Our Trustees

Bill English

“Predator Free NZ is a brilliant generational challenge to restore our environment. I support the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust because this community effort makes the vision possible in this beautiful landscape, and it’s our bit of the national mission.”
WWT Patron, Sir Bill English


2020 Trustees

  • David Penrose (Chairman) – Lake Hayes Predator Free
  • Tom Pryde – Paradise Trust
  • Penny Clarke – QLDC Councillor Representative
  • Ben Perchik – Forest and Bird, Fernhill Alpine Birdsong
  • Phil Green – Conservation Officer, Queenstown Climbing Club
  • Warren Skerrett – Ngāi Tahu Representative
  • Pippa Speedy – Bob’s Cove Community Trapping Group
  • Daniel Sweeney – Lake Hayes
  • Nicky Gray – Eco Schools

Executive Officer – Leslie Van Gelder


David Penrose (Chairman), Lake Hayes Predator Free

David Penrose

David is a senior associate of New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty and a member of the REINZ.

Having established numerous relationships with clients through property over many years David is highly recognised within the greater Queenstown community. He is well respected and understands the need throughout the Southern Lakes to protect our natural habitat, and native bird species.

This has been enhanced recently through the efforts of David to establish a group of local residents to make Lake Hayes Predator Free.

He and his family reside at Lake Hayes, and enjoy the outdoor capital of New Zealand particularly given skiing, fishing, tramping, and hunting are all on our door step.    

David knows what it takes to put the building blocks in place and is committed to passing on the baton to make a difference particularly as we face the challenge and benefits of making New Zealand Predator Free by 2050.


Tom Pryde, Paradise Trust

Tom Pryde

Tom is a lawyer originally from Invercargill who has holidayed and lived part time in the Wakatipu area since childhood, and has lived here fulltime for the last 20 years.

He has had and retains a long and close involvement with numerous community and outdoor sporting and recreational organisations, and thus has always had a keen personal interest in the state of New Zealand’s natural environment including the tragedy of our rapidly declining native bird population.

Tom formed the Paradise Trust based at Paradise, Glenorchy in 1998, and he remains its Chairman to this day. The Paradise Trust is involved in extensive predator trapping on its 350 acre property and is thrilled to be associated in these endeavors with other community anti-predator groups working together under the umbrella of the Wakatipu Wildlife Trust.


Penny Clarke, Queenstown Lakes District Councillor

Penny Clarke

Penny is an energetic, enthusiastic Queenstowner who cares about the future of the Lakes District and managing the inevitable growth our pristine environment encourages in today’s world. Penny is an ex-hotelier of over 35 years, managing properties in Australia and New Zealand and more recently Goldridge Resort in Queenstown.

Penny’s enthusiasm for tramping and kayaking in the district keeps her fully engaged in this wonderful environment; living in Hallenstein Street, keeps her abreast of the towns challenging transport and parking issues! Her knowledge of the tourism industry and ten years residency in Queenstown gives her a solid grounding to support the plans for the district.


Ben Perchik, Forest and Bird

Ben Perchik

Ben is originally from the USA (Virginia) and has now been living in Fernhill, Queenstown with his wife, Sue for the last 10 years.  Ben’s career was in the sciences (experimental psychology) and spent most of his early life as an operations research analyst working for the US Gov’t.  Later in his career and after retirement, his focus turned towards nature and more earthly connections. Ben currently serves on the Board of the Central Otago – Lakes Branch Forest & Bird.

Back in the States Ben was a member of the National Wildlife Federation serving as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat Steward and also as a Climate Change Ambassador.  He also served on the Ecological Advisory Committee for his local community.  Ben has done landscaping as a hobby and for many of the organizations that he belonged to.  His efforts were to re-establish habitats for the native flora and fauna, thus helping to create wildlife corridors for Native plants and animals.

Ben’s goals for the group are to preserve and re-establish native habitat; countering the impacts of human encroachment.


