About Us / Our Trustees
Jonathan Rudge, Chairman
One time sewage treatment expert, lab technician, curator, archaeologist, planner and a Director of Plantlife International - one sometimes wonders what job Jonathan has not turned his hand to at some time in his career.
Likewise, having contributed to and directed biodiversity conservation projects across Europe, Russia, and Africa, one would be forgiven for wondering where hadn’t he had a positive input into the management of our natural world.
Finally returning home to his native Aotearoa, Jonathan is now working in primary sector policy for OSPRI New Zealand Limited in Wellington. Jonathan brings a level of planning experience that will ensure that Wingspan reaches its goals, no matter how high they are set. He’s also not bad at cricket.
Noel Hyde MNZM, Trustee
A falconer since he could pick up a lure to swing it, Noel is to New Zealand falconry what Winston Peters is to Grey Power. Chair of Wingspan from 2008 - 2014 and trustee before that, Noel has been a champion of Wingspan since it all began. After 25 years of working for Te Papa, Noel is one of New Zealand’s most talented and well respected wildlife taxidermists.
Now living in Rotorua and living the falconers’ dream of flying a bird every day, Noel is a true blue kiwi who lives for Wingspan and for the birds it tirelessly protects.
Our guiding light, he’s not scared of mucking in and is leading the trust forward into an exciting future.
Noel has been awarded the 2018 Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to wildlife conservation and research taxidermy.↑
Chris Gay, Trustee
Chris Gay, breeder of native fish, avid grower of New Zealand’s native plants, Native of Wainuiomata is our resident green-fingered naturalist and our longest standing trustee.↑
A landscape gardener with his eyes on the sky, Chris was the first to describe the dispersal patterns of fledgling bush falcons. An avid fisherman of note; if you can’t find Chris, he’s out casting a woolly bugger into Lake Rotoiti trying to hook that elusive double figure rainbow – one day Chris – one day!
Dr Richard Seaton, Trustee
Self-professed bird geek/raptor-nut, Rich has been smitten with birds of prey since he saw a Peregrine falcon knock a pigeon out of the sky in Wales aged eight. A seventies child, he grew up in England determined to stop the clearance of the Amazon rainforest and save the Californian condor. He ended up in the wrong rainforest, working on the wrong species, on the wrong side of the world. Rumour has it that it’s all down to some kiwi chick he met.
Rich continues to work as a conservation biologist over the ditch, spending most of his time marvelling at Australia’s magnificent birds of prey. But with regular trips back to his ‘second home’ of Rotorua, coupled with the wonders of the internet, he is helping guide the trust into the future and lending a hand where he can.
Note: improvised raptor head protection; an essential requirement while out in the field!↑
Meishi Sonobe, Trustee
Our international man of mystery, Meishi brings to the Wingspan Board a huge wealth of business experience. Splitting his time between New Zealand and Japan he is currently Chairman of Global Trade and Management Services (GTMS), Director of Automotive Technologies Ltd and presides over a number of leading educational institutions.↑
Ex-Chair of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Japan Beachhead Advisory Board and Ex-President of a number of large global enterprises his impressive CV includes an MBA from Harvard University gained before many of our staff were even a twinkle in their parents eye. A keen golfer, we welcome Meishi to our Board knowing full well that ‘birdies’ and ‘eagles’ are high on his agenda.
June Northcroft Grant MNZM, Trustee
June has many feathers in her cap, sometimes feathers in her hair, and without question is Wingspan’s ‘model’ Trustee. Indeed, she is renowned as a model in her hometown of Rotorua, from postcards to television, as well as her successful career as an internationally recognised contemporary artist, gallery owner, a writer, a visionary, and award winning businesswoman.↑
She is a member of Aroha Mai Cancer Support Network, a Trustee of the Rotorua Breast Cancer Trust, and part of the Visual Art Committee of Toi Māori Aotearoa. The Black Pearl Award recognised her achievement in arts and culture, and in 2010 Queens Birthday Honours list, June was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit, recognising her services to Māori art and culture. June says she is inspired by her ancestors and their art, and she continues the tradition for the future generations of her family. Her work is often interwoven with powerful figures and stories from her tribal histories. It is June who is now inspiring us!