Founded by directors Michael Willis and Kathy Rangiwananga, Willowbank is very proud of the team of highly qualified and dedicated staff who make the park what it is.
As a team we are all passionate about preserving and ensuring a future for New Zealand's most endangered species, and we love sharing our passion for native and exotic wildlife with our visitors. We are also passionate about sharing New Zealand's cultural hertiage, and our team includes the talented actors and performers who bring the Ko Tane cultural experience alive, very ably led by Dave Brennan.
Role: Managing Director
Role: Visitor Centre Manager
Dale has worked at Willowbank for three years. Before coming here one of his jobs was as a Quality Assurance Engineer for Toyota Manufacturing in South Africa. Despite emigrating here six ago and loving life in New Zealand, Dale still can’t support the All Blacks when they play the Springboks. His favourite parts of the job are being in the outdoors, the variety of tasks, creative opportunities and the friendly atmosphere.
Shaun worked at Willowbank for twelve years. He was employed by the New Zealand Conservation Trust,and is much valued for his expertisewith kiwi breeding. Shaun has had many varying roles in his time here including tour guiding, kiwi breeding, and even souvenir sales. Before Willowbank he worked riding thoroughbred race horses and as a contract fencer. His favourite aspect of the job is that everyday is unique. Shaun currently owns and operates his own horse stud.
Stephen came to us a favour to a friend going on holiday and is still with us 10 and half years later making sure that everyone is paid and our finances balance. In his spare time, he is on the Trustee Board of his daughter’s school and he loves watching all forms of sport, runs and bikes regularly to compensate for his love of cooking and baking.“I love working here because no day is ever the same”
Dianne has worked at Willowbank for almost 12 years. She really enjoys interacting with the public and all the people she works with. Dianne is interested in most sport but especially rugby, netball and cricket.
Jane started work at Willowbank in January 2001, initially as a Night Guide then moved into the restaurant as waitress and subsequently Restaurant Supervisor for several years before moving into the office as Administrator. For the last few years Jane has been responsible for arranging bookings and functions, overseeing the Annual Pass system etc but can often be found on the front desk or helping out in the restaurant. She enjoys working Willowbank due to its uniqueness and the great staff.
Steve has worked at Willowbank for six years but has covered many areas - the restaurant and park but now is usually found at the front desk. He loves working at Willowbank as we have the best staff
Role: Head of the Natural New Zealand section (On sebatical for nine months to Peacock Springs)
Nick has worked at Willowbank for three years. Before Willowbank he worked as a penguin keeper at Kelly Tarltons, at London Zoo as a bird keeper, and even volunteered with marine turtles in Mexico. Nick enjoys working with a great team at Willowbank, and having a wide range of native species to work with.
His one year old daughter’s first word was “duck”.
Allister has been with Willowbank for tenyears. He was born on the West Coast in Hokitika. He has many duties at Willowbank, including gardening, general maintenance and he does all the recycling. Allister can tell a good joke and always knows the weather forecast.
Naline has always been interested in caring for animals which comes from her dad who took in multiple stray animals. The record was 13 cats and 9 dogs at one time. She has a Post graduate Diploma in Science (Zoology) from Massey & the Unitec Captive Wildl Animal management. She has worked in Zoos across Australia & New Zealand over the last 10 years in various roles. As a new employee here she can see a lot of potential at Willowbank and hopes to make a difference for the animals here.
David Uenuku Rakei Ora Brennan (Dave)
Role: Director of Ko Tane
Janet Hellyer (Jan)
Jan has been at Willowbank for seven years. She enjoys the variety of work, and working with the staff in the kiwi breeding centre. She also enjoys working with children and schools with NZCT’s education programs. Jan has been very successful in raising funds for various conservation projects. Before working for the NZCT Jan manufactured jewellery.
Graeme has recently started at Willowbank, taking on the native section in Nick’s absence. His start was delayed a week because of the birth of his second child. He has a B.Sc in Zoology and has previously worked as a nurseryman in a native plant nursery and for Doc on Stewart Island where he worked with a variety of native species. Before beginning at Willowbank, Graeme was working as an Assistant Pastor in a Korean church. Graeme loves working at Willowbank because every day is different and the animals are always doing something new.
Role: Evening Tour Guide, Junior Keeper Leader and weekend Kiwi Keeper
Blair has spent 2 years volunteering and working at Willowbank. He is currently studying for the National Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Management). He loves working at Willowbank because of the awesome team of staff and a passion for animals.
Mike has previously volunteered for Trees for Canterbury. He enjoys the outdoors and going to music concerts. Mike loves working at Willowbank because of the work, staff and the cooked lunch every day.
leadership and plans to do the National Certificate in Aniumal Management (Captive Wildlife). He loves working in the outdoors.
Bethany is currently studying for the National Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Wildlife). She has a degree in Animal and Veterinary Science from Clumson University - South Carolina. She worked previously as a nanny and has been woofing. Beth loves the once in a lifetime opportunity to work with so many different animals.
Lindsay is 67 year of age and has worked at rewinding motors, building factories and farming while bringing up her now adult children. More recently she looked after children and now volunteers at Willowbank on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Lindsay is busy but loves it.