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Our Navigators

All FirstMate Navigators have experience of living and working in the seafood sector – they understand your world and many of them have overcome challenges themselves. They’ve had training and are ready to help you find options to deal with whatever might be troubling you, from the impacts of regulations to business resilience to dealing with life at home when your partner is at sea – nothing’s off the table. Sometimes, a cup of tea and a yarn might be enough, but our Navigators also know how to connect you to other sources of help when that’s needed. You can trust in them to provide a friendly ear and to always keep your information confidential.

Call 0800 ADRIFT (0800 237 438)
for support or advice

Cindy Bailey

Far North - Te Tai Tokerau

I arrived in NZ from Canada in 1982 and settled in the Bay of Islands, where I worked as a nurse at the Bay of Islands hospital. I met my husband who was fishing in the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa areas at that time. We moved to Tutukaka/Whangarei then settled down in Pt Wells/Leigh for 22 years. Currently, we are back living in the Bay of Islands which I consider my NZ hometown.

I have been involved in the Leigh Commercial Fishermen’s Association for many years and on the NZ Federation of Commercial Fishermen executive.

I am proud to be part of the NZ fishing community and passionate about the healthy product that we supply. Fishers are hardworking and down to earth, and in my observation have always been resilient, adapting to changing times.

But over the last several years, there has been an onslaught of obstacles coming fast and furious at fishers. The owner/operators are being hit hard. Resilience is not enough on its own. Fishers and their families need support.

That is where I see my role, supporting hard working people that I have the outmost respect for, in an industry that I love.


Dallas Yearbury

Whitianga - Whitianga-a-Kupe / Bay of Plenty - Te Moana-a-Toi / Coromandel - Te Tara-o-Te-Ika-a-Māui

I live at Cooks Beach in the Coromandel with my partner and son. I grew up in Whitianga from the age of eleven and love what the area offers: close-knit community, fishing on our doorstep and our little “slice of paradise”. My family have been bottom longlining out of Whitianga for the last 38 years so are no strangers to hard graft!

This has given me a working knowledge of the industry and of the various fishing methods and some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of an ever-changing industry. I’m looking forward to giving something back to the fishing industry to the best of my ability.


Mark Armstrong

Whitianga - Whitianga-a-Kupe / Bay of Plenty - Te Moana-a-Toi / Coromandel - Te Tara-o-Te-Ika-a-Māui

I was born in Taupo and schooled in Tokoroa, and I’ve been fishing and diving for nearly 50 years. In the late 90’s I was a skipper for the Gisborne Volunteer Coastguard. I’m happy to have been working with NZ’s seafood industry for over three decades, including over twelve years as a Fishery Officer.

I now have my own company, and my work mostly involves advising on fisheries compliance operational matters and QMS administration.


Rick Burch

Napier - Ahuriri / Gisborne - Tairāwhiti

I commenced my fishing career in Cornwall UK, aboard a lobster potting boat in 1967. I then visited Australia where I trawled for prawns in the gulf of Carpentaria. I returned to Cornwall in 1976 and purchased a vessel for lobster potting. In 1982 I decided to visit New Zealand and I have been working in the fishing industry here since then. In 1994 I went to Scotland to pick up the 12 mtr trawler Nancy Glen which I still operate today.

The fishermen I work alongside here in Napier are a very close knit group as we have been working together for many years. I am sure this would apply to many other ports here in New Zealand. However, times are changing and they can be stressful. It is therefore important that we have a group like the Navigators who can help others in these difficult and stressful times.


Dave Wakefield

Napier - Ahuriri / Gisborne - Tairāwhiti

My father was a fisher in Kaikoura. I started out working off Greymouth in my own small vessel but then went to Nelson to work in the deepwater fleet, where I learnt more about different methods. I went back and forth between NZ and Aus for quite a while and owned vessels over there.

Eventually I came back to NZ to get my skipper’s ticket and went surface longlining in the Pacific. I ended up in Napier and got a position as a manager. I’ve got a lot of experience of lots of aspects of fishing, including MOSS, compliance, and working with foreign crews, which I can use to help others.


Hone Tipuna Tibble

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara / Wairarapa
Chatham Islands - Wharekauri | Rēkohu and Pitt Islands - Rangiaotea | Rangiauria

I'm fortunate to live between Wharekauri & Te Whanganui a Tara with my whānau. Born in Wellington, with 9 brothers & sisters, I was raised in Filly/Feilding until I left Hato Pāora Māori Boys College. Our second home was our marae and from a native speaking father all of us speak Māori. I made my way back to Wellington, where diving for kaimoana just was. I can recall one of my first bosses in a government department said to bring a towel on our way up to our Palmerston North branch. We stopped just before Paekakariki and he tells me we are going to get some kaimoana for the kuia and koroua at the office in Palmerston North. That was the beginning, from diving courses up north at Goat Island to Port Vila through New Caledonia to eventually gathering kai for whānau in the Chatham Islands.

