Staff Bios

Alison Dewes - Wai Kōkopu Project Manager
Alison Dewes

Wai Kōkopu Project Manager

BVSc MSc SNM, ASNM, Cert in Adult Education.

Life Experience

Alison’s Experience includes:

  • Boards/Ministerial Appoinments – NZVA board, Health Research Council board, Freshwater Leaders Advisory panel, Molesworth Steering committee
  • Tipuwhenua – Sustainable Ag Consultancy Business – 2015-present
  • Head of Environment Landcorp & Envt Reference Group (2015-2020)
  • Raukawa charitable trust – Sustainable Ag Advisor (2012-2015)
  • Headlands (Sustainable Ag Consultancy Manager)
  • Agfirst & Agreseach – Envt and Farm systems modelling
  • Nestle Australia (Milk Procurement)
  • Commonwealth Bank Australia (Business Lending and Development)
  • Intelact Australia – Manager
  • Sharemilked & Owned & developed farms, NZ & Aus 1997-present
  • Dairy & Equine Veterinarian – range of practices in NZ and Australia (flying vet, locums, dairy practices in NZ)

Alison is proud to have three wonderful children that are passionate about nature, she says this is very heartwarming. From the point of advocating for change and the future, she is proud to be chosen as a NEXT foundation fellow 2020,  River Voice Award Winner 2019, and finalist for NZ Sustainability Champion 2015. 

Her hobbies include being outdoors, being active, horse riding, biking, dancing, good wine, music and spending time with family.  


Alison is from a family of 8 children. Many of who are involved in health, education and advocacy for a better future. Their great grandfather was heavily involved in the set up of the Christchurch central dairy company in the late 1800s- early 1900s, they have a long history of dairying in the family, on Alison’s mothers side, starting at Lake Ellesmere, and migrating up to dairy farm at Tirau. They have always had avid love of animals, and breeding good lines of both sheep, and jersey cows. Her father (Harry) grew up and was close to the Mohaka (willow flat) – sheep farming, on the east coast they farmed around Gisborne, then out of Napier – He then became veterinarian and inspired a few of us along the way. 

Alison’s family have always had strong connections with local iwi, depending on where we have been living at the time. Alison’s family farms were linked to two very important rivers, and springs: Her mothers farm bordered the blue spring at Tirau, her grandparents farm was at Leeston in Canterbury. Alison’s fathers farm - Willow Flat, then to Eskdale, and a close association with trout fishing, as kids they spent many days at the Waipunga – on the taupo plains. In Australia (farmed there 15 years) they experienced troubled times with water and fires, where the government bought back much of the over-allocated water rights. Since returning to NZ, Alison has a farmlet at Hamurana, where she has sold her nitrogen, in an effort to help the goal of the Rotorua lakes health, and has replanted a lot of natives on it.  

See here:

Project Vision

Alison would like to see improved freshwater and biodiversity outcomes, and an inspired farming community that is able to make change, develop stronger more resilient businesses and be more prepared for climate change and replenishing our shared whenua. 

Alison is passionate about bringing together a wide range of skills across the community and from all walks of life, in a transdisciplinary way to appreciate what we need to do, to protect and enhance our freshwater, groundwater, and receiving water bodies, such as our estuaries and oceans ultimately. 

Greg Stevenson - Wai Kōkopu Technology partner at Landkind (GPS-it)
Greg Stevenson

Wai Kōkopu Technology partner at Landkind (GPS-it)

PGDip in GIS, BSc (Hons) in Geography and a BA in Economics

Life Experience

Professionally Greg has worked at Landkind and GPS-it, but has also worked as a pruner, tractor driver, bartender, beekeeper, kitchen hand and on the processing line at Sanfords.

Greg is proud to say he has played 100 premier games for Te Puna. His interests include rugby, hiking, maps and travelling.


Greg is Te Puna born and raised. His parents are from Central Otago apples and Manawatu sheep and beef backgrounds.

Project Vision

Greg would like to see the project create improvements in processes and improvements in outcomes for both farmers and the environment.

Greg has a passion for applying technology to agriculture and he likes to do things well. A project like this is too important to do poorly. He genuinely believe there is an opportunity to do good for farmers and their communities.

Sally Lee - Farm Systems Modeller
Sally Lee

Farm Systems Modeller

B.Ag.Sc (1st Hons), Certified Nutrient Management Advisor, (currently doing GHG with exam next week).

Life Experience

Sally has worked in agri-business for 24 years, holding a variety of positions from Land Management Officer (Hawke’s Bay Regional Council), Regional Manager for WoolPro (predessor to Beef + Lamb NZ), Consultant for AgFirst Waikato, Environment Advisor for Synlait and being self-employed. For the past 14 years, Sally and her husband have been running a hill country 500 ha sheep & beef property in West Waikato.

Sally is proud to have been involved in the first development and signing off of an Esplande Strip under the RMA. As well as being a plenary speaker at the Royal Agricultural Society in Darwin alongside Prince Phillip. She is also proud of what they have achieved on farm, although she says it always feels that there is much more and further to go.

When Sally is not out on the farm or behind the office desk she enjoy spending time with family, the outdoors and doing crafts. She also dabbles in Dog Agility with her daughter, currently running 3 dogs between them – a beardie, a heading dog and a foxy, as well as a young foxy in training.


Hawke’s Bay is home for Sally and her extended family. She is currently in the process of organising a ‘Hobson Family Reunion’ to bring the family all together in 2022. She moved to the Waikato in 2001. Sally has one daughter and two adult step-daughters. Sally’s parents farmed sheep and beef on a 1000 acre property at Argyll. Both grandparents also farmed in Hawke’s Bay - Porangahau and Maraekakaho / Otamauri. Sally and her husband have been on their currently hill country property for 14 years. In that time we have undertaken annual pole planting, advocate grazing regime to protect the steep sidlings, and retired a number of streams and wetlands on the property. They have worked closely with the Waikato District Council to achieve this. The farm was finalist in the 2018 and 2019 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards taken home 5 awards – Beef + Lamb NZ Livestock Award (x2) , Ballance Agri-nutrients Soil Management Award, Hill Laboratories Agri-science Award, Waikato River Authority Catchment Improvement Award.

Project Vision

Sally is involved in working with the Lighthouse Farmers, undertaking cascade modelling on their farms to work through with them opportunities to farm with a lighter footprint using Farmax and Overseer. 
General management, support and faciliation around working together with the information and monitoring data for 
better outcomes. 

Sally feels the collaborative catchment work being done here is pretty exciting. To be involved from the beginning and see it evolve and morph into something greater she sees as privilege.  To see individuals realise that they can make the step changes required is so rewarding to her.  

Rick Rapana - Co - Chair
Rick Rapana

Co - Chair

Bach. Business Studies (Massey) – Major in Financial Accounting, Post Graduate in Management Accounting

Life Experience

1969 – 1980 Royal NZ Navy – Communications & Diving
1981 – 1984 – Owner Driver – Heavy Transport (whilst completing Business Studies)
1985 – 1990 – Television NZ – Financial Services
1991 – 2015 – Contract Management Accountant, Systems Analyst for Public & Private Sector (Ministry of Health, Dept of Conservation, ERMA, Office for Parlimentary Commisioner for the Environment, Aviation Security, McCarthy Transport, AF Produce Carriers, Plumbing Supplies, Electrical Supplies, Shell Dealer Network, NZ Red Cross and others) 
2016 – Retired & working casually in the Kiwifruit Industry 

Rick is proud of raising a family of 5 boys all of whom are great guys and being a Koro to 5 grand-sons and 2 grand-daughters. 

