EcoQuest Faculty, Staff and Academic Associates

"I cannot thank the entire staff enough for a wonderful semester. You all created a special, impactful, close-knit community of enthusiastic learners ready to apply environmental, political, ecological, and cultural knowledge in the real world.” 

Isabel Lisle, University of Vermont, EcoQuest Fall 2018

Jono Clark

Director, Operations Manager

BS (1979) Victoria University, Wellington; Dip.Teaching (1980), Christchurch College of Education. Jono specialised in student-directed learning and high-school program and curriculum development (science, maths and outdoor studies), and has extensive experience in adult education. He is one of the co-founders of the Environmental Education Centre of New Zealand. Jono’s personal interest in just societies has led him into a life-time involvement in development of service learning and iwi-relations. Jono maintains supportive working relationships with local iwi, local schools and the wider community of stakeholders. Jono is the key person for the EcoQuest network for international education. Jono manages the field centre and provides operational support for all EcoQuest programs. Jono is responsible for risk management, enhancing operational performance and maintaining the well-being of the organisation, its staff and its students. 

Ria Brejaart

Academic Director, Co-founder of the EcoQuest Education Foundation, Executive Trustee

Dip Parks & Recreation Management (1987); M.Appl.Sci in Ecology (1994) Lincoln University (with distinction). Ria is one of the co-founders of the Environmental Education Centre of New Zealand. She has a personal interest in community initiatives that generate conservation outcomes. Her commitment to education for sustainability and the natural sciences led her to become one of the co-founders of EcoQuest. Ria is responsible for program and curriculum development, program delivery and the development of student research. Ria supervises the EcoQuest academic team for the Ecology in Action and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Aotearoa programs. Ria maintains relationships with academic and research associates and external collaborators and liaises with the UNH-EcoQuest Academic Program Coordinator.

Ecology in Action Faculty and Staff

David Clarke


BSc in Environmental Science (2009) National University of Ireland Galway (first class hons); PhD in Acarology, National University of Ireland Galway (2015). David has worked in Ireland as a lecturer in ecological survey techniques and sustainable resource management. He has a strong interest in terrestrial and freshwater ecology, entomology, epidemiology and human health. David shares responsibility for delivering programs as well as developing and supervising student research projects.

Shelley Langton-Myers


BSc (Hons, first class) in Zoology (2010) Massey University, Ph.D. in Biology (2014), The University of Auckland. Shelley has worked in South Carolina, USA, as a Postdoctoral Fellow researching beetle diversity in the Southern Appalachians. Her professional interests include entomology, terrestrial ecology and biogeography, while she also has strong personal interests in conservation and the environment. Shelley shares responsibility for delivering programs as well as developing and supervising student research projects.

Thomas Everth


Thomas is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato. He obtained a master's degree in Physics in Germany. After an international career in the IT industry and several years in the USA, Thomas settled in New Zealand and became a teacher. He has been teaching Physics, Mathematics, IT and Earth and Space Science at high school. Thomas is currently undertaking PhD research in Climate Change Education and is especially interested in post-humanist ontology and the relationship of society with the more-than-human world.

Image: Maarten Holt, Fairfax Media

Image: Maarten Holt, Fairfax Media

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Academic Associate, Lecturer

B.Mus (Hons) Victoria University of Wellington (1989), MPhil Massey University (1991), PhD Victoria University of Wellington (1998). Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal is an independent researcher and consultant, and a freelance composer, musician and storyteller. He is passionate about the ‘creative potential’ of indigenous knowledge and communities which he explores through research, teaching and advising, and through music and story. Charles has written/edited six books and ten reports on aspects of mātauranga Māori and iwi histories and traditions. He is also the founder and leader of whare tapere – iwi based ‘houses’ of storytelling, dance, games, music and other entertainments – which takes place in Hauraki. Previously he was a Director at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Director of Graduate Studies and Research at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, Ōtaki, and Professor of Indigenous Development and Director, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, University of Auckland. Charles belongs to Marutūahu, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngā Puhi.

Natasha Bansal

Kaiwhakaako Field Leader, Research Supervisor

BVSc AH (2010), Maharashtra Animal & Fishery Sciences University, India, PGDip
(Honours) (2013), PhD in Conservation Biology (2020), Massey
University. Natasha has extensive experience working with birds, especially
kiwi. At EcoQuest, Natasha shares responsibility for field exercises and
extended field trips, as well as supervising student research projects. 

