Our Story

Our Story


New Zealand boasts an incredible diversity of native freshwater fish species, from our glittering gold Galaxiids to our real-life tuna (eel) taniwhas. These species are at risk of being lost forever. 74% of our freshwater fish species are classified as threatened and we aim to get waterways working in a way that gives these spectacular species and the communities in which they live a chance to not only survive, but thrive. 

We essentially want to achieve 2 aims:

1)  To raise the profile of endangered Galaxiids and native fish among the public. Or what we like to call spreading 'Galaxiid Love'

2)  To achieve on the ground conservation gains for native fish in general, but with a focus on our most endangered Galaxiid species which are concentrated in Southland, Otago and Canterbury.

Snapshots from our history
2013 Founded in Otago
Giant Kokopu display tank at Otago Museum
'Nobodies Rivers' campaign
Restoration and education projects carried out in places such as Kakanui, Lawrence and Waihola
2014 Projects expansion in Canterbury and movement of trust base to Christchurch
2015 Supported a South Otago farm to win an award at the Otago Balance Farm Environment Awards
2016 Aoraki Conservation Board  award for our project with St Andrews School
2017 NZ Post Native Freshwater Fish stamp series
Campaign for a review of whitebait fisheries regulations and management
2018 On-going projects in places such as Tūhaitara Coastal Park, Oxford, and Urban Christchurch


Who are we?

Jenny Bond

Freshwater Project Coordinator

Jenny’s 20-year long involvement in all things environmental has seen her sort waste, walk 100s of kilometres of rural and urban streams, facilitate 100s of hours of community meetings and educate 100s of contractors on environmental risks and controls. She is passionate about finding the best ways to share scientific knowledge with everyone, so they can understand it, and then hopefully go on to make positive choices for the environment. 

Jenny has a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology from Victoria University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Management from Lincoln University. When her study and then job led her to work with the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust Jenny had her “wow” moment about the importance of healthy waterways.  To work and be alongside passionate community members and scientists showed her the importance of caring for all water from the source to the sea. She spent 9 years working for regional council, where she initiated Environment Canterbury’s Improving Urban Waterway Health programme, worked with many rural Canterbury Living Streams groups, local Rūnanga and the Akaroa Harbour Issues Working Party. She also spent two years as the environmental lead for a civil construction company during the post-earthquake three waters repair. Jenny is highly motivated to facilitate behaviour change that will make our world a better place for our mokopuna. coordinator@workingwaters.org

Bridget White

Freshwater Project Coordinator

Bridget grew up wandering around the hills of Canterbury, and fell in love with outdoors. She started to grow worried about the state of them when she was in a high school conservation group, and began advocating for climate change action when she was 15 years old. 

She has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Canterbury where she majored in biology, with an emphasis on ecology. She found her calling in freshwater ecology where she is pursuing postgraduate work in the streams of the Canterbury high country. Bridget wants to share her love of the outdoors and their inner workings with as many people as possible, and wants to ignite this passion in others.


Sophie Allen

Trustee and Projects Manager

Soph grew up splashing around in streams in Marlborough and Nelson, excited by glimpses of freshwater koura, scared of giant longfin tuna biting her toes, and making multiple mud pies.

After undergraduate studies at the University of Otago, Sophie headed off to the land of lakes, beautiful Sweden, where she completed her Masters at the University of Uppsala studying human pathogens in algal blooms in streams and in the Baltic Sea. Sophie has worked for Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu as a Senior Environmental Advisor, working on the restoration of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) and mahinga kai monitoring, Ministry of Primary Industries as an advisor for pest management, and for an urban stream restoration (Project Twin Streams) in Auckland - among many other roles, such a making wine in Italy and working at an outdoor school in the fjords of Norway. Her specialty is in the area of advising and enabling communities for the management, restoration and conservation of freshwater resources. Sophie works for the Waimakariri District Council as a Water Environment Advisor, with a voluntary management role for Working Waters Trust.


Matt Wylie


Matt (Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha, Kāi Tahu) developed a love for the environment at a young age while growing up on a sheep and beef farm in Southland. His father was always occupied with safeguarding wetland areas, fencing off waterways and planting trees to encourage wildlife on their property - which left a real imprint on him. During this time he began to appreciate the importance of freshwater as a natural resource and the need for it to be conserved for future generations. He is now involved in various environmental activities with Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki and enjoys learning from his whanau.   


Matt has a Masters in Science where he studied the reproductive biology of giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) (the largest Galaxiid species) and developed whitebait aquaculture techniques for this species. He also has a PhD where he studied the reproductive biology and aquaculture of hāpuku (Polyprion oxygeneios) (also known as groper or wreckfish) – a project that was conducted in collaboration with the University of Otago and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Most recently Matt has joined the Seafood Production team as a Scientist at the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research. Matthew.Wylie@plantandfood.co.nz

Lan Pham

Founder and Trustee

Lan was absolutely gobsmacked learning about native fish during her BSc in Ecology from Massey University where she first became concerned about how little information  and education was out there about these incredible species. Since then, Lan has worked with galaxiids and the local communities surrounding them over the last decade across Southland, Otago and Canterbury. She has a Masters in Freshwater Ecology and a Certificate of Proficiency in Law from the University of Otago looking into the benefits of removing trout from native fish habitat in ZEALANDIA (Wellington) and the inadequacies of legal protection for native freshwater fish in New Zealand. Lan is passionate about communicating the wonders of New Zealand native fish to local communities and working towards practical conservation solutions. She was elected to Environment Canterbury Council in 2016 where she focuses her efforts on prioritising the health of both people and our environment.


Nicki Atkinson


Nicki completed a masters degree in Freshwater Ecology in 2008 at Massey University focusing on migration behaviours and patterns of native fish. It was this wonderful experience that cemented her intrigue and passion for protecting New Zealand freshwaters. She then worked for the Freshwater Fisheries Board in Ireland where she monitored waterways as part of the then recently implemented European Union directive on water quality. Nicki has carried out ecological contract work for a variety of organisations from DOC to Fish and Game and various City and Regional Councils. Seeing the increasing pressure on New Zealand's freshwaters, she decided to change tack and head back to university in 2012 for a second masters degree in Science Communication documentary film making. She has recently completed her graduate film on Lake Horowhenua, and is planning on continuing on the same path putting her scientific and film making skills to good use.

Emerson Yeoman


Emerson is a Transportation Planner, with experience in strategic planning, project development, management and facilitation. He has worked for Dunedin City Council and more recently Christchurch City Council, and has also owned and managed a small business. Emerson has previously worked for the Department of Conservation delivering community-based conservation training programmes. He is passionate about the conservation New Zealand’s natural environment and giving communities the knowledge and tools to develop locally relevant responses to conservation challenges. emersonyeoman@gmail.com

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