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Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust

Mountains to Sea


The Northland-based Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust (CC23406) was established in 2002, as a charitable umbrella and support organisation for the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) maMTS Logorine education and Whitebait Connection (WBC) freshwater education programmes. These are both leading models in education for sustainability in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Download the Trust Flyer here


Wai Connection MTS EMR WBC Lock up

























The Trusts vision

In the vision of our Trust, the biodiversity of our ocean, coastal areas, our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands is respected as a taonga (treasure). We view these systems as a whole with no boundaries. Restoration of any part of the system supports the whole. Ours is a special generation, we have the opportunity and obligation to reverse past trends of exploitation of the natural world. We feel there is an urgent need to halt continued degradation of the natural systems and biodiversity upon which all life ultimately depends. In the social and cultural realms there are positive paths forward which we will work to develop and support.

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 available nationally.

In addition to EMR and WBC we have developed a range of supporting projects, resources and services such as community guided snorkel days, community events for Seaweek & Conservation week, DVD’s, the MarineNZ website, and the Drains to Harbour and Mangrove Discovery programmes. A diagram of the structure of the trust and its programmes can be viewed by clicking on the link at the top of this page.

The Trust recognises the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and will strive to honor the principles of this founding document. The partnership between the cultures challenges us to learn from and respect the knowledge and wisdom underlying the tikanga (tradition) of our indigenous culture. Empowerment and restoration of the kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is a critical challenge and an even greater opportunity in today's society.

The Trust sees education as a vital part of society and central to all environmental restoration. We will support the community in every way possible to develop environmental education that is based on experiential learning and engagement in real environmental challenges and opportunities facing communities.

The Trust works from a vision that sees communities ultimately holding the solutions and resources to tackle the environmental problems that we face today. The Trust will strive to work in ways that builds community involvement, fosters equity, and works toward a shared vision of ecological sustainability as the basis of all community.

The continued development of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust brings together an extensive array of professional skills and diverse capabilities. Within our group of eight trustees there is a balance of youth and experience, scientific, social scientific, leadership and educational accomplishment. Our trustees include te waha Maori advocate Manuel Springford, businessman Hilton Leith, ecologist Dr. Olly Ball, social sector accelerator Jean-Louis Ecochard, environmental educator Eden Hakaraia, marine biologist and advocate Katrina Goddard, Water Safety educator Geoff Butturini and communications and marketing strategist Matt Keene.

We embrace a philosophy of experiential learning and fostering community engagement in education for sustainability and action. Our work is unique in its simple yet powerful principles and robust scientific foundation. Through this we deliver solutions to some of New Zealand’s most pressing environmental challenges.

An inspiring blend of community based social marketing, education for sustainability and community engagement principles, combined with demonstrated passion and leadership from our trustees, consultants and co-ordinators provides us with a special ability to motivate change.



Dr. Olivier (Olly) Ball - Science Portfolio
I 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.

 Jean-Louis Ecochard - Deputy Chairperson and Secretary

Jean-Louis grew up in France at the onset of the digital age and found in technology the vehicle to quickly convert his ideas into new ways of working that transformed our world. His incessant curiosity led him to pioneer many technologies that we now take for granted: online banking, caller ID, internet access, global systems, B2B, digital trading, video conferencing, online advertising, and eHealth.
Jean-Louis spent the last few decades pursuing his passion of creating digital innovations for good, accelerating the mission of the largest international nonprofits.
Jean-Louis now serves NetHope as Chief Innovation Officer leading The Center of the Digital Nonprofit, a social sector accelerator and the center of excellence for digital transformation in nonprofits.
He resides virtually on the Internet @jecochard and physically in New Zealand where he lives sustainably with his wife and daughters, blending roles of husband, dad and visionary.

Katrina Goddard - Chairperson, Marine Advocate

Katrina is a marine ecologist with over ten years experience working on fisheries and aquaculture management, policy development, marine protection, marine spatial planning and conservation management. Katrina currently works as marine ecologist consultant in Northland.

Growing up in Northland, sailing and scuba diving, Katrina has always had an interest in the marine environment. She is passionate about marine science and ecology and working with hapū and iwi and other stakeholders around New Zealand to restore abundance and safe guard our marine environment for future generations.

Katrina’s role on the Trust is to advise on marine conservation and fisheries management issues and advocacy and support the strategic vision of the Trust.

Sheila Taylor - Treasurer

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha,
Tēnā koutou katoa.
Ko Emiemi te maunga e tū mai nei,
Ko Pupuke te awa, e haerere ana,
Ko Whangaroa te moana,
Ko Ngātokimatawhaorua te waka,
Ko Ngāti Kahu, ko Ngāpuhi ngā iwi,
Ko Ngāti Pakahi ki Whaingaroa, ko Ngāti Uru, ko Te Whanau Pani ngā hapū,
Ko Te Huia, Tahawai ki Pupuke, Mangaiti ngā marae,
No Kaeo, Whaingaroa ahau,
Ko Sheila Taylor tēnei.
Sheila is a daughter of Taitokerau but grew up in small towns across Te Ika a Maui/the fish of Maui (North Island). A childhood spent in small rural communities embedded within Sheila a sense of duty to the environment and the communities that rely on its nourishment.
Sheila is a passionate business professional and civil servant with experience in both the public and private sector.
As a Chartered Accountant, Sheila values the need to understand and evaluate strategic priorities to ensure an entity remains relevant and sustainable in today’s ever-changing environment.

