Our People


Felicity TaylorTrustee

I have been actively involved in conservation since 2001, when I purchased 250 acres in the highlands of Minas Gerais in Brasil, bordering the National Park of Serra Cipo, known for its abundance in mineral waters and a rare biome called “rupestre”. This land has 3 different types of vegetation, Rupestre, transition and Atlantic rainforest. It is abundant in a great variety of birds and mammals, many of which were becoming extinct, but now are reproducing in their newly restored and protected environment. My property had been systematically destroyed by fire, used as a primitive farming method. The fauna too, had been terrorised by hunters and dogs for many years. I was going where no man had ever gone before in terms of conservation, and considering that there were more deaths of conservationists in Brazil in 2018 than any other country in the world, (69) I was really walking on ice. However being a positive and determined ´kiwi kid´ with an important cause at heart, I was not deterred. Over the last 18 years I have fought off bush fires, protected the animals to an extent that now days, with the expansion of the native environment the endemic fauna is returning to their original habitat. Moreover, I was able to create an awareness amongst the local people concerning the importance of preserving the land for future generations. It has been a long and arduous road, but I am thrilled to be able to leave my land for a length of time now, knowing that the flora and fauna is safe and thriving. The natural environment has now returned to its powerful self and the people around have finally come to the realisation of its upmost importance for their survival, both culturally and economically.

Thinking that I could take a long needed break from the upheaval of living in Brazil, by taking a rest from controversies and injustices, I decided to spend some time in New Zealand. However, I was clearly shown that the so-called injustices and destructive practices, were never to be too far away, and entrenched in my own country. During my 40 odd years of Brazil, I promoted New Zealand with upmost pride, firstly as a Rotary exchange student and then as part of my job. I was successful in promoting New Zealand as THE CLEANEST AND GREENIST tourism destination in the world. I started with a powerful inspiration guided by the Saatchi & Saatchi tourism 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, which was instrumental in turning the industry into the billion-dollar market it is today. The promotional videos were tearjerkers, working so effectively on the emotive senses, the finances were never ending, and the campaigns around the world shot even the Australians out of prominence. I was such a confident New Zealander highlighting my country as the finest tourism and educational destination in the world, based on its conservation, social values, and its pristine nature. This was was a marketing luxury. It made my job easy! I was so proud to be a New Zealander where everything seemed perfect…especially the environment. 100% Clean and Green!

However, last year upon coming home I was faced with a massive disappointment, I had been hoodwinked by my own government. I had been telling to the Brazilian market. New Zealand is not at all clean and green, and furthermore continues to use 1080 poison for pest control, which is so toxic it is one of the only countries in the world to do so. Roundup is used with the same frequency that we mowed our lawns in the old days, not to mention the numerous other poison methods used for pest control in this small country that obviously cannot take much more of this abuse.

As can be imagined, I was devastated with this realisation. I immediately understood the need to come back to New Zealand. I should be continuing my work in my very own backyard. Together with my experience in destination marketing, and more recently international information transfer, I can see that my communication and networking skills could be put to effective use to assist in the enormous challenge faced with communicating a more honest reality, regarding our not so Clean, Green 100% Pure New Zealand. I believe we need to find a more humane method of pest control for this amazing land, and work together to grow Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa, for the wellbeing of all living creatures, including our future generation. Our voice needs to be loud and strong, and we can only reach this by coming together in numbers. I am truly looking forward to joining with like-minded people in this precious cause.

Asha Andersen – Trustee

The natural world has captivated me since childhood. It’s given me a place to discover, to heal, rest, reflect and to admire the universe’s handiwork. Our planet is in bad shape though, due to human actions, and I believe we all have a role to play in setting things right and healing that damage. It is our right and our duty to protect the natural heritage of Aotearoa, New Zealand for future generations. This means we all need to learn how to be good caretakers kaitiaki of the earth and all her creatures.

My experience travelling the world, living in many different places and being part of many different cultures has made me very grateful to be able to call this beautiful country home. It’s exciting to be part of Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa with many wonderful people who share my passion for the natural world. We desperately need new approaches that focus on people, land and wildlife, as integral to each other, not isolated from each other. We need truly sustainable, holistic approaches – not greenwash which we so often see.

Over the years I have worked on various human rights campaigns, including at Amnesty International. One of the highlights of my time there was the signing of The Wellington Declaration by more than 70 countries to bring about a ban on cluster bombs. Survivors of cluster bombs from different countries came to Wellington to attend the international conference and to deliver Amnesty’s petition to the government. Most of these survivors had lost eyes, arms or legs to these horrible little bombs. The worst thing about these weapons was that they looked like harmless colourful toys to children, yet exploded sending out hundreds of bits of deadly shrapnel. Another human invention that has caused so much harm.

Our family is fortunate to live nestled in near the amazing Puketi Forest, one of Northland’s largest remaining Kauri forests. The mixed native forest on our land is a novel ecosystem and a sanctuary where all wildlife is respected. Most numerous are Piwakawaka, Tomtit, Grey Warbler, Ruru, Kereru, Waxeye, Hawks, Kiwi and Quail. There are also many invertebrates such as the giant Kauri Snail, Giant Weta, Stick Insects throughout the forest. Having such a place to call our ‘backyard’ is a blessing and a great responsibility. We are responsible to the wildlife that is there, to water that flows through nourishing us and to the forest that gives us our breath!

We are kaitiaki for all life and I hope that though Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa we can spark that in others as well.

Di MaxwellAdvisor
Wife, mother, grand-mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend and passionate environmentalist. These are the positions I most proudly hold, for it is these that I consider are the most important things in life.

It is the last one in the list, the environment, that has bought me to Flora and Fauna Aotearoa. If our environment is ruined then life on this planet is doomed, and we have no other planet we can high-tail it to.

My interests in the environment started back as a child, spending time with my grandfather in his garden on the farm over 60 years ago, watching him enrich the soil with cow manure, having him explain the importance of insects and the health of the soil and learning as we grew. His lessons were so compelling we thought that cow manure had special properties; if it could grow these huge cauliflowers and other veges, then it might help us (we were small kids) so my sister and I used to find fresh cow pats to stand in. It didn’t work though, we are still small, and Mum probably didn’t appreciate having smelly socks to wash.

My adult life as a beef farmer continued to inspire my interest in the environment and nature. A trip to Haast on the West Coast a number of years ago when I went walking in the ngahere and noticed a complete lack of birdlife alerted me to the damage that poisons were doing. Now in the autumn of my life I am ever more convinced that we must protect and care for our environment. I am so pleased to note that there seems to be a real push on regenerative agriculture, and that along with other great initiatives gives me the feeling that the world is starting to wake up.

My other experiences as District Councillor, Board member of the Beef Council, business owner, and publishing and journalism experience provides me with a few skills that I am happy to put towards the growth of the Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa organisation.

I have a post grad qualification in Sustainable Leadership from the University of Cumbria in the UK, with an emphasis on Sustainable Exchange (Alternative Economics) so I am planning to put forward some unique systems to assist with the uptake of environmental projects.
Finally, if we continue doing the same old thing, we cannot to expect to get anything except the same old results. The ever deteriorating condition of our environment needs a fresh approach, and we at Flora and Fauna Aotearoa want to lead it.