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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

North Island

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.

Zak Olsen

Northland - Te Tai Tokerau

I'm excited to be a part of FirstMate's team and to support the seafood sector.

My journey began when I was just 16 when I joined the longliner San Kaipara. From there, I joined the Sanford fleet, and gave trawling and Danish seining a go too. I ended up skippering the San Kaipara and even took a detour across the Tasman to complete the NSILP in Australia.

It's been an incredible journey and I throw myself into every task 100%. I've been lucky enough to pick up a few awards along the way, including the Seabird Smart Award and the Young Seafood Star Award. Currently, I'm part of the NZ Fish Fed's executive team, and I'm in charge of the board at our local youth theatre.

Fishing is in my blood, but I've also tried a few other things, like owning a restaurant and a café, and running an American BBQ catering company. I'm a big family man and my idea of the perfect day is spending quality time with my two young Disney princesses, Ariel and Moana.

Above all, I’m here to connect with fishers and marine farmers impacted by adverse weather, like the recent cyclone and flooding, and to offer the support you need to overcome the effects of unexpected challenges. I understand deeply the highs and lows of our amazing sector and look forward to connecting with you.

Gavin Scoles

Auckland - Tamaki Makaurau 

I grew up in Dunedin, Timaru, Aramoana and Sawyers Bay.

My dad was a part-time waterside fisherman, and I still vividly remember him and my cousins slinging cotton set nets in the backyard of our house when I was little.

I have fond memories of fishing with my dad - catching flounder, gathering cockles from the sandbanks and catching fish off Port Chalmers Wharf. At the age of ten, I became crew on a boat and I’ve been passionate about fishing ever since.

I eventually ended up owning my own fleet of three boats and kept shifting north. I now live in the beautiful Bay of Islands.

I have a deep working knowledge of the industry, the positives and the challenges. As part of FirstMate’s dedicated support network of navigators, I provide a confidential and non-judgmental listening ear to help people working in the seafood sector thrive.

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.

Vicky Hunt

Napier - Ahuriri | Gisborne - Tairāwhiti

I'm a Napier local through and through. After spending a good chunk of my life living and working in Auckland, my husband and I decided to make the move back to our roots in Hawke’s Bay in 2019. Now, we call Hastings home, and that's where my business, Fish Admin Services Limited, came to life. I offer all sorts of administrative and quota management services to some awesome fishers.

My journey in the seafood and fishing world spans over 25 years, and most of that time I've spent working in admin roles, predominantly with Sanford.

I've dabbled in marine engineering and even had some hands-on experience with tugs and barges. My skills cover everything from fishing vessel and quota management to fisheries and maritime compliance.

If you're having a tough time with electronic reporting systems, I've got your back. I know my way around them and can lend a hand to fishers who are experiencing issues with the three main systems everyone's using.

Fun fact – I speak Spanish! I spent a year in Northern Spain while my husband was busy supervising the construction of two fishing vessels. Those very vessels are now out here fishing in New Zealand's inshore waters.

I’m very passionate about the seafood and fishing world, and I’m very aware of the challenges people in the industry face, particularly when unforeseen situations, like a cyclone or flooding, occur. I’m passionate about being an Adverse Event Navigator with FirstMate. It's a chance for me to roll up my sleeves and get closer to the amazing fishers and marine farmers out there.

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.'

South Island

Mike Holland

Marlborough - Te Tauihi-o-te-waka

I live in Renwick, Marlborough and work from Havelock South. I have worked in marine farming for more than 35 years.

I was brought up on a farm in South Otago and left school at 14 to learn the trade of shearing sheep. In 1988 I decided to let go of my farming dreams and start my mussel industry career as a deck hand on a mussel boat based out of Havelock. A year later I sat my Skipper’s Ticket and ended up skippering a mussel harvester through to 2007 when I was offered a job ashore as operations manager at Clearwater Mussels - a role I’m passionate about to this day. I wear a lot of different hats to support 12 vessels and 80 staff.

In 2011 I was named Marine Farmer of the Year by the Marine Farming Association (MFA) - a tremendous honour for me and my family. I continue to be actively involved in several industry associations and bodies, acting as a voice for the marine farming industry.

I am fully aware of aquaculture’s significant contribution to regional economic growth and to the seafood sector as a whole. And I am also no stranger to the challenges and hardships people in the industry may face.

I know firsthand how things can easily tip over and become overwhelming, and that’s when people might need a bit of help to cope. I look forward to giving something back to the industry I’m so proud to be a part of. FirstMate navigators are here to enable a mental well-being check-in and to provide some comfort to help you deal with whatever might be troubling you.

