alfred Reeves, ONZ, GCMG, GCVO, CF, QSO (6 December 1932 – 14 August 2011), had a distinguished public life.  Trained for ordination in the Anglican Church, he progressed from service as a deacon in 1958 and a priest in 1960, to Bishop of Waiapu in 1971, Bishop of Auckland in 1979, and Archbishop of New Zealand in 1980.

He was appointed Governor General in November 1985, on the advice of Prime Minister David Lange.  Sir Paul was the first person of Maori descent to take the position, and Iwi leaders welcomed his appointment as a significant step toward the spirit of cooperation described in the Treaty of Waitangi.

Not only did Sir Paul bring his mana to Bream Head, in his meetings with the Trustees he projected his total commitment to protection of the environment and the responsibilities of this generation to begin mitigating the damage done by human habitation.  He recognised the inherent value of Bream Head (Te Whara) as a unique surviving example of an earlier landscape.  As both an environmentalist and an educationalist, he saw its potential as an educational resource for promoting teaching and learning to succeeding generations in their guardianship ofNew Zealand’s heritage.


Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary: July 20, 1919 – January 11, 2008 was appointed foundation patron of the Trust in 2002 and was inaugurated at the official opening of the Trust at the Bream Head Scenic Reserve.

Sir Ed, (as he was affectionally known to all) was best known as the conqueror of Mt Everest with Sherpa Tensing Norgay during an expedition led by Sir John Hunt in 1953.  He turned to Antarctic exploration and led theNew Zealandsection of the Trans-Antarctic expedition from 1955 to 1958. In 1958 he participated in the first mechanized expedition to the South Pole. Hillary went on to organize further mountain-climbing expeditions but, as the years passed, he became increasingly concerned with the welfare of the Nepalese people. In the 1960s, he returned toNepal, to aid in the development of the society, building clinics, hospitals and 17 schools.

In accepting patronship of the Trust, Sir Edmund Hillary said, “A new century has dawned and with it the realisation that we now stand at the crossroads – the planet’s survival is in our hands, and each of us must contribute to the process of renewal and restoration. With your help, the forests of Bream Head will flourish again and be filled with bird song.”