WCG are grateful for our highly-skilled, experienced team with their diverse backgrounds, including the passionate volunteer WCG Executive, who all work tirelessly together toward our aims.

Grant Hensman

Grant Hensman, WCG Chairperson

Queenstown born and raised, Grant Hensman has a long-standing connection to the Whakatipu wilding conifer control cause. Grant is the son of Skyline Enterprises founder Hylton Hensman and has spent much of his life involved with Skyline Queenstown operations – while witnessing the dramatic change to the landscape caused by wilding conifers over the years. Starting out washing dishes in Skyline’s restaurant as a youngster, Grant has previously managed gondola maintenance before leading the company’s national and international luge project development. He has been a director of the board since 1994. Aside from witnessing the threat to native flora on Bob’s Peak, Grant has watched the scenery get “smothered” by wilding pines in Skippers Canyon, where he owns a holiday bach. As Chairman of WCG, Grant is passionate about educating people on the threat wilding conifers pose to the environment. While acknowledging that it can be a controversial topic, Grant wants to focus on increased lobbying to central government – to highlight this as a national issue, not just a local problem.

Peter Willsman

Peter Willsman, Executive Member

Founding Chairman of the Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group, Peter was originally from the UK. Arriving in New Zealand as a 15 year old he gained a Diploma in Farming. His early career involved sheep and beef farming. His academic years involved study at Laidlaw College, gaining a degree at Otago University and then Knox College. Non study opportunities included time to ski, tramp and climb peaks such as Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook. With 31 years in a challenging parish ministry in Mataura and East Taieri, Peter and Beryl also built their own house at Kelvin Heights where they eventually retired.

Dick Hubbard

Dick Hubbard, Executive Member

Dick joined the WCG in July, 2015 and now looks after communications and PR for the WCG. He is Chairman – Hubbard Foods Ltd and has been known to make a few breakfast cereals! He now lives (very happily) in Queenstown. Dick says “I am very keen on environmental matters and the Wilding Pine problem personally is a very interesting (and important) one. What I like about it is the fact that it is a problem that can definitely be beaten with the right expertise and money. However we are very close to the “Tipping Point” and therefore if a concerted effort is not made now the whole battle could be lost and lost forever within 10 years. I am very interested in the outdoors and have been a keen tramper and mountain climber. However these days the biggest mountain I climb is Queenstown Hill!”

Tom McPhail

Tom McPhail, Executive Member

Tom is a member of the WCG Executive group. After a life of farming in Southland he retired to Frankton in 2012. In the wilding control efforts and Tom was asked last year to come on to the executive to help with establishing the Adopt-a-Plot program. He has holidayed at Frankton since the mid 1950’s and love the lake and mountain scenery. Tom enjoys the outdoors skiing, boating, 4WD’ing, tramping and cutting down wildings!

Graeme Watson

Graeme Watson, Executive Member

Graeme is involved with farming, fly fishing guiding tourism and is a Trustee of the Waiau Fisheries & Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Trust. He is a former Chairman of Southland Fish & Game and was a representative of the QEII National Trust for 8 years. Graeme first walked the Ben Lomond track in 1963. He shares an “Adopt a Plot” on Ben Lomond with family and friends. Graeme is committed to helping volunteers and stakeholders focus on our mountain views, rivers, ski fields and walking tracks to ensure native biodiversity isn’t lost due to the rapid spread of wilding trees.

Grant McMaster

Grant McMaster, Executive Member

Grant is the General Manager, Closeburn Station and has held this position for the past 11 years. His academic qualifications gained include a NZ Trade Certificate Farm Management and Advanced National Certificate in Agriculture, specialising in farm and grassland management – Berkshire College, England. His interests range from dog trials, rugby, travelling, and horse racing.

Vanessa Van Uden

Vanessa Van Uden

Vanessa has had a long connection with WCG from its inception through various roles in the community and has welcomed the opportunity to join the Executive Group and be part of protecting our breathtaking landscapes for future generations. She is involved in many community organisations including Baby Box, Branches Camp, Remarkables Cancer Gym and Pivotal Point Charitable Trust.

Vanessa has a BCom in Management and an MBA. She completed one term as a Councillor and two terms as Mayor of the QLDC – standing down from that role in 2016. In 2017 she was awarded an ONZM for her services to Local Government. She is a Director of her own company providing business services throughout Central Otago.