Jeff Pendleton

Kaiwhakaako Field Leader

BSc in Geography, Victoria University, Wellington (2012). Jeff has a wide range of work experience including outdoor recreation, ecological restoration, permaculture projects, ecotherapy, environmental education as well as being a keen gardener. The thread that weaves these together is Jeff’s personal interest in understanding and creating experiences which strengthen relationships between people and nature. At EcoQuest, Jeff shares responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips, as well as support for directed research projects. Jeff is also the student affairs coordinator/kairuruki manaaki.

Matt Knott

Kaiwhakaako Field Leader

BSc in Biology (2014) University of the Fraser Valley, Canada; MSc in Marine Biology and Ecology (2018) James Cook University, Australia. Matt specializes in shark ecology and is passionate about outdoor and in water activities. He is a scientific diver and ecologist, with experience working on large scale projects like the Global Finprint Project and the Crown of Thorns Starfish Control Program in Australia. Matt is passionate about conservation initiatives and education as a means to preserve natural areas. At EcoQuest, Matt shares responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips, as well as support for directed research projects.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Aotearoa Faculty and Staff

Willy Cameron

Lead Academic/Lecturer

BSc in Genetics and Molecular Biology (1995), MSc (Hons) in Genetics and Molecular Biology (1998) Victoria University, Wellington. Willy grew up in Wellington, where his family life included extensive vegetable gardens, which in part fuelled his passion for learning about food and cooking. A move to the Tasman district of Te Waipounamu the South Island led Willy’s focus to shift from conservation to sustainable agriculture: food / food systems, forestry and land management. His keen interest in learning processes led Willy to teaching, both in Aotearoa and internationally (International Honours Program – New Zealand, India, Mexico). Willy is well-connected to the growers and farmers in the Motueka catchment. Willy has a commitment to the sustainability of rural ecology, production and community. His experience with many aspects of sustainable agriculture and his passion for education led Willy to join the EcoQuest team. Willy is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the SAFSA program, he is the academic point person for several weeks of the semester, and he shares the responsibility of maintaining relationships with external collaborators and contributors to the program.

Scott Williamson


BScAg in Agricultural Economics (1988) University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada (Distinction); MAgSc, Natural Resource Economics (1990), Lincoln University (Honours). Scott has extensive experience in central government policy and operations – specifically in fisheries and aquaculture (sustainable harvest levels, allocating catches and water space). Over the last decade Scott’s focus has been on sustainable entrepreneurship - primarily in the apiculture sector, mentoring small businesses, economics and teaching. He has a professional interest in developing ecologically and economically sound agricultural enterprises and food systems as well as collaborative models of rural social and community change. His personal interests include beekeeping and experimentation with diversified sustainable farming and conservation practices. Scott shares responsibility for delivering the SAFSA program, with an emphasis on farm and agribusiness placements, and local sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

Aneika Young

Ngāti Rārua, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Ngāti Ruanui.


BSc Environmental Studies and Māori Resource Management (2011), MSc in Environmental Studies (2014), Victoria University, Wellington. Aneika grew up in Motueka in Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Māui (Top of the South Island). Aneika began her career in Environmental Studies in the tourism industry. She currently works part time as an Environmental Scientist and Māori Cultural Advisor at the Cawthron Institute and is part of the Māori Business Development and Research team, building Māori capability and providing advice amongst staff. Aneika is an environmental consultant, and her research interests focus on the interface between Mātauranga Māori/Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science and how these two discourses meet to provide environmental solutions. Aneika is interested in restoration, conservation and ensuring natural resources and land use practices are sustainable moving forward, in particular the impacts of agriculture on freshwater catchments and how these practices can be mitigated. As a manawhenua representative Aneika has a variety of governance roles on multiple boards. At EcoQuest, Aneika shares responsibility for delivery of the SAFSA program, with an emphasis on Te Ao Māori iwi context and food systems, and indigenous farming practices. She is the point person for several program components and case studies.

Sean Weaver

Lecturer/Academic Advisor

Sean has a BSc Hons (1st Class) in Botany, and a PhD in Forestry. Sean is founder and Executive Director of Ekos - a social enterprise focusing on market-based mechanisms for environmental protection and sustainable development, based in Christchurch. He is an expert in carbon markets and market-based mechanisms for environmental financing. He is a consultant to national and local governments, multilateral banks, small medium and large businesses/corporations, with a focus on sustainable land management, restorative forestry, climate resilience, and regenerative agriculture. He is a former senior lecturer in Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington (9 years). Sean is also a Zen teacher in the Diamond Sangha Zen lineage and runs a compassionate environmentalism training programme called ‘Ekodo’. Sean contributed much to the final shape of the EcoQuest program and he provides academic support for the team and is involved in program delivery.