Being raised around a marae with a large whānau and in the hapori/communal environment leads to a community upbringing, one that lends itself well to the fishing community here on the Wharekauri/Rēkohu/Chatham Islands. I've built up a range of skills in my time working throughout the public and private sectors, getting some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of an ever-changing industry. I'm looking forward to being able to contribute to the ocean faring community here on the islands to the best of my ability.

'Walking in the steps of our tipuna, Maui a Tikitiki a Taranga & Kupe the Navigator.'


Amba Blommart-Klay

Nelson - Whakatū / Tasman - Te Tai-o-Aorere

I am currently a Contractor working in the electronic monitoring field. I have been involved with various projects based in the inshore fishing fleet over the past five years. Prior to this I was part of the Observer Programme for six years and this is where my involvement in the fishing industry began. Before this I worked at Cawthron as a Senior Lab Technician. The fishing industry has captivated me on a work and personal level, and I am keen to give back, and be part of something positive. It's a tough industry no matter where you sit within it.

It’s so vast and varied and has so much to offer. The Navigator role is a positive addition to the fishing industry and its people and I’m proud to be a part of it and look forward to meeting fishers and their families. I am based in sunny Nelson and like so many other parts of NZ have a fishing industry on my doorstep. I want to see that industry thrive, and I look forward to supporting all of us within it, however I can.


Brendan Woodnutt

Canterbury - Waitahi / Timaru - Te Tihi-o-Maru

I’ve been involved in the fishing industry for many years, primarily as a Health & Safety Manager for a nationwide stevedoring company. I also have a background in corrections and justice, and in supporting people with challenging life situations.

In my own life, I’ve dealt with the challenges of raising a large family, and I’ve supported members of the community through a variety of roles, such as in human resources and church leadership that has enabled me to assist people with mental health problems, relationship issues and challenging events that have caused personal stress.


Glenn Robinson

Otago - Otakou

My involvement in the fishing industry started in 1991 as a deckhand on an inshore vessel trawling and crayfishing followed by a stint mining in Australia. Then I went off to the U.K. for work and travel eventually settling back in NZ in 2001 and going back to sea as Skipper of the trawler ‘Solitaire’, which I went on to purchase in 2007.

I’m currently the Vice President of the Port Chalmers Fishermen’s Association and a NZ Fed member.


Pat Nyhon

Southland - Murihiku / Riverton - Aparima / Fiordland

I started fishing in 1987, crewing on inshore trawl, crayfish and oyster boats out of Bluff. I got my CLM in Dunedin and began skippering a cod, cray and tuna vessel, and eventually ended up with two of my own trawlers, Antares and Cressy. These days, I still operate Cressy myself, trawling from 20m out to 500m. I’ve been a member of the executive committee of the NZ Federation of Commercial Fishermen since 2017.

I’m married, with 3 children and 3 grandchildren. Apart from fishing, my hobbies are riding Harleys and spending time with my family and mates.


Gordon Wardrop

Southland - Murihiku / Riverton - Aparima / Fiordland

I started pāua diving off Stewart Island in 1971 but I’ve also fished for oysters and crays in Fiordland / Stewart Island, and trawled for cod. In 1980, I was crewing with my wife for tuna and crayfish and in 1981 bought Shangri-la.

I fished for cray, cod, kina and tuna until my first son arrived in 1983. I sold Shangri-la to one of my crew in 2008. I spent several years on the CRA8 committee.


Iwiroa Wairua

Chatham Islands - Wharekauri | Rēkohu and Pitt Islands - Rangiaotea | Rangiauria

I’ve worked and been involved in the fisheries industry for over 20 years and been a contract paua and kina diver for most of that time, but I also have strong connections to the farming sector.

I was previously a trustee of the Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust and am still on the Trust Board. I’m also a mandated rep on the Chatham Islands Community Fisheries Forum.

I’m actively involved in the innovation side of fishing, through things like working up a kina plan and developing undeveloped stocks.


Tracy Page

Chatham Islands - Wharekauri | Rēkohu and Pitt Islands - Rangiaotea | Rangiauria

I’ve lived on the Chatham Islands since I was 10 years old. My father started fishing when I was 14 years old and I would deckhand for him during school holidays ( I was always seasick lol!). I attended Burwood School of Nursing and then nursed at Sunnyside hospital in Christchurch. I returned to live on the Chathams at 21 and worked in many places: Hotel Chathams, Chatham Packing Company, the meatworks, Te Kohanga Reo , Waitangi Seafoods and Hā O Te Ora Wharekauri Trust (Māori Community Services).

I’m married with 3 children and we have a wee farm and Airbnb. My husband Stephen has fished/dived since he was 16. We own the FV Equinox and fish for crayfish and blue cod. I love gardening and have a small nursery, I’m passionate about our small community and their wellbeing.


Let's talk

Call 0800 ADRIFT any day between 7am and 10pm or email info@firstmate.org.nz to access the support you need. We also have a growing library of free resources available for you to access on our website.

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