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Meet the team

ko tātou te awa, ko te awa tātou

Dedication. Expertise. Passion.

Rivercare Group is a largely voluntary organisation, made up of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences with one thing in common; a desire to improve the mauri of our awa Te Wai o Pareira.

Chris Ballantyne.jpg

Chairperson / Group Co-Founder / Trustee

Chris ballantyne

Chris is the Director and founder of Second Nature Gardens. Chris has more than 30 years experience in successful business leadership including a number of leadership roles in community and industry organisations. Over his career he has developed considerable knowledge of the built and natural landscape. Chris is a co- founder of RiverCare Group Te Wai o Pareira. 



Peter nelson

Peter is a retired environmental scientist. He has a B.Sc.(Hons) and Ph.D in chemistry, specialising in environmental chemistry and its applications under the Resource Management Act and the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. He has worked as a forensic scientist with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and as a principal environmental scientist for GHD Ltd.



Dion Pou

Dion is a Restoration Ecologist.  He is an environmental engagement contractor to Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research). Dion is a trustee and provides our group with advice on the natural integration of a Māori worldview and understanding, namely Te Ao Marama and Mātauranga Māori. Dion has a BSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Alan Clist.jpg

Group Coordinator

Alan clist

Alan is a retired IT Professional. Alan has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) with a career spanning telecommunications and a variety of leadership roles in IT, culminating in a Programme Manager role at Fonterra. Alan uses his experience and skills to ‘give back’ to nature, managing RiverCare’s day-to-day activities.



Kieran o'brien

Kieran has been working in the environmental space as a landscaper for over a decade and has a passion for conservation and community. Kieran brings to our team a younger persons perspective and energy, and is dedicated to our mahi.


Community Engagement

lila kuka

Lila leads Rivercare's Community Engagement and is passionate about the environment and learning to live simply in harmony with nature.  She has a background in the fashion industry but left it when she found the industry's values no longer matched her own.  Recently certified in Permaculture Design, Lila leads the Tawa Esplanade Restoration project, working with local school students and learning to weave mātauranga Maori into all her mahi.


Co-Founder and former Trustee

russell cavanagh

Russell is an avid kayaker and has spent countless hours on Te Wai o Pareira. His experience and attention to detail has made him an adept fact-based problem analyser and solver which, combined with wide community contacts, makes him an invaluable advocate for our awa and its community.


Social media and communication 

Vanessa Young

Vanessa is a lover of anything artsy, walking long distances, collecting random facts no one else cares about and spending time with her important people. She is a lifelong lover of nature and is passionate about reducing her impact on the natural world. She works hard to grow Rivercare Te Wai o Pareira’s platform so that we can increase awareness of the need to protect Te Wai o Pareira.

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