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Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust

The Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust - Nga Maunga ki te Moana was established in 2002. It is a charitable trust, that was formed to provide a strategic base for community and school-based conservation work.

The Trust provides technical support for schools, community groups and government departments who are working on conservation initiatives. Our vision sees our biodiversity - coastal areas, streams, lakes and wetlands - as respected taonga, and as part of the whole system. We believe that restoration of any part of the system supports the entire system, and we view education as central to all environmental restoration.

Current Trust Programmes 

The Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust was established primarily to umbrella the  Experiencing Marine Reserves and Whitebait Connection programmes. Both projects have been recognised nationally as leading edge marine conservation programmes in the education field.

Experiencing Marine Reserves is lead by Samara Nicholas, whose pioneering work in marine education saw her awarded the inaugural Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award in 2005.

Whitebait Connection is currently coordinated  by Kim Jones. This programme aims to inspire and educate schools, community groups and tangata whenua to restore and take care of the life sustaining force of their local streams and catchments.

Both programmes reinforce the vision of the Trust, and provide opportunities for students and communities to engage in marine and freshwater conservation.

The formation of our Trust brings together an extensive array of professional skills and capabilities. Within our group there is a balance of youth and experience, science, social science, educational and leadership accomplishment. Collectively amongst the Trustees of MTSCT we have decades of educational, science and business experience. We have extensive networks and professional relationships to call upon.   We have a vision of how education for sustainability can develop and play an important role in our communities. Our programmes make a unique and significant contribution to environmental education.


Vince.jpgVince 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 is the driving force behind our Trust website  He is currently a non-consulting trustee. Vince has responsibility for advising on any issues and supporting consulting trustees.


RVG_06_10_2005_Picture_001.jpgDr Roger Grace is a well known marine biologist and professional photographer. Roger is an active campaigner for marine conservation in New Zealand and internationally. He has played a role in many of New Zealand’s marine reserve campaigns and is 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. He is a regular contract photographer on the Greenpeace vessel "Rainbow Warrior" and received the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 2005.  Roger supports 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. 

samarapic.jpgSamara Nicholas (nee Sutherland) is an original trustee and is the Programme Director. 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, with the support of Vince Kerr, she founded the EMR community guided snorkel days in 2004  and co-founded the Drains to Harbour and Mangrove Discovery programmes. 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 all programmes. She is also the national EMR coordinator. 

kim.JPGKim Jones (nee Boyle) is the Whangarei District coordinator for the EMR programme and co-founder of the Drains to Harbour campaign and Mangrove Discovery Programme.  Kim is also the national coordinator for the Whitebait Connection Programme. She achieved her Open Water SCUBA Diving certification and surf lifesaving bronze star and medallion whilst at high school. She is a graduate of the Diploma in Environmental Management and Conservation at Northland Polytechnic.  Kim received the Golden Bay Cement student scholarship in 2005, which has helped fund her education and provided her with experience working within the environmental management industry.  She has a National Certificate in Business Administration and Computing.  Kim was a selected member of the youth delegates at the 2006 Digital Earth symposium on sustainability and is also a committee member of the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education, Northland Branch. Kim has been involved with EMR as a volunteer since 2003 and has been the Whangarei District coordinator since 2006. She recently achieved her Dive Master certification and has been elected as a member of the Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve Advisory Committee. Kim is a consulting trustee.  


hilton_pic.JPGHilton Leith is our current chairperson. Hilton sees life as an opportunity to continually learn and change. Hilton has been fortunate to spend half of his working life free diving for rock lobster, paua and sea urchin. The balance was spent in real estate. He saw both of these as wonderful opportunities to learn about himself and his connection with his surroundings. Hilton is a PADI Rescue Diver and a knowledgeable businessman.  He believes our future is linked to how we treat our environment today. Hilton has added value to the trust in the areas of financial processes and strategic vision as a non-consulting trustee.



Sioux Campbell has a long association with environmental education, promotion and sustainability initiatives stretching back to her early days as a journalist at the start of the 1980s.  Providing local coverage of the 245T and Think Big programme issues in Taranaki was the beginning of a life-time commitment to engaging others in environmental protection.  Sioux's professional background as a reporter, public relations practitioner, educationalist and regional manager brings a range of skills to the trust, including her involvement with creation of the Te Paepae Aotea Marine Reserve.  Sioux is also a PADI Dive Master, open water swimmer, triathlete, kayaker and community participant. She is a life member of NZAEE, a fellow of the Public Relations Insitute of NZ and certificate member of the International Association for Public Participation.  Sioux is currently assisting us in a virtual capacity from Australia.  She has a key role in decision making within the trust and in strategic development, document review and advice.

Visit the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust website