catherine taranakiEMR is based in eight regions throughout New Zealand below are coordinator profiles and contact emails addresses:



samara nicholasSamara Nicholas - Northland or
Kia ora, my name is Samara Nicholas, during my time as head prefect at Kamo High School in 1998, our year 13 geography class was involved in the application for a Marine Reserve in the Whangarei Harbour, the marine biodiversity around Motukaroro inspired me! After completing a Diploma in Environmental Management I went on to establish the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme in 2001. I am an original trustee of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust. As programme director for the trust and national coordinator, I have the responsibility for the overall management of the EMR programme; liaison with the national team of coordinators, funders & partners; milestone and financial reporting; and of course getting out there and doing EMR delivery! I was extremely privileged to be recognised in 2005 in the Sir Peter Blake Leadership awards as one of New Zealand 's Emerging Leaders. In 2005 I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. I am a PADI Divemaster and registered assessor for unit standards in snorkelling. I am an experienced and regular public speaker. My favourite marine creature is the nudibranch. Between EMR and being a proud mum Blaze) and wife to Shane, there is not a lot of time for much else, but I am a active member of the Whananaki community, I love to snorkel, dive, surf, ride horses or garden in my spare time!

My career highlight was heading to the Kermadec Islands as crew member on board Young Blake Expeditions. During October 2014, Samara was the MC at the New Zealand Dolphin Underwater Club 60th anniversary and was awarded the New Zealand Underwater Leo Ducker Award for Meritorius recognition and contribution to diving.



lorna heffordLorna (Hefford) Doogan - Auckland


Hi there! My name is Lorna (Hefford) Doogan and I am the Auckland Coordinator for EMR. I have been involved with EMR since 2013 and love spending my time as a hands on marine educator.

I have a passion for the ocean having spent all my summers as a child in the beautiful Opito Bay, Coromandel. I was a surf lifeguard at United North Piha for 5 years earning my Bronze Medallion. Scuba diving has always been a large part of my life. I completed my Open Water Course when I was 13 and slowly worked my way up to Divemaster over the following years. While I was studying for my BSc in Biological Sciences and Marine Science at the University of Auckland, I was lucky enough to become involved in the Auckland University Underwater Club. I became the president of the club in 2013 and during this time I received my Master of a Small Commercial Dive Vessel as well as developing essential organisational skills for my role as an EMR Coordinator. My favourite animal would have to be the sunfish because of their gloriously uncoordinated swimming.


liz Liz Gibson - EMR Wellington

Kia ora my name is Liz, 2013 was my first year as an EMR coordinator based in Wellington with IBMEC.I am completing my Masters in Marine Conservation and a BSC in Zoology. My favourite marine creature is the giant squid and my other passion is music








amber Amber Boyd - EMR Hauraki
 Hi my name is Amber Boyd, I am born and bred on the Coromandel Peninsula. I am currently based in Whitianga with my husband and 3 daughters. I have a love for the ocean which came from father who was a commercial cray fisherman,
I spent many hours with him on his boat, including my first Christmas as an 8 month old.
I feel privileged to be part of the EMR team. My favorite part is getting children in the Marine Reserve and hearing the squeals of delight when they see big fish close. Also watching children overcome their anxiety and have an experience that they will never forget.
My favorite marine creature is the eagle ray, watching them underwater they are so graceful and calm.


 profile pic   Jordan MacDonald  - EMR Northland

Kia ora , ko Jordie MacDonald toku ingoa. I joined the EMR team in 2016. I grew up in the Marlborough Sounds and studied a Bachelor of Biological Sciences majoring in Marine Biology at Victoria university of Wellington. Since then I have been involved in a few exciting projects such as the Humpback whale survey in the Cook Straight, volunteering for EMR and conservation work with the Auckland Council as a park ranger. I have an NZQA snorkel instructor qualification and my open water PADI scuba ticket. My favourite marine creature currently is the short tailed stingray, so graceful!

 Joe PalmerJoe Palmer - Gisborne
Kia ora, my name is Joe Palmer, I have been an EMR coordinator since 2008 in the Gisborne region. The Gisborne regional umbrella company is Nga Mahi te Taiao, operated by my father Murray Palmer. I am an NZQA Snorkel Instructor. My favourite marine creature is Paua. I enjoy diving, big wave surfing, fishing and water sports. I am a proud dad to 2 children.

PS this is actually Joe in this picture!