Philip Green – Conservation Officer, Queenstown Climbing Club

Philip Green

Phil heralds from the far north and after completing a Physics degree at Auckland University travelled extensively overseas, finally ending up in Scotland where he developed a passion for climbing, the environment and the outdoors.

Since returning to New Zealand, Phil and his partner settled in Queenstown, started their own tourism business and became active in the local climbing community.  In 2013 the Queenstown Climbing Club and DOC put the first predator trap line in Wye Creek and with Phil’s subsequent role as QCC Conservation Officer, he helped plan, manage and develop the Wye Creek project installing new trap lines, monitoring lines and bird count stations. He is now helping set up a similar trapping strategy for Queenstown Hill.

Phil is delighted to be involved in the Wakatipu Wildlife Trust – helping other trapping groups, sharing his knowledge, his love for the environment and representing the Queenstown Climbing Club’s mandate to promote climbing in the Wakatipu and protecting our environment for future generations of climbers.


Warren Skerrett

Warren Skerrett

Ko Warren Skerrett toku Ingoa
Ka tangi te titi
Ka tangi te kākā
Ka tangi hoki ahau
Tihewa mauriora

Warren is an enthusiastic supporter of protecting wildlife. Originally from a Bluff fishing family, He has touched the Natural wonders of all of Fiordland’s sounds, the southern coast , Solander rock and to all of Stewart Island. He has experienced the deadly effects of a rat Invasion on the Mutton bird Islands off southern Southern Stewart Island, and then, the dramatic return of Wildlife, after an extensive aerial rat eradication program.

We are in a generation where mind sets are changing and the WWT is the crux of that change.


Pippa Speedy – Registered Nurse

Pippa Speedy

Pippa grew up on a farm in the north island where the great outdoors and conservation here apart of her upbringing.  After spending many years in Australia she returned to NZ to settle in Queenstown and resides in Bobs Cove with her family.  Like most Queenstown residents she enjoys the great outdoors- tramping, skiing, fishing, camping with the family or just plodding away in her garden.  

She is passionate about conserving New Zealand’s native flora and fauna and community involvement, aiming towards a predator free NZ 2050 target in the Wakatipu.


Daniel Sweeney, Lake Hayes Predator Free

Daniel Sweeney

A wandering Scotsman, Daniel arrived in Queenstown in 2010 and is happy to now call this place home. Daniel runs a local design agency, Total Brand Ltd, providing web, design and marketing services to a wide range of clients in New Zealand and beyond.

Daniel has always had a keen interest in nature and the environment and offers his skills where possible to assist a variety of environmental not-for-profits, including the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust, Protect Our Winters NZ and Sustainable Queenstown.


Nicky Gray, Enviroschools

Nicky Gray

Nicky has lived in Queenstown with her family for the past 15 years. Originally from the North Island she has always had a passion for the environment. She was a teacher in Queenstown and is now the Enviroschools Facilitator for the Wakatipu area. She works in all the schools in the Wakatipu Basin to support learning about the natural environment and sustainability.

Nicky enjoys the outdoors especially when gardening, walking or skiing. She loves working with children and is inspired by their energy and passion for the environment. She hopes that through taking action together we can increase our fauna and birdlife in the Wakatipu for the future generations.


Leslie Van Gelder, Executive Officer

Leslie Van Gelder

Originally from the States, Leslie has been living in Glenorchy since 2008. She has been working in conservation since she was young working originally in Eastern Canada teaching environmental education in outport communities and doing seabird conservation work on a puffin colony.

Outside of her work with the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust she is a professor of global and indigenous education at Walden University supervising Ph.D. students, and an archaeologist studying Upper Paleolithic cave art. Her work on finger flutings has featured in a TEDx talk, two documentaries, and the 2019 Massey Lectures in Canada as well as both academic and popular press. Closer to home, she is Glenorchy librarian, and she chairs the Glenorchy Heritage and Museum Group where she is actively involved in preserving the rich history at the Head of the Lake.