The Team

The Team

Thomas Mattern

Scientific Director

Richard Seed

Research & Conservation Coordinator

With 20 years of penguin research experience, Thomas is the go-to-guy for foraging research of penguins in New Zealand. He started off studying the foraging ranges of Little penguins on Motuara Island and at Oamaru using old fashioned radio telemetry, before continuing his research on Snares, Yellow-eyed, Fiordland and Erect-crested penguins; and even as far afield as Humboldt penguins in Chile. Thomas’s research is often at the forefront of wildlife tracking technology, being one of the first scientists to successfully deploy newly developed GPS dive loggers and utilise compact video loggers to gain new insights into penguin foraging behaviour. Thomas has the knack for communicating research in a very accessible way that translates into public engagement.

Thomas, along with his wife Ursula, are the NZ representatives of the Global Penguin Society

Richard has been involved with seabird conservation from a young age. He worked with a marine ecology consultancy before completing the Master of Wildlife Management degree at Otago University. Richard worked with Thomas on his research placement; using video loggers to investigate yellow-eyed penguin foraging behaviour. After graduating, he worked as a ranger with the Department of Conservation before coming on board with NZPI. Richard loves the opportunity to promote community-based conservation and is at home in the coordinator role, seeing projects through from ideas to results.

Advisory Group

Our advisory group provides guidance and expertise, helping to steer the direction of the initiative while supporting collaborative opportunities.

Philippa Agnew

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

As the resident scientist at the OBPC, Pip is a leading mind in little penguin/ kororā research and conservation management in NZ. She has long been a soundboard for community groups that are working with kororā and always finds the time to support others and share knowledge, including running the Oamaru Penguin Symposium. Pip’s experience will be invaluable as we establish a national monitoring programme and implement conservation actions around the country.

Pablo ‘Popi’ Garcia-Borboroglu

Global Penguin Society

Pablo “Popi” Garcia Borboroglu is the co-founder and President of the Global Penguin Society, an international science-based conservation coalition dedicated to the survival and protection of the world´s penguin species and is co-chair of the IUCN Penguin Specialist Group. He works on marine conservation planning and implementation and interacts with Government agencies and other institutions. In 2018, Popi was awarded the Whitley Gold Award for his work with penguins world-wide. In New Zealand, Popi was instrumental in kick-starting the Tawaki Project in 2014 and is an active researcher in the project.

Andre Chiaradia

Philip Island Nature Parks

Andre chases penguins for a living. He works on ecosystem ecology using little penguins as biological indicators of the fast-climatic changes in southeastern Australia. Collaborators play a crucial part in his job. Together, they work in an all-hands program to understand how penguins respond to natural changes. Andre worked on Antarctic affairs as an environmental officer, expedition leader and onboard marine scientist. His research produced over 80 scientific papers so far. He is on the editorial board of two open-source journals, past editor of the Australasian Seabird Group Bulletin, current steering committee member of the IUCN Penguin Specialist Group and Adjunct Associate Professor (research) at the Monash University. Keen but kook at surfing and a scientific tweeter @PengChiara.

Peter Gaze

Independent Conservationist

Peter Gaze has worked for DOC until retirement and has 30 years of practical conservation work under his belt. He held office with Birds NZ and was Recovery Group Leader for Tuatara. He was involved in many conservation projects on various scales like the Puangiangiu Island Restoration Project or the inclusion of artificial kororā burrows in development of the Wakefield Quay in Nelson. Peter was instrumental in getting key players of the New Zealand penguin realms together that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the New Zealand Penguin Initiative. Peter is based in Nelson.

Paul Sagar


Paul Sagar is a preeminent scientist working with seabirds in New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. Paul is on the panel that assess the conservation status of New Zealand birds and an active member of Birds NZ. For four decades, he has been studying Albatrosses – especially Buller’s albatross on The Snares – and has visited all our remote southern islands. He worked for the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) until his retirement but continues his active research. He has authored and co-authored more than 100 scientific publications. His expertise with all things subantarctic will be invaluable for NZPI’s future endeavours to look a New Zealand’s southern penguin species.

Phil Seddon

University of Otago

Professor Phil Seddon is Director of Otago University’s Postgraduate Wildlife Management Programme and has been involved in species restoration programmes around the world. He completed his doctorate on Yellow-eyed penguins at Otago in the lats 1980s which was followed by post-doctoral studies on African penguins. He has become the world’s leading expert on species restoration and reintroduction biology, and has added a varied portfolio of species to his huge body of work, ranging from Bali starlings, to wild camels in Mongolia and the Bald Ibis in North Africa. Phil is currently a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Conservation Translocation Specialist Group, and a Steering Group member for the IUCN/SSC Penguin Specialist Group; External member of the Black Stilt (Kaki) and Takahe Recovery Groups; Member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and member of the WCPA Task Force on Tourism; trustee of the Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand (ESGNZ).

Kerry-Jayne Wilson MNZM

West Coast Penguin Trust

Kerry-Jayne Wilson has devoted the last 45 years to researching penguins and other seabirds. She worked as a lecturer at Lincoln University for 23 years before moving to the West Coast where she is a founding trustee of the WCPT, and the Trust’s science adviser. She is New Zealand committee member of the Australian Seabird Group, was vice-president of Birds NZ, co-authored the comprehensive compendium “State of New Zealand Penguins” with Thomas. Together with Peter Gaze, she was a driving force behind the establishment of NZPI. She also holds the dubious title of being the only human being who had her nasal septum pierced by a penguin beak (tawaki).