   Sarah NeighboursSarah Neighbours - Wellington
Hi my name is Sarah. I am very excited to be starting my first season as an EMR coordinator (summer 2014/2015) with the Wellington Island Bay Marine Education Centre. I have been involved as a helper for the past couple of seasons. I have had a passion for the ocean from a young age and decided to become a Marine Biologist when I was 8 years old. I have a Masters in Marine Conservation and love being able to pass on my knowledge and enthusiasm to students, teachers, parents and the general public. I am a certified diver and a snorkel instructor. In my spare time I enjoy being outdoors, especially being involved in marine activities. My favourite marine creatures are nudibranchs and leather jackets

zoe studdZoe Studd - Wellington
Kia ora my name is Zoe and I have been involved with EMR for the last 5 years. Ex-dive instructor (Kaikoura and Samoa), gained my marine and coastal science degree from Australia, then worked in environmental policy for several years in NZ and the US. I became involved in EMR whilst retraining as a teacher and coordinated in Wellington for a couple of years before going full time in the classroom. Missed it too much, so I am back on board again for 2014. Favourite creature of the moment- Hermit Crab.


julian hodgeJulian Hodge - Wellington
 Hi my name is Jules and I am lucky enough to be the regional coordinator for the EMR programme in Wellington run by Island Bay Marine Education Centre. I grew up in the sea and spent my childhood exploring rock pools around the Wellington coast. I am a keen fisherman and understand the need for wide stewardship of the resource and look forward to passing on knowledge to next generation of New Zealanders. I am a trained teacher and snorkel instructor, my fav marine creature is the octopus and in my spare time I love exploring the coastline with my dog ‘Jazz’ (who also loves swimming in the ocean).


Aandrew penniketndrew Penniket - EMR Otago  - Ambassador  Andrew is a marine biologist and free-lance film-maker. andrew is leading the pilot study and development of EMR in the Otago region.

  pat swansonPat Swanson - EMR Taranaki - Ambassador
Hi there – My name is Pat Swanson and I am the lead regional EMR coordinator for Taranaki. We are very lucky here to have the help of the Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society as our umbrella organization, and also we have the dedicated help of Mike Tapp, our local educator from the Department of Conservation. I helped establish EMR in Taranaki in 2011, initially with my class of Year 5 and 6 students at St Pius X School in New Plymouth. I am Deputy Principal at the school, but I have also taught in the Coromandel and Wellington, and I have in my past life been a commercial diver and also a fisheries research technician. I have a Bachelor of Education, I am a PADI qualified Open water diver, and also an NZQA qualified snorkel instructor. My wife Debbie and I have three children, who are all nearly as keen on the sea as myself! When I am not doing EMR, I am still more than likely in or on the water, or else in the kitchen cooking. If I had to choose a favourite marine creature it would be the John Dory – I always find them fascinating, despite their rather depressed expression!

megan wilsonMegan Wilson - EMR Nelson - Ambassador
I have been coordinating EMR in the Nelson region since February 2010 under the auspices of the Nelson Environment Centre . I have my PADI dive certificate although have not scuba dived in recent years preferring the freedom of less gear when snorkeling. I also have NZQA Snorkel Instructor qualifications. I have a Home Science degree and am a primary trained teacher. I work three days teaching technology to year 7&8's. That is in old school terms, cooking, sewing, woodwork, electronics and ICT. For six years I also taught a Gifted and Talented programme (Future Thinkers) to year 5 to 8 students which included experiential learning and environmental education. Coordinating EMR has now taken over the G&T teaching. I have always had an interest in conservation and the marine environment and feel most connected when I am in or on the sea. I enjoy taking education onto the outdoors and seeing and hearing the delight of EMR participants as they become more confident at snorkeling and experience the marine environment close up. My goal is to continue to expand EMR in the top of the South Island to reach more children and their communities and hopefully make a positive difference for the future of NZ's marine environment. I have two grown up children who are mostly left home and have recently expanded my whanau having moved in with my partner and his 10 year old son. I am a keen waka ama paddler enjoying social and competitive paddling but mostly I value time away from the busyness of everyday life while paddling along the beautiful Abel Tasman coastline.


kim jonesKim Jones - EMR Northland/Auckland - Ambassador
Tena Koutou, my name is Kim Jones, my EMR delivery is focused around the Whangarei District since 2006. During high school I achieved my Open Water SCUBA Diving certification and surf lifesaving bronze star and medallion. I am a graduate of the Diploma in Environmental Management and Conservation at Northland Polytechnic. During this time I received the Golden Bay Cement student scholarship in recognition of my achievements, which has helped fund my education and experience working within the environmental management industry. I am a trustee of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust and lead the development & delivery of the Drains To Harbour stormwater awareness campaign and Mangrove Discovery Programme. I am the national coordinator for the Whitebait Connection programme. Last year I was elected as the chairperson for the Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve Advisory Committee. I have a National Certificate in Business Administration and Computing. I love SCUBA diving and I am a PADI divemaster. Together with my husband Blair, we have our own charter business that we operate from Whangarei Heads. I am a proud mum to son Zayne and my girl Oceana.