Despite living with a degenerative kidney disease since he was young, Rick and the Renal Teams  at Waikato & Auckland Hospitals,  successfully navigated through a kidney transplant in March 2021 and returned to work within 7 weeks.  His donor was his beautiful wife Wendy.  “Some would say I chose well”  

Rick enjoys scuba diving, golf and being with his whanau 


Rick was born on his grand-parents farm in Pukehina to Tamihana & Doreen Rapana.  They stayed there until he was about 3yrs old. School years spent in Tokoroa – farm could not sustain the expanding whanau. He joined the Navy in 1969 – left in 1980. He moved & worked in Tauranga for 4 years, moved & worked in Auckland until end of 1990 and then took contract positions in Wellington until my retirement in 2016. Rick & his wife left Wellington and moved home to his turangawaewae – Maketu.  

Through Ricks father Tamihana, my Maori affiliations are generous. His Grandfather (Taimuri) parents were Te Taru Rapana & Raiha Williams. Te Taru is a direct descendant of Rangitihi through the lineage of Te Takinga = Pikiao II – Pikiao I = Rangitihi. Raiha Williams is a direct descendant of Tuhourangi through the lineage of Rangiwewehi = Tahakeheimoa = Whakaue II = Uenukukopako = Tuhourangi 

His Grandmother (Amiria) parents were Rutene & Manuka. Rutene is a direct descendant of Toroa (the paaramount cheif of the Mataatua waka) through the lineage of Te Raina = Tamati = Te Puia = Marumaomao = Rongomai = Awanui-a-rangi = Toroa. Manuka is a direct descendant of Waitaha through the lineage of Makino = Tu Tewha = Parekotuku = Peru = Naia = Tai Whanake = Waitaha 

Ricks wife Wendy is a direct descendant through her Grandfather Matoe Wineera to Te Rauparaha – paramount chief of the Ngati-Toarangatira Iwi of Wellington.  Her whakapapa through her mother Velda extends through her Grandmother Huinganutu to Ngati Ruanui and Ngaruahine Iwi of South Taranaki 

Their whanau Trust from our father Tamihana, are shareholders in 38 blocks of land throughout the Rotorua Lakes, Paengaroa, Maketu & the upper Pongakawa catchment.  Two farm Trusts are managed directly and a further 12 landblocks are leased. 

Project Vision

Rick would like to see the project create a significant partnership between Wai Kōkopu Inc and Catchment Iwi/Hapū, to restore the mauri and mana of the Waihi Estuary and its tributaries. 

Rick has the vision for the successful participation of Catchment Iwi/Hapū, where Māori principles, values and interests are identified and valued within the Catchment Communities. 

Rachel Mudge - Farm Systems Modeller
Rachel Mudge

Farm Systems Modeller


Life Experience

Rachel Mudge, within the Wai Kōkopu project team is responsible for building the Overseer farm system files, developing and writing the farm plans.  Rachel has a Bachelor of Management Studies and post graduate Nutrient Management certification (CNMA).

Her first technical job was doing Electronic Data Inventory, (EDI) entering kiwifruit pallet codes at Eleos Packhouse, a good lesson in accuracy and the importance of the horticulture industry to N.Z.  

Rachel also worked at Kiwi Produce, in administration and designing packaging, at this time she was chosen as a Young Leader in the Horticulture Industry. 

After a few years working on a sheep and beef farm, Rachel spent 5 years at Summit Quinphos interpreting soil and herbage tests and creating recommendations for farmers.  During this role she was introduced to using Overseer as a nutrient budgeting tool helping identify for farmers where they could best utilise nutrients economically.

Headlands Consultancy introduced her to developing farm plans around the Waikato Peat Lakes and sustainable farming projects. 


Rachel is a fourth generation ‘farmer’ here in New Zealand.   Her parents worked their way through contract and sharemilking positions to their first farm ownership when she was 10.   So early on Rachel learnt the value of hard work and practical skills.  Both of their farms in Reporoa backed onto the Waikato River we loved this river, including activities such as canoeing, fishing and swimming in the hot springs that fed into it.   Rachel’s high school education at Reporoa College finished with a 7th form year at Heisenberg Gymnasium in Hamburg, Germany. 