Hailey McCauley

Marlborough - Havelock - Te Tauihi-o-te-waka

I split my time between two homes: one in Renwick and the other in the scenic outer Pelorus Sound. My hometown of Havelock, where I grew up and currently work, serves as the gateway to the breathtaking Pelorus Sound.

Growing up, my father worked as a deckhand and skipper in both the mussel and fishing industries. I was regularly out on the water with him, and later, my husband also worked in the mussel industry while our children were young.

Currently, I work as the vessel repairs and maintenance planner for Sanford fleet 6, overseeing 12 vessels in Havelock and Golden Bay. I'm also fulfilling my dream of becoming a skipper myself, working towards my SRL and gaining sea time on the crop sourcing vessels.

Through my experiences in both work and home life, I understand the challenges of the industry and recognise the different ways in which we all cope with them. Sometimes, all it takes is a listening ear and understanding.

I'm proud to be volunteering as a FirstMate Navigator. I'm here to offer support and a friendly ear on the other line to anyone in need. Feel free to reach out anytime - I'm here to help!

Amba Blommaart-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.

Leanne Guard

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

I am proud to be a member of the Guard family dynasty, who have been fishing in New Zealand waters for 196 years. My uncles, brother and father have all been heavily involved in commercial fishing. My QSM-awarded grandfather Jack Guard was a boat builder on 100 working vessels over his career. 

 For several years, I was involved in the Black Petrel and Tarakihi projects at Nelson-based Guard Safety, which I found very rewarding.

I have a keen interest in mental health and the holistic wellbeing of workers in the fishing sector, having grown up in a generational fishing family. 

I know it’s easy to get lost in the pressures and dynamics of our industry. That’s why we need to have each other’s backs. 

I am available for a chat about anything that’s bothering you, and if you need more help than I can give, I’ll know where to find that for you.

Glenn Thomas


I have been a registered physiotherapist for more than 20 years. I have extensive clinical occupational physiotherapy experience across the food processing, horticultural and agricultural industries. I am also experienced in health promotion and health service development, non-clinically, within men’s health, Māori health, mental health and community development.

A substantial percentage of those working in the seafood sector have been through some form of pain, strains or sprains. The health system can often be a challenge to navigate in order to get the right advice and support, that’s why as a professional health navigator I am here to answer health-related questions for you, your crew and whānau.

I can provide free initial online support nationally or face-to-face for people in the Nelson/Tasman region.

If I can’t help, or if your health issue may not be physiotherapy-related, then I can help connect you to local and relevant health services that can. Don’t stay in pain when help is only a call away.

Appointments can be made by calling FirstMate on 0800 237 438.

Harry Hansen

Buller District/West Coast - Kawatiri

Originally from South Africa, I moved to New Zealand in 1990. With over 40 years of diverse work experience, I've held roles as a general manager, operations manager, and project manager for large corporate and medium-sized companies, including managing a small fishing company. My expertise involves overseeing maintenance projects, factory redesigns, and vessel refits to ensure compliance with statutory requirements.

Having worked both in New Zealand and internationally – from Southern Africa and South America to Newfoundland, Canada – I've spent considerable time at sea on vessels, gaining a firsthand understanding of the challenges officers and crew face in their own environment. Skilled in cross-cultural communication, I've managed diverse teams and personnel from places like Peru, Chile, China and Indonesia. I've always been a people person with a hands-on management style, a straight shooter with a strong planning and logistics focus.

Now, in my retirement years and residing north of Westport, I'm a passionate motorcycle enthusiast, but my love for the fishing industry remains as strong as ever. I'm very excited about this volunteering opportunity FirstMate has given me to share my knowledge and experience with people in the commercial seafood sector or to simply lend a listening ear to those who need someone to talk to.

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 have 3 children and a wee farm and Airbnb. I love gardening and have a small nursery, I’m passionate about our small community and their wellbeing.

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.

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 - Te Rua-o-te-moko

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.

Richard Langdon

Stewart Island - Rakiura

I began my fishing career at Ward Beach in the 1970s as a bait boy. I enjoyed cray fishing there and at Cape Campbell, but I didn't have the background to be successful.

In 1979, I moved to Stewart Island to pāua dive, left in 1996 and then returned in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the Oban Volunteer Fire Brigade, taking a job with Southern Seafoods growing oyster spat. I am still growing oysters here today.

I know the black dog well and know how important it is to get the right type of help. I’m also a FirstMate Navigator because I want to give back to the seafood community.

I know how tough our industry can be, and I have plenty of experience in helping people in challenging real-life situations. Hit me up for a chat or advice, if you need it, and I’ll be more than happy to be of assistance.

I look forward to serving the community that has given me a real sense of belonging.

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