Our Trustees

The Trustees of the Southern Lakes Sanctuary bring a wealth of experience to their strategic and governance roles. They are all passionate advocates for a sanctuary within this area of spectacular mountains, lakes and rivers, protecting thriving ecosystems and abundant wildlife that are enjoyed by people who treasure this whenua puiaki.


Greg Lind

Greg Lind recently retired from DOC after 32 years in a number of roles, the most recent being operations manager for Te Anau District, managing Fiordland National Park. He brings extensive experience in leading large-scale predator control programmes such as Battle for our Birds. In addition to this Greg has had much involvement with community groups and commercial businesses engaging in conservation, including on Rakiura/Stewart Island and in the Whakatipu basin. Greg has recently become a trustee of the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust, is an conservation advisor to the National Parks and Conservation Foundation, and is active on conservation projects around his home town of Cromwell.

Leslie Van Gelder

Leslie Van Gelder holds a Ph.D. in Place Studies and Experiential Education and is a Professor of Education with specialisation in global and indigenous education at Walden University. She has worked in the conservation sector since 2006 developing an international global leadership network which linked together conservation and heritage professionals from 55 countries. Her work as an archaeologist answering questions about human responses to climate change has allowed her to bring together and manage diverse teams, government agencies, and traditional landowners towards common goals. In the Queenstown Lakes District she recently served on the mayor’s Vision 2050 taskforce and locally chairs the Glenorchy Heritage and Museum Group. Leslie has also served as a committee member of the Central Otago Lakes Branch of Forest and Bird and currently co-directs the Glenorchy Dark Skies Sanctuary project.

Steve Batstone

Steve brings a strong governance and systems based skill set to the Southern Lakes Sanctuary.  With a range of experience across corporate, council and consultancy organisations, he brings a wealth of talent to the Trust Board.  He is heavily involved in the future of energy and works as an advisor in guiding markets and organisations towards efficient decarbonisation.  Steve is also a Trustee of Mana Tahuna, a social and conservation enterprise as well as co-founder of executive education and documentary company Whiteboard Energy.  His passion is in ensuring community groups are working effectively and practically to achieve outcomes that would not otherwise occur.

Jo Booker
Soho Property Ltd

Jo has grown up in the mountains, and has witnessed the transformation of the four properties which make up the Mahu Whenua Covenants from traditionally farmed sheep stations to high country properties being restored to their natural condition.  Jo has a passion for conservation and when she’s not working can often be found in the hills beyond Arrowtown, removing wilding pines or clearing tracks. She is part of the management team of Soho Property Ltd. 

Geoff Hughes
Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust

Geoff Hughes was formerly a hospital doctor, taking early retirement four years ago. He has considerable experience in organisational management and governance in the health sector. At the time of retirement Geoff was an executive clinical director with budget responsibilities for $200 million and 1000 staff across two hospitals in Australia, having been a clinical director in NZ before that. On retirement Geoff changed direction and focussed on making a contribution to conservation and was appointed as a part time executive officer to the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust in 2016.

Paul Hellebrekers
Matukituki Catchment Animal Pest Control Project

Paul Hellebrekers retired from DOC in 2013, after 31 years of service; his last role was Area Manager at Wānaka. Most of Paul’s time with DOC was spent working within the Upper Clutha region with a particular focus on Mt Aspiring National Park. Since then, Paul has been involved in a number of Wānaka conservation projects. For the last eight years, Paul has been a Negotiator for the Nature Heritage Fund . He is presently the Operations Manager for the Matukituki Charitable Trust.

Daniel Sweeney
Whakatipu Wildlife Trust

Daniel arrived in Queenstown in 2010 from Scotland and has since settled here with a new family. Working as a graphic designer for various clients within the sustainability and environment space has drawn him closer to New Zealand’s native wildlife. Daniel has been a member of the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust and assisting local trapping groups for several years.

Mo Turnbull
Central Otago Lakes Branch of NZ Forest & Bird Protection Society 

Mo grew up on a high country Otago farm, spending holidays at Makarora where he first developed a love for the outdoors. That led him to a 40 year career as a field geologist for GNS Science, which took him all over the southern half of the South Island, the Subantarctic and Antartica, specialising in geological mapping of remote places.

Since 1993 Mo has been involved in numerous conservation projects, starting with a covenant over a forest remnant on the Otago Peninsula, where he was a Trustee on the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group for several years.  Since moving to Lake Hāwea in 2013 he’s been volunteering at Te Kakano and the Matukituki, and deeply involved with predator trapping at Makarora as a member of the Central Otago Lakes Branch of Forest & Bird.

Kris Vollebregt
Wānaka Backyard Trapping

Kris Vollebregt worked as an exploration geologist in Australia and Indonesia for 8 years, before settling in NZ to raise a family. She “retired” from geology and became heavily involved in working and volunteering on conservation projects.  She currently resides in Wānaka, working as Nursery Manager at the Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust community native plant nursery. One of her conservation efforts was establishing the Wānaka Backyard Trapping group in 2018.