Combining Rachel’s cumulative knowledge of farming, animals, the natural world, strategy, and a foreign culture provides an understanding for how people, animals and the land can live well.  She is motivated to search to the heart of matters, and determined to work and achieve solutions to a high standard.  

Project Vision

Rachel’s hope for this project is that we learn to see beyond our individual limitations and prejudices, for the work to be visionary and an inspiration to others in how we work together, build community, bringing healing and faith in a positive future for farming. 

John Scrimgeour - Board Member
John Scrimgeour

Board Member

Graduated from the School of Hard Knocks

Life Experience

John has lived and farmed in the Bay of Plenty for 40 years.  John’s hobby is farming, John also loves spending time with his family, enjoying food, tramping and travelling. 


John’s great grandparents settled in Collingwood Golden Bay in 1850’s migrating from Scotland. 

Project Vision

John wants to alleviate the pressures placed on our rohe. John is keen to see a community that understands the interactions between people, land and environment.  

Thomas Grant - Wai Kōkopu Programme Manager
Thomas Grant

Wai Kōkopu Programme Manager

BSc, PGDip Water Resource Mgt

Life Experience

Thomas has work for Bay of Plenty Regional Council for 6 Years, prior to this during university he gained experience working in a kiwifruit packhouse, floriculture (Rose Growing), Sheep and Beef Farm and Bee Keeping.  

Thomas is proud to have achieved a life where he gets paid to work in a field that that engages him, and he is passionate about. 

Thomas’s hobbies include; Woodworking from milling raw logs to finished cabinetry, Outdoors in general and farming  


Thomas lived and worked on family farm backing onto the Kaimais since the age 4. His grandparents developed the property originally from milling and protected and restored over half of the property in QE2 covenanted native bush. 

Project Vision

Thomas is passionate about being to be involved to get the opportunity to show what is achievable when different people from all backgrounds work together to solve a common problem. He would like to show others results of a community working together to achieve restoration.  

Tom Anderson - Wai Kōkopu Restoration Manager
Tom Anderson

Wai Kōkopu Restoration Manager

BSc maj. Environmental Science/Marine Biology

Life Experience

Tom has recently graduated from Victoria University at his time here he worked as research assistant in conservation ecology and public policy.  

In Tom’s spare time he loves to spend time near the ocean and basically anywhere outdoors! His hobbies include surfing, fishing, hunting, skiing and so on, when the weather isn’t playing it’s part you will find Tom enjoying music and playing the drums.  


Tom grew up rurally near Cambridge with his parents and sister. He has lived in Wellington for last five years for university. 

Tom’s childhood was hands on with parents who work in the agricultural sector, who love the outdoors and have an interest in land and water and how they use. His career pathway became a natural progression for him.  

Project Vision

Tom would love to help build a community where we are all stewards of the land, aiming at long-term sustainability – all working together to reverse some of the ecological loss that has occurred in the catchment, and ensuring that we can continue to use the land for many generations to come.  

Tom feels that land management is a complex but fascinating space to work in as we try to figure out how to make a living from the land in a sustainable way. Trying to solve this problem is something he finds really interesting, and for him it is a bonus he gets to work outdoors a lot in a beautiful part of the world, talking to passionate people everyday.  

Maria Low - Contractor - Communications
Maria Low

Contractor - Communications

National Certificate in Journalism

Life Experience

Where hasn’t Maria worked? Maria was a print journo in NZ for a lot of years (Maria reckons telling how many would be too revealing), then she went into Comms in 2003 and has worked in comms manager’s roles with the NZ Police, NZ Fire Service, Cancer Society, Child Youth and Family and Northland Inc.  

Something that Maria is proud of is that she once saved a woman’s life! A visitor from the UK. Maria and her were the only ones climbing Mt Ngauruhoe when the weather turned bad. The cloud had come in fast so she almost didn’t see her. She was terrified and frozen. She was crying and didn’t want to move, and she actually thought she was going to die. Once you reach a certain point on that volcano there’s no going back down other than on the scree, so Maria took her backpack, gave her her warm beanie and pulled her to the top, rock by rock. We had to run to get off the trail before it got dark, but she fell and sprained her ankle so Maria had to carry her out. Funny thing was, Maria wasn’t meant to be on Mt Ngauruhoe, she’d taken a wrong turn and wandered off the Tongariro Crossing, but not realising it was Ngauruhoe and thinking it must just be part of the Crossing, she figured I’d just better climb it and get on my way, and lucky she did!  

