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Our trustees

Doug Saunders-Loder

Doug brings over 35 years of experience working in the seafood sector, starting as a crayfisherman back in 1981 on the Wairarapa coast. That lasted 12 months and after a relocation and few years in Tasman pursuing a career in Horticulture he eventually took a job as Resource Manager for Talley’s Fisheries Limited. He currently holds a diverse range of positions, including President of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, Chairman of the Southern Inshore Fisheries Co. Ltd, Chairman of the Challenger Scallop Enhancement Co.Ltd and is a Director on Fisheries Inshore NZ and Deepwater Group.

Doug’s extensive experience and deep connections across the entire sector, including with those in aquaculture, will help FirstMate to achieve its goal of being an organisation for everyone in the sector.

My passion is in ‘the people’. Those out there doing the job night and day and in all weathers and under constant pressures. It is essential that we are here to provide continued support to those hardworking NZers and their whānau.


Geoff Donley

Geoff is a Chartered Accountant who currently serves as the General Manager of Aramoana Seafoods Ltd in Auckland, a family-owned company that employs about a dozen full-time employees to operate a fleet of three vessels. Collectively, his staff have many years of industry experience and are motivated and passionate about harvesting fresh kaimoana for the nation. Geoff’s whānau stem from a long line of fishing interests and he is part of the fourth generation of fishermen.

Geoff brings extensive financial experience and an owner/operator perspective to FirstMate, and he is an active participant in the fresh harvest section of the fishing industry, as well as a member of a community not-for-profit board.

We have experience in dealing with real loss and challenging environments at sea. We value our ability to provide fresh seafood for everyday New Zealanders and often this work environment can be physically and mentally exhausting. We support implementing measures to mitigate these stressors that can impact our fishers.


Justine Inns

Justine has been a Partner at FirstMate supporter Oceanlaw New Zealand in Nelson for over a decade and has been working with iwi on natural resources issues since the mid-1990s and practising law in related fields since 2005. Through her work with iwi organisations, she has established and advised a number of charitable trust boards.

Many of Oceanlaw’s clients are members of the seafood industry but Justine believes it is a privilege to be able to contribute to a charity that can offer help to people in in stressful circumstances that is beyond the firm’s capacity as lawyers.

I try to take people on their own terms – we don’t all come from the same backgrounds, have the same stresses in life or care about the same things – and to try to understand what makes them tick so that we can better understand each other


Kate Hesson

Dunedin-based Kate is a commercial lawyer who currently works part-time as the Executive Officer of the Otago Rock Lobster Industry Council (CRA7) and is a Director of the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council.

She also owns a consulting business which gives governance, organisational relationship management and conflict resolution advice, and also brings strong problem-solving and communication skills to FirstMate. Kate has previously served on a number of not-for-profit and charitable organisation boards.

There are many different organisations and experts within the sector who can help with specific problems, but in times of stress or uncertainty it can be hard to know where to turn. FirstMate wants to connect fishers with the right people - people who can talk their language and walk alongside them - to steer them in the right direction and out of troubled waters.


Tamar Wells

Raised in Whakatū and based in Pōneke, Tamar’s family have a history in farming and more recently fishing and aquaculture. She studied Marine Biology at Victoria University and has always had a passion for learning about and positively managing Aotearoa’s primary resources. She currently works for Te Ohu Kaimoana in a role supporting