The Wingspan Team

Our Patronage

About Us / Our Patronage

  • Dr Ruud Kleinpaste MNZM, Patron

    Ruud Kleinpaste

    A man of many words, environmentalist / radio host Ruud Kleinpaste needs no introduction to New Zealanders. Ruud not only provides us with an environmentally friendly wakeup call every Sunday morning, but he is also a tireless promoter of the Wingspan cause.

    Patron since 2009, Ruud’s passion for all things wild, creepy crawly, taloned, winged, bushy and leafy is an inspiration to all of us here at Wingspan. Ruud thinks BIG PICTURE and we like that. Supporting our birds of prey is not just about the birds; it’s about supporting a healthy Aotearoa… eh Ruud!?

    Ruud was awarded the 2018 Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to entomology, conservation and entertainment.

  • Debbie Stewart MNZM, Founder

    Debbie Stewart Wingspan Bird of Prey Founder

    Debbie has had a lifelong love affair with wildlife that has spanned decades. Since 1977, Debbie has been captivated by the beauty and wonder of the natural world, dedicating her career to its preservation, protection, and advocacy. Debbie's journey into wildlife conservation began with a pioneering spirit, as she delved into the captive management and breeding of native fish (inanga, kōkopu, tuna, and the toitoi bullies), reptiles (including geckos, skinks, and tuatara), and native birds (including kiwi, kea, kākāriki, and kererū).
    But, by 1982, a ‘spark’ for raptors had developed that led to an enduring passion for these spectacular birds and the founding of Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust in 1989, with formal registration as a charitable trust in 1992. Serving as the Executive Director of Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust until 2024, Debbie has been at the forefront of efforts to rehabilitate and raise awareness about New Zealand's native birds of prey.

    In recognition of her dedication and contributions to avian conservation, Debbie was honoured as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours list. This accolade stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to birds of prey and the broader conservation movement.