Maria's loves are her daughters, and her interests are reading, walking, going to the gym, learning languages, cooking and the gym. 


Maria was born in Australia to Kiwi parents, and grew up in the Waikato.  

Toku whakapapa kei raro I te korowai o toku waka Ko Te Arawa. (My ancestry is under the korowai of Te Arawa waka). 

My father is Māori, we’re Ngāti Whakaue, and our marae is Hurungaterangi in Ngāpuna, Rotorua. My mother is Ngāti Pākehā, she was born in Whangārei.  

Project Vision

Maria wants to see it succeed, or at least in her lifetime she wants to witness a reversal of the harm that’s been done. She want to see a shift from intensive agriculture to sustainable farming – a win/win. And she wants to see the natural systems from the awa to the whenua re-balanced, and for the kōkopu, inanga, birdlife and other species that live in, on, under and over the catchment, to thrive once more.  

There is no Planet B. This mahi matters! 

Claire McCorkindale - Land Management Officer for Waihi Estuary Focus Catchment, Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Claire McCorkindale

Land Management Officer for Waihi Estuary Focus Catchment, Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Masters in Natural Resource Management and Ecological Engineering, Bachelor of Science majoring in Conservation and Ecology

Life Experience

Claire works at Bay of Plenty Regional Council, she has spent time working in the compliance team and consents team before joining land management in September in 2020. 

Claire is proud of fundraising and successfully constructing a pre-school/feeding centre at an orphanage in Malawi alongside 10 other Lincoln University students during her time there.  

Claire loves hiking, kayaking, football and baking/cooking. 


Claire grew up on a family run sheep and beef farm located an hour south of Dunedin. The farm had been in their family for 120 years but was sold when she was 15. Her family is now based in Australia, split between Melbourne and Sydney.  

Part of Claire’s heritage that she is just discovering at the moment with the help of Melv is that one of her ancestors was Moriori, which up until now her family hasn’t managed to find out much information on. 

Claire has always had plenty of connection with the land, she grew up on a farm and went to Lincoln University so still has plenty of farming connections.  

Project Vision

Claire would like for the project to allow everyone to be able to work positively and collaboratively together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the health of Waihi Estuary and to increase community connectiveness along the way.  

Claire has always been passionate about the environment and working with people, so this has been an amazing opportunity to work with so many like-minded and motivated individuals and to be able to put what she studied into practice. 

Alanah Ralph  - Wai Kokopu Team, Systems, Reporting and Analysis
Alanah Ralph

Wai Kokopu Team, Systems, Reporting and Analysis

B.Com.Ag & ASNM

Life Experience

After graduating with a bachelor of commerce majoring in Ag, Alanah started her career at Intelact / Headlands mainly working in the Dairy Business of the Year Team consisting of reporting and financial analysis, this grew into assisting with project groups managing and developing reports along side financial and overseer analysis. Alanah really enjoy linking environmental improvements with financial efficiencies, and showing that it isn’t one or the other.  

Whilst working here, Alanah and her brother set up Confinement Escape Rooms in Hamilton in 2016 which took off, overlaying her business analysis skills and learning a new skill set along the way they have grown the business drastically. After Covid outbreak they learnt that diversification is vital for any business, and they have since increased to offer a massive range of products and tailored events to suit. Managing a team of 12 has taught Alanah a lot, but she can proudly say they run a really awesome team and have created systems to suit our diversity.  

Throughout this time she continued contract work for Headlands, and Tipu Whenua to maintain her passion for agricultural and the environment. 