Arla Kerr - Trustee

Arla spent her early years in the Hokianga and Whangārei. After living and working in Wellington and London, she has returned home to Whangārei where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. Arla’s childhood inspired a love and respect of the ocean. This was cemented in High School when she had the privilege of being one of the many students who campaigned successfully for the creation of the Whangārei Harbour Marine Reserve. Diving and snorkelling are currently taking a back-seat while she explores the shallows and rock pools with her kids. Arla balances work as a lawyer with her busy family life. As a barrister, she works with lawyers and clients nationwide in civil and regulatory litigation and investigations. She is a member of Kate Sheppard Chambers (a fully virtual chambers championing the promotion of women in the law, inclusivity and diversity). Arla has been behind the scenes supporting MTSCT since its foundation, and is now proud to be following in the footsteps of her father, Vince Kerr, one of the founding trustees of MTSCT.

Patrick McCann - Trustee

Patrick is a career lawyer by profession, having enrolled as a solicitor in Scotland in the 90s and in New Zealand in 2008. He has gained valuable experience in a variety of positions and locations – as a solicitor in private practice in Scotland, in government and regulatory positions with the New Zealand Crown Law Office, Serious Fraud Office and Financial Markets Authority, and in the commercial sector with KPMG, Southern Cross Healthcare and Accordant Group. Patrick also has extensive voluntary experience, having served as board chairman for an Auckland community law centre for several years. Patrick graduated MBA with the University of Otago in 2018 and qualified as a chartered company secretary in 2022.

Vicky NcNabb - Trustee

Vicky is a passionate community-minded communicator, and is all about working with our communities to promote positive social and environmental impact.

With over 15 years’ experience in communications in New Zealand and abroad, she has been fully dedicated to the not-for-profit sector since 2019, and brings her expertise in communication for impact, advocacy, community engagement, and relationship and partnership building to our board. Vicky is the Comms and Advocacy Lead at Environment Hubs Aotearoa, a nationwide environmental network dedicated to empowering community-led regeneration and resilience. She has a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and a Master's degree in Film Documentary.

Originally from Brazil, she now calls beautiful Whangārei home, where she lives sustainably with her husband and son.

Finley Duncan - Trustee

Finley is an environmental conservationist from Hawke’s Bay currently studying towards an LLB at Victoria University in Wellington. As a Trustee of Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust, Finley brings his passion for youth involvement and community advocacy with the Trust’s core values. Finley also serves on the board of Our Seas Our Future, as a member of the Wellington City Youth Council, and as a Law Reform Leader with the Wellington Community Justice Project. Through these roles, Finley actively contributes to safeguarding New Zealand’s coastal ecosystems, paving the way for a sustainable and environmentally resilient future.

Trust Patrons

Dr Roger Grace 1945-2019
roger graceRoger was a well known marine biologist and professional photographer. Roger was an 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. Roger received the Queen’s Service Medal for public service in 2005. Roger supported the trust programmes as a non-consulting trustee, but also with photographs, expert biological advice, peer review and decision making with regard to grants and programme direction.  He is sorely missed and his legacy will live on through the Dr Roger Grace Memorial Fund.


Samara Nicholas (nee Sutherland)
Sasamara nicholasmara is a founding member of the trust and is a Poutokomanawa/Co-Director - Marine Lead. She 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 established the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme in 2001, and the EMR 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 consulting trustee and has responsibility for the overall management and direction of the marine programmes of the trust. She is also the national EMR coordinator and was awarded a MNZM in 2018.

Kim Jones (nee Boyle)
Kim is the Poutokomanawa/Co-Director - Freshwater Lead and national coordinator for the Whitebait Connection Programme. Kim has led the national expansion of the Whitebait Connection programme since 2008. Kim was an EMR coordinator from 2005-2014 and founded the trusts Drains to Harbour programme. She is a graduate of the Diploma in Environmental Management and Conservation at Northland Polytechnic and a PADI DiveMaster. Kim also has a National Certificate in Business Administration and Computing. Kim is experienced with governance and has been selected to be on many different committees and boards including a selected member of the youth delegates at the 2006 Digital Earth symposium on sustainability, a committee member of the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education, Northland Branch, Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve Advisory Committee, Whangarei Harbour Catchment Group and National Advisory Group for Freshwater Citizen Science. Kim is currently also working towards a Bachelor of Applied Science at NorthTec.  

Trust Advisors


Vince Kerr - Conservation Science Advisor
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 helped to found the Trust in 2002 and was a Trustee from 2002-2020. Vince now has responsibility for advising on any issues and supporting consulting trustees.



Whakamana te maunga Whakamana te wai He mauri o ngā tangata Ngā mea katoa he pai
If we look after the water from the mountains to sea, it will look after us. It is our life force.