Blair Walter (Chair)
I was part of the founding team of Mōkihi and have been heavily involved since its establishment in 2016.
I bring enthusiasm and a range of skills to the Trust, on a day to day basis I manage a successful business and have sat on many boards and committees over the years. My goal is to have an effectively working Trust that educates and involves the community in native plant restoration.
The Central Otago landscape has been significantly modified over time and there are few areas of native ecosystems remaining. By establishing small pockets of our local indigenous species around our community, we can educate people about the importance of protecting and enhancing our indigenous flora and fauna. These local species thrive in our unique and challenging environment and assisting areas to revegetate will bring greater plant species biodiversity and increased bird and insect life for us to all enjoy. We owe it to our planet and particularly local area, to be giving something back.
Richard Lord (Deputy Chair)
I joined Mōkihi as a trustee nearly 18 months ago and have been living in the region for 5 years. Through my work, I have excellent knowledge of a wide range of plants and weeks and feel that I can contribute in a meaningful way to the progress of the Trust. I also have a really good spade that loves digging holes to plant trees, shrubs and grasses.
It is important to me to beautify and enhance the landscape, and I enjoy planting natives in the hope that we can create a good environment for the skinks and other biodiversity values and hopefully encourage the native birds into these areas.
Barbara Armstrong (Plant Operations)
Having lived in Cromwell since April 2016, I initially volunteered for several planting days before joining the Trust. Since I was young, I have had a great love of New Zealand’s flora and fauna which continued with our own family tramping with our children. It’s an easy transition from tramping to conservation. I love being outside among native plants and being physically active.
I am excited by the diversity of Central Otago plants and the environmental niches they occupy. I am very concerned about Central Otago’s wilderness areas being degraded by a range of bad practices and subsequent loss of native biodiversity and relish the opportunity to make a difference in this area. As a former teacher, the connection with people is very important to me and I very much enjoy the work with young people.
As one of your new trustees, I joined Mōkihi Trust in early 2020.
I have had the privilege of working for the Department of Conservation for over 30 years, based throughout the Lower South Island and Stewart Island. Managing field-based operations for DOC has given me vast experience at working alongside communities and provided me with a chance to share my experiences, knowledge and passion for conservation efforts and I look forward to sharing these skills as part of the Mōkihi team.
The Cromwell Area is virtually denuded of its original vegetations. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to show our local community how special and varied the plants are that once covered much of the landscape? If we can both show and involve the community in our restoration projects, we can work together to grow a better understanding and passion for conservation.
I have been a Trustee for just over a year now, and am thrilled to share my passion for increasing biodiversity, and for connecting community to their natural heritage. I bring a wealth of experience to the Trust as the former Operations Manager for our friends at the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust (a much larger and established trust), this strategic expertise will help grow Mōkihi to the next stage of our development.
Central Otago has lost so much of its indigenous cover and without easily accessible forest or pockets of forest, communities lose and forget what was there. I think it is so important for the community to be able to see and connect with pockets of reforestation, that will in turn allow them to value these and get out and plant more.
Britta Sonntag (Treasurer)
Moving to New Zealand from Germany just over 16 years ago, two things really impressed me here, the beautiful nature of this country and the spirit of its people.
Initially shocked at Cromwell’s bare landscape, the sense of community is astonishing. This town seems to be run by lots of amazing people that gave a lot of their time to volunteer in all sorts of ways. Raising my two children here, I took the opportunity to join playgroups, sports, Santaland – all possible because of community-driven parents.
Being a non-sportive gardener, Mōkihi Reforestation Trust gives me the chance to give something back to these people. I was so pleased to hear about the idea of restoring Cromwell’s’ natural habitat, that I became part of it from day one.
It is my personal wish to volunteer and give back to this community, and also my imagination of how our lake front will be a paradise in the near future. I want Lake Dunstan to be filled with clean fresh water, its shoreline to become part of New Zealand’s’ unique habitat, a place where I can hear the quirky tūī, be followed by cute fantails and enjoy the stunning variety of New Zealand flora, while biking, walking or running.
I love Cromwell and want to take care of it!
Originally a city boy, with an international upbringing. Andrew has a family background from the Cromwell district. A chartered accountant with a varied career principally in corporate recovery both in New Zealand and internationally.
Additionally qualified as a geologist, with a strong bias toward soil science and ecology, experience in the early 1980s in both the Coromandel Peninsula and Central North Island regions meant experiencing logging of forests (both native forests as well as pine plantations). This experience forged an interest in natural reforestation and species succession, and a desire to be involved in returning areas of New Zealand to not only pre-European but pre-Polynesian forest cover.
Fast forward to recent years, Andrew professionally has come full circle as a semi-permanent resident in the Cromwell area with ever deepening hands on green thumbs involvement in viticulture. In these more recent years Andrew has devoted increasing time to his longstanding passion for forest restoration work, mainly in Central Otago with the Mōkihi Reforestation Trust and its sister restoration groups, but also concurrently active with the Trelissick Park volunteer restoration group in Wellington.