Sue Rose

Sue Rose, WCG Funding Manager

Sue is the WCG Funding Manager and makes initial contact with local landowners. She has been in the Whakatipu for nearly 25 years bringing up her family here and joined the WCG team in 2019 as a contractor, working closely with the DOC operations team, WCG stakeholders and the WCG Executive team. Sue’s background is in Event Management, Tourism, Media and Sales with a BA in Politics and English and Grad Dip in Business Studies. Sue’s interests include anything outdoors, tramping, camping, mountain biking, skiing, hiking and picnicking in any scenic Southern Lakes area with friends and family. Her interests have given her a passion for saving our native Tussocklands and Beech forests by eradicating and containing the spread of NZ’s number one pest plant, wilding pines. Contact: srose@whakatipuwilding.co.nz

Podraic Prendergast

Padraic Prendergast, WCG Volunteer Co-ordinator

Padraic is the Volunteer Coordinator for WCG engaged to grow the volunteer base and organise wilding control work through volunteer days and the Adopt-a-Plot programme, where volunteers clear and maintain an allocated area either side of the Ben Lomond Track. Previously working as a ranger for DOC, he has lived in the Whakatipu since 2016 and developed a passion for New Zealand’s unique and wonderful ecology, studying environmental management with Massey University. Originally from Ireland, he is a keen outdoors man, he can usually be found out running or tramping one of Queenstown’s fantastic tracks. Contact: volunteer@whakatipuwilding.co.nz

Will McBeth

Will McBeth, WCG/DOC Wilding Control Project Manager

Will is the DOC Senior Ranger for Wilding Conifer Control and the WCG Project Manager. With a New Zealand Certificate in Tree Felling and Clearing (Non-Production) and a 20 year career in conservation, Will brings to the team a broad skill set of helicopter logistics, field experience, GIS mapping and contractor management. He is also a member of the Glenorchy Volunteer Rural Fire brigade, with firefighting experience that includes international deployments to Canada and Australia. Originally from the Kapiti coast but is now based in Glenorchy with his wife and 5 children, Will’s spare time is devoted to family time, hunting and fire brigade.

Alice Behan

Alice Behan, WCG/DOC Project Administrator

Alice is the Project Administrator for WCG and assists with the project management of the wilding conifer programme. She has lived in Queenstown since 2008 and loves spending time in the outdoors hiking, skiing, running, mountain biking and rafting. Alice was drawn to the role to help protect the landscapes she spends time in with her family. She has a background in finance, office management and administration.

David Butt

David Butt, DOC Whakatipu Operations Manager

David is the Operations Manager for Whakatipu, Pou Matarautaki Whakatipu-wai-Māori and has oversight of all the Department’s operations delivery in the Whakatipu basin. David joined the Department of Conservation in 2021 having previously worked in disaster management for Resilience NSW in Australia, through the black summer bushfires and many other natural disasters that occurred during his time there. Prior to this, he worked in Surf Lifesaving, having held various roles in both New Zealand and Australia in management and has also recently completed his MBA. Having grown up near Muriwai Beach in Auckland, he has a keen interest in preserving the natural values at place and made the decision to return to New Zealand in 2021 and settle in Queenstown. He enjoys any sort of outdoor activity, including surfing, cycling, and tramping.

Briana Pringle

Briana Pringle, WCG Advisor / QLDC

Briana is Parks and Open Spaces Planning Manager at Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC). Bachelor of Forestry Science (BForSc) from Canterbury University. Briana represents QLDC as a stakeholder in WCG and is a WCG advisor. Briana was the original Manager of WCG for over ten years and brings a wealth of experience, expertise and passion to the Whakatipu wilding control scene. Based in Queenstown since 2007, she previously worked for Forestry Companies in Central North Island, before heading back to the mainland!

Yvette Ridley

Yvette Ridley, WCG / QLDC Parks Team

Yvette is Parks Community and Volunteers Officer at Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC). Yvette represents QLDC as a stakeholder in WCG and is the Secretary and Treasurer for WCG. Yvette first cleared wilding pines in the early 2000s in Central Otago when running a residential Conservation Corps with ‘at-risk’ youth. Yvette previously worked as a Social Worker and Secondary School teacher before moving to Whakatipu in 2018. She worked for DOC Whakatipu before taking up her current role at QLDC. She enjoys cooking, biking, drawing, and anything in the outdoors.

Gavin Udy, ORC

Gavin is the Project Delivery Specialist for the Environmental Implementation Team at Otago Regional Council (ORC) and represents the Otago Region on the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme. Gavin joined the Otago Regional Council after 7 years working in animal and plant pest control as a contractor, and 20 years prior to this in the Department of Conservation as a Programme Manager involved in threatened species recovery and pest management. Gavin studied a BSc. in Conservation and Ecology at Lincoln University and has a keen interest in the conservation of our natural heritage and enjoys spending his spare time in the great outdoors.

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