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 - 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.

Kuruho Wereta - Kaihautū Kaupapa Māori / Manager Māori Outcomes

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 implement the Strengthen & Adapt programme, which aims to transform Recreation Aotearoa into a bi-cultural organisation, supporting our cultural capability building, and leading our relationships with tangata whenua.

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. "

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 she enjoys trail running with her dogs, mountain biking, horse riding, swimming, and being creative..

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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