Dave Wilson-Howarth

Field Leader

David grew up on the North Wales coast in the UK where he completed his training in hospitality and catering. David worked in a diversity of roles, from commis Chef to hotel management, in places as varied as London’s vibrant hospitality culture and the tourism sector in Abel Tasman National Park in Aotearoa. David and his wife settled in Te Tau Ihu o te Waka a Maui (Top of the South Island), where they started a family and a Sushi Café. After 7 years, they sold the Café. David used his considerable experience in the food industry and in development and delivery of customised training systems, to provide training courses for hospitality outlets in the Nelson-Tasman region. His recent engagements include work as a course facilitator to assist people into employment through skills training and mentoring for the Ministry of Social Development. As a keen gardener, David aims to maximise food and biodiversity as part of his vision to offer green trade, and to be part of increasing the variety of local produce. In his role as field leader for the SAFSA program, David shares the responsibility to ensure the safety, smooth running, and enjoyment of life and learning at EcoQuest. He is responsible for catering and supports pastoral care and operations.

Academic Associates

Kim Babbitt

UNH-EcoQuest Academic Programme Coordinator

Kim is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, COLSA and Professor of Wildlife Ecology, DNRE, University of New Hampshire. Kim liaises with the EcoQuest Academic Director and Director. She supports collaborative research initiatives and programme development.

Ph.D., Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida; M.S., Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Texas A&M University; B.S., Wildlife Management, University of New Hampshire.

Peter Maddison MNZM, FRES

Academic Associate

Peter is an entomologist and ecologist. He is a gifted taxonomist who is frequently enlisted to identify species throughout the Pacific. Peter is a consummate advocate for maintenance of biodiversity. His career includes serving as Councillor for Waitākere City, teaching at various tertiary institutions, and managing an ecological consultancy service. Peter served as President of the Royal Forest and Bird Society of New Zealand for several years. In 2016, Peter entered the ranks of Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, and in 2021 was awarded Membership of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his outstanding contributions to conservation. Peter has been with EcoQuest since 1999. He is a remarkable mentor, provides academic support for EcoQuest faculty and research activities, and is the taxonomic auditor for EcoQuest biodiversity work.

Ph.D., Applied Entomology, University of London; B.Sc.(Hons), Zoology, University of London.

Isabel Castro

Research Associate

Isabel is a Professor in Wildlife Biology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Her interests include animal behaviour, parasite-host interactions, anatomy, morphology, sensory biology, and conservation. Isabel’s research is on island species, particularly birds, but also introduced mammals and charismatic land snails. She has a passion for solving conservation problems, making new biological findings, and working with technology. Isabel was part of the start-up academic team for EcoQuest in 1999-2000. She supports ongoing collaborative monitoring activities with EcoQuest.

Ph.D., Behavioural Ecology, Massey University; M.S., Environmental Biology, Eastern Illinois University; B.Sc., Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. 

Bruce Burns

Research Associate

Bruce is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland.  Bruce is a Trustee of WWF-New Zealand, and a former president of the New Zealand Ecological Society. Bruce’s research interests broadly cover the field of plant ecology in seeking to understand determinants and mechanisms of plant persistence, distribution, and abundance. He has a particular interest in species-level positive feedback mechanisms. Bruce provides academic support for EcoQuest faculty and research activities.

Ph.D., Biogeography, University of Colorado; P.G. Dip., Natural Resources, Lincoln University; B.Sc. and M.Sc.(Hons), Botany, Auckland University.

Danielle Middleton

Research Associate

Danielle is a Molecular Ecologist (Biocontrol & Molecular Ecology) at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. Her current research involves developing environmental DNA (eDNA) applications for population genetic and genomic analyses of kiwi and identifying genetic drivers of kiwi behaviour and how these link with the gut-microbiome through the gut-brain axis. Danielle is a former lecturer at EcoQuest, she supports collaborations and is a resource for EcoQuest faculty.

Ph.D., Ecology and Biodiversity, Victoria University of Wellington; M.Sc., Zoology (First Class Honours), Massey University; B.Sc., Zoology & Microbiology, Massey University.


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