Our Staff



Andrew Leslie - Chief Executive

Andrew has a long history in community recreation, events and advocacy.

He was previously involved in promoting everything New Zealand has to offer as i-SITE Manager for Tourism New Zealand, and prior to that held roles with Hutt City Council and Manukau City Council.

Andrew is currently recovering from a life changing injury. Recreation, particularly in the outdoors, has taken on an even greater role in his life.



Tracey Prince-Puketapu - Aquatics Programme Manager & Team Leader

Tracey has been in the Aquatics Industry for over 20 years in various roles including lifeguard and facility manager and at Recreation Aotearoa for over 9 years.

In her role as Aquatic Programme Manager – Team Leader Tracey is endeavouring to work with the aquatic industry to provide safe and fun facilities for our communities to recreate in. Tracey understands that these facilities are a vital part of the communities they are in and play an important part in improving both physical and mental wellbeing of their customers.

In her spare time Tracey loves spending time outdoors recreating and gardening in the sunny capital of Aotearoa.





Garrett Blair - Parks, Play & Open Spaces Programme Manager

Garrett started his career at Gisborne District Council and worked in a number of different roles there before joining Fulton Hogan in 2018.

On his appointment, Garrett says "Prior to my arrival at GDC, I was unaware that the parks and open spaces industry was a thing. It was truly an eye opener to understand the mechanics around local government and the role they play. I've managed to get various levels of experience working in local government in such a short timeframe and have been exposed to some great people in the industry who I will no doubt cross paths with again. "

"With the role I am excited to get back into the industry - I have spent some time away but always felt that I would end up back in it - so to jump on board with Recreation Aotearoa is an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. There is a lot of work happening in this space, and in particular the play area, so I can't wait to get my feet under the desk and work with all of our stakeholders on the issues they face. "



Kieran McKay - Outdoors Programme Manager


Kieran has been recreating and working in New Zealand’s outdoor sector in all the major disciplines for close to 40 years. Even though he is known for his caving exploits, he also likes to explore the back country of Aotearoa. He knows from first-hand experience that the physical connection to the natural outdoor environment creates healthier and happier people. His wealth of knowledge comes from many years of working in and experiencing the great outdoors - from caving, mountaineering, instructing, to health and safety advisory. He was the 2018 Tall Totara award recipient and has been featured in the Red Bull Explorer of the Century series. 

Through his work for Recreation Aotearoa, he hopes to remove some of the barriers to recreation and inspire people to put a higher value on the natural world, outdoor recreation, and outdoor education. 




Katie Owen - Disability & Inclusion Programme Manager


Katie is passionate about enhancing opportunities for people with disabilities to be active across Aotearoa. As the Disability and Inclusion Programme Manager, Katie’s role is to develop and champion standards, guidelines, and advice to the active recreation sector to ultimately improve access to recreation places and spaces for people with disabilities.

After graduating from Otago University, Katie spent time in both Invercargill and Auckland before returning to the sunny Hawke’s Bay where she grew up after moving from England with her family. 

 In her spare time, Katie can be found at the local rural fire station in her volunteer role, sifting through recipe books and experimenting with new foodie ideas, or camping out at a beautiful Central Hawke’s Bay beach.  Katie likes playing netball and squash, going for walks with her dog Tilly, dirt-bike riding, and swimming.





Sam Newton - Advocacy Manager

Sam is passionate about outdoor recreation, with a wide variety of interests including mountaineering, rock climbing, ski touring, tramping and mountain biking. He holds a BCom, a BA (hons.) and has been a recipient of a Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship.

Sam has worked in many high-profile roles, including as a parliamentary advisor and General Manager of the New Zealand Alpine Club. He serves on the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board and New Zealand Mountain Safety Council executive and is a trustee of the raham Dingle Foundation.






Esther-Maria Bukholt - Community Recreation & Sport Programme Manager

"My life philosophy is that we all have the right to live, work and play in ways that sustain us, our communities and the earth. Indeed, we are the richer for it."

Esther has applied this philosophy to her work and life for over twenty years in community development, recreation and adult education.

As a community developer, she is committed to social inclusion and initiated a wide range of successful, multiple partner projects with community, public, and private partners. For a bit of light relief, Esther likes family escapes to the bush, growing vegetables in her windy garden and late night jazz piano.





Daniel Evans - Events & Membership Manager

Originally from the Hawkes Bay, Daniel relocated back to New Zealand after spending the 14 years in Australia. He brings a wealth of event experience with over 11 years in the industry, he has managed all types of events across a variety of industries.

His role as Events and Membership Manager is to ensure that Recreation Aotearoa produces engaging events across each of its sectors with a view to increasing the membership base as a whole.

Daniel enjoys fitness, playing cricket, and going on long walks with his wife.




Maryanne Cheater - Events Coordinator


Maryanne is our Events Coordinator. She has 15 years of corporate events experience. She returned to her home city of Wellington six years ago following 11 years in London.

Maryanne's role at Recreation Aotearoa is to assist in the implementation of our exciting events programme, to facilitate connections within the recreation industry and to manage the Recreation Awards.

In her spare time she enjoys going to gigs, tramping, and yoga plus walks in the botanical gardens.




Rhiann Collins - Quality Programmes Coordinator

Rhiann has been in the Aquatics industry for 12 years. After qualifying as a swim teacher in UK, she then emigrated, with her family, to New Zealand, where she has held various roles in the aquatics sector including swim teacher, competitive swim coach and swim school manager.

In her role as Quality Programmes Coordinator, Rhiann is responsible for coordinating the delivery, administration and logistics to support the Quality Tools offered by Recreation Aotearoa. These include products such as Poolsafe, Pooltest, Qualitypool, Green Flag, Facilities and Reserves Manager and many more.

In her spare time she enjoys horse riding, dog walking, running, swimming, and spending time with her family enjoying all the New Zealand outdoors has to offer.



Linda Walsh - Finance & Administraton Coordinator


Linda joined us as is our Finance & Administration Coordinator in 2019.

This role continues her commitment in the not-for-profit sectpr that has spanned over 23 years.

In her role she is responsible for accounts payable and receivable on behalf of all the Recreation Aotearoa staff. Interacting with the dedicated and aspirational Board members as Board liaison is an area she finds particularly rewarding.

Linda grew up in the Wairarapa and moved to Wellington where she has raised a family in the windy city. She still misses those Wairarapa summers though.

To relax Linda revels in reading and cryptic crosswords. Using family time to make celebration cakes with her daughter is a creative outlet and brings a feel-good factor when sharing the results with others.

 "Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading."  - Lena Dunham


Leah Maclean - Marketing & Communications Manager

Leah is our Marketing & Communications Manager

After graduating from Massey University Wellington, she kick-started her communications career in the not-for-profit arts sector. Her work largely revolved around the dance industry and encouraging people to get involved in the art-form. 

Leah grew up in a small North Island town which is probably most famous for its Hobbit holes. In her spare time she enjoys picnicking in the park, hiking and camping with friends, travelling, and reading a good book on a sun-soaked deck. She also volunteers her time to Wellington's Lunar New Year Festival celebrations.


Mikayla Hopkins - Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Mikayla is our Marketing & Communications Coordinator/Kairuruku Whakatairanga

Born and raised in the mighty Manawatu, she recently moved to Wellington to pursue new opportunities in the marketing and communications industry and to experience big city living!

She loves to keep active and spends her free time at the gym, finding new hiking spots to explore with her dog Fez, or attempting to keep her herb and vegetable gardens alive. Her biggest passion is natural health and wellbeing, and she likes to experiment with native Aotearoa herbal remedies and formulate natural skincare recipes.



Kuruho Wereta - Māori Cultural Advisor


Kuruho Wereta is of Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Ngāti Raukawa descent. He carries with him an upbringing drawn from Māori arts, and tīkanga Māori.

His recreation and conservation background comes from a decade of working as Ranger for both the Department of Conservation and more recently the Regional Parks team in Auckland council.

His role in Recreation Aotearoa is to support and guide the team, members, and partners to fulfil the aspirations set out by the Whai Oranga Strategy. His goal is to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and implement a modern-day application of an authentic treaty partnership, Kuruho is committed to supporting and modelling these transformative ways of thinking into the organisation.

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