Alanah’s little side hobby, interest and love all wrapped into one is her miniature highland cows, if she could, she would put her desk out in the paddock. She is not alone in thinking they are cute with recently putting put a video on social media which gained nearly 9 million views!  


Alanah is Waikato born and raised, married to a Waikato lad who grew up on a dairy farm himself.  

Over Alanah’s childhood her family have gone to Tarawera every year to swim and appreciate the beautiful freshwater, it is truly one of their favourite places in the world. 

Project Vision

Alanah wants to see this project not only make great strides with on the ground restoration but also be a role model for other catchments and develop a model that others can easily take on and adapt for their own whenua. With her experience she has learnt that every individual is unique and this has driven her passion to develop systems that anyone can interpret and get on board with and she is keen to put this to good use in the project.  

Sharon Searle - SmS Consulting Limited
Sharon Searle

SmS Consulting Limited

With more than 30 years of experience working in senior Human Resources positions in Canada, Switzerland and New Zealand, Sharon Searle has worked with many cultures and a variety of age groups spanning not-for-profit, government, private and international sectors. 

Before coming to New Zealand in 1999, Sharon worked with a large international organisation in Geneva. As the Director, Human Resources, she was responsible for a team of 30 providing services to more than 4,500 employees in operations world-wide. 

Sharon holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Massey University. She is a past member and board member of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO). Although Canadian born she now has dual citizenship with New Zealand and lives in the sunny Bay of Plenty. 

June Mobley - Wai Kokopu Admin / Finance support
June Mobley

Wai Kokopu Admin / Finance support

Experienced finance professional with a passion for delivering value added results, using information technology and over 40 years of experience.

Life Experience

June has worked at Countrywide Porter Novelli, Seeka, Gen-i Spark & Cucumber.  June is proud of moving to New Zealand and making it home for her and husband Alan and their two children, ensuring a better life style. She loves rambling all over New Zealand, enjoying time with her grandchildren, crafting, reading and exploring New Zealand. 


June was born in Banbury a small town in Oxfordshire in England, she moved to New Zealand August 2001 for a better family life leaving 5 siblings. 

June feels a connection with the land being that she previously owned an avocado orchard, and has family that owns a kiwifruit orchard as well as working at Seeka for five years learning about Kiwifruit herself. 

Project Vision

New Zealand was June’s family’s choice of home due to NZ being one of the most beautiful countries in the world. New Zealand have amazing ranges of landscapes, including rainforests, glaciers, mountains, deserts, plains, fords and a variety of coastlines. June feels we all must do our part to protect New Zealand landscapes, freshwater and ecosystem. We must all work together to protect the beauty of NZ. 

John Burke - Trustee/Treasurer/Restoration Coach
John Burke

Trustee/Treasurer/Restoration Coach

BAgSc (Massey)

Life Experience

John career began with Rural bank moving into self-employment to allow John to pursue different positions and personal interests.  John’s career has included: 

• Rural valuer and agri-business consultant
• Managing director and shareholder Coolstore Management Services Ltd
• Managing Director Te Awanui Huka Pak Ltd
• Financial Controller and partner Hillcote Forest
• Financial controller/advisor to various businesses and Hapū Trusts
• CEO Kiwifruit Vine Health
• Project Manager Manuka Plantations and Kiwibee Apiary for Comvita
• Director Seeka Ltd
• Farmer and Kiwifruit Grower
• Environmentalist 

John loves to spend his free time enjoying his Whanau, surfing and mountain biking. 


John’s family immigrated from Galway, Ireland to NZ in 1847. He has close affiliations with hapu in the Tauranga Moana who were shareholders in Te Awanui Huka Pak.  John is Co-owner of Pukekauri Farm with his twin brother Rick. Pukekauri Farm has over 20 years environmental restoration work. Regenerative farming practices are being applied to the pastoral and kiwifruit operations. 

Project Vision

John’s aim is to change land use and farming practices that achieves restoration of Waihi estuary and awa health.   

John’s passion is to be part of  E pai ana nga awa kapai te tangata  (The rivers are good for man)