Our Staff

Sarah Murray | Chief Executive

Sarah is our Kaiwhakahaere Matua Chief Executive. Her role is to lead Recreation Aotearoa towards Te Pae Tawhiti and our mission Te Whai Oranga – enhancing wellbeing for all New Zealanders through recreation. Her focus is on ensuring that Recreation Aotearoa is a strong voice for recreation in New Zealand, and that the organisation delivers high quality programmes and services that support, empower and inspire our members and stakeholders.

Sarah joined Recreation Aotearoa in March 2023. Prior to this she worked for central and local government in roles that saw her working across parks and open spaces, outdoors, community recreation, sport and play. She has held a number of sector governance roles including as a founding trustee of the Shift Foundation and board member of Recreation Aotearoa and WORD Youth Adventures. She is also a long-standing committee member for Revolve, a (mostly) non-competitive cycling club focused on getting more women on bikes. A keen swimmer, cyclist, kayaker and tramper, in her spare time she loves getting active and connecting with Aotearoa’s natural environments.

 Email: sarahm@nzrecreation.org.nz

Tracey Prince-Puketapu | General Manager Operations

Tracey has been with Recreation Aotearoa for almost 10 years, a number of those years spent in the role of Aquatic Programme Manager - Team Leader. 

In her role as General Manager Operations Tracey is responsible for managing the programme manager team, staff safety and wellness and 2IC for the organisation. She will ensure that the organisation captures insights and evaluates the mahi we do to ensure continuous improvement.

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

 Email: tracey@nzrecreation.org.nz

Sam Newton | Advocacy Manager

Sam is the Advocacy Manager at Recreation Aotearoa and manages the organisations Government Relations, ensuring the voice of recreation is heard at the highest levels of decision making in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Commerce, a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, and has been a recipient of the Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. He has worked in a variety of high-profile roles including as a Parliamentary Advisor, and as General Manager of the New Zealand Alpine Club.

Sam has held a number of Board appointments, including as Chair of the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board and Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council. Sam is passionate about active recreation in the outdoors and has a wide variety of interests including rock climbing, mountaineering, ski touring, packrafting, and tramping. He also serves as an Officer in the New Zealand Army Reserve.

 Email: sam@nzrecreation.org.nz

Daniel Evans | Business Services Manager

Daniel joined Recreation Aotearoa in late 2017 as our Events and Membership Manager. He brings over 15 years of event management and delivery experience to the organisation.

Daniel is on our senior leadership team, and he loves to engage with our members, partners, and stakeholders.

In his spare time, he loves to recreate with his wife and daughter on the Kāpiti Coast where they reside.

Email: daniel@nzrecreation.org.nz

Rhiann Collins | Aquatics Programme Manager

Rhiann has been in the Aquatics industry for more than 16 years. Originally from UK she worked as a swim teacher and coach before moving to New Zealand in 2009. She continued to work in the Aquatics sector in the Learn to Swim space before joining recreation Aotearoa 5 years ago.

In her role as Aquatics Programme Manager Rhiann is responsible for the Recreation Aotearoa aquatics programme, which includes Poolsafe, Quality Pool, and the Waves Conference, as well as support for the wider industry.

In her spare time, Rhiann enjoys trail running with her dogs, mountain biking, horse riding, swimming, and being creative.

Email: rhiann@nzrecreation.org.nz

Kieran Smith | Parks, Play & Open Spaces Programme Manager

Kieran is our Parks, Play & Open Spaces Programme Manager. With almost a decade of navigating the wild terrains of parks, play, and cemeteries, Kieran isn't just a programme guru — he's a community connector extraordinaire.

After managing green havens and playgrounds with the Taupō District Council over the past eight years, Kieran doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the mud-stained, grassy walk. His mission: to enhance the vibrancy of our communities by creating healthier, happier spaces.

But Kieran's not just about work. He's a superhero dad of three (a six-year-old and two four-year-olds), and a master-juggler of rugby refereeing, family fun, and championing sponsorship for King Country referees. And if that's not enough, he's also on a quest for knowledge, pursuing his Bachelor of Business Studies through Massey University Distance School.

Join Kieran on this adventure - where business meets greenery, family time gets an A+, and every park becomes a thriving community hub. It's not just about maintaining spaces, it's about creating vibrant, leafy canvases for memories to flourish!

Email: kierans@nzrecreation.org.nz 

Katie Owens | Disability & Inclusion Programme Manager

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

Email: katie@nzrecreation.org.nz

Jess Pratt | Programmes Coordinator

Jess is our Kairuruku Kaupapa/Programmes Coordinator, supporting our incredible Programme Managers. With previous experience in the aquatics sector, Jess brings a unique blend of expertise to our team. But her journey began amidst the farmlands of the Hutt Valley, where she spent her upbringing exploring the great outdoors, including diving into the world of water adventures.

For Jess, recreation isn't just about personal health; it's about building stronger communities. She's committed to supporting Recreation Aotearoa's vision every step of the way.

Outside of work, Jess loves diving into a good book and hanging out with her friends. She's all about chasing the thrill of the river or soaking up those beachy vibes whenever she gets the chance.

Email: jess@nzrecreation.org.nz

Maryanne Cheater | Events Manager

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.

Email: maryanne@nzrecreation.org.nz

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 sector 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

Email: linda@nzrecreation.org.nz

Olivia Silverwood | Marketing & Communications Manager

Olivia is our Marketing & Communications Manager/Kaiwhakahaere Whakatairanga.

Olivia has had broad experience across a range of businesses, organisations and sectors. Working for Recreation Aotearoa allows her to indulge in her passion for communicating how an active lifestyle can enhance your wellbeing.

Olivia lives in Porirua, the ancestral home of Ngāti Toa Rangatira. Outside of the office, she enjoys exploring local parks, green spaces, and pools with her whānau, trail running, listening to a good Podcast, learning te reo Māori, and planning her next travel adventure.

Email: olivia@nzrecreation.org.nz

 Jenny Jordan | Community Recreation Programme Manager

Jenny has worked in the recreation industry for over twenty years. Over that time, she has been a community recreation programme leader, outdoor instructor, tour guide, tertiary educator, board member, commercial, PTE, not-for-profit and local government employee and a private consultant. She also visited every continent, had a baby and obtained her Master of Business Administration (MBA).

In her role Jenny aims to support the sector to provide great recreation experiences for our communities and individuals wellbeing. She is kaitiaki for the annual Recreation Conference, Kia Rite Hoea programme, managing the Accredited Recreation Professional process, the Tuakana Teina mentorship programme and developing other initiatives to help support the industry.

Jenny is passionate about community, diversity, learning, adventure, recreation and her daughter. She is looking forward to connecting with you and your work in the recreation sphere.

Email: jenny@nzrecreation.org.nz

Kuruho Wereta | Kaiwhakahaere Whaihua Māori – Manager Māori Outcomes

Kuruho Wereata, a proud member of Ngāti Raukawa ki te tonga, Te Āti Awa, and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, currently holds the key role of Kaiwhakahaere Whaihua Māori at Recreation Aotearoa. His journey includes a decade of service as a Ranger for the Department of Conservation and the Regional Parks team in Auckland Council.

In his role, Kuruho weaves the threads of interconnectedness that binds all things, guiding his team towards the objectives of the Whai Oranga Strategy. A steadfast advocate for the revitalisation of Māori philosophies, he merges creative approaches with game theory and taonga tākaro, fostering a unique environment for transformational thinking.

Challenging paradigms that disadvantage Māori thinking, Kuruho strives to infuse the wisdom of traditional concepts into modern systems. His work transcends professional boundaries, making significant contributions to systemic change and the promotion of indigenous wisdom in contemporary landscapes.

Email: kuruho@nzrecreation.org.nz

Kieran McKay | Outdoor Programmes Manager

I love the outdoors. I have been recreating and working in NZ outdoor sector in all the major disciplines for close to 40 years. Even though I am known for my caving exploits, I also like to explore the back country of Aotearoa. I know from firsthand experience the physical connection to the natural outdoor environment creates healthier and happier people. Through my work for Recreation Aotearoa, I would like to help remove some of the barriers and inspire people to put a higher value on the natural world, outdoor recreation and outdoor education. Even though I have so far learned only a little te reo Māori and about te Ao Māori, I am beginning to understand that Aotearoa would be a better place if we followed Māori values, in particular Manaakitangi and Kaitiakitanga.

I have represented the caving sector in the development of Activity Specific Guidelines, Good Practice Guidelines and on qualification reviews for NZOIA and Skills Active. I have managed meetings between several different sector groups, used social media to publish stories both in written form and video and I have inspired people with presentations. I bring all this experience together for Outdoor Recreation Aotearoa to help the organisation in its advocacy for the outdoors. I am in a position to assist organisations to navigate the requirements of the Adventure Activity regulations and use my social media skills to tell stories to help increase the profile of the organisation and related issues. Even though I work alone most of the time I relish the opportunity to work collaboratively with others.

Email: kieran@nzrecreation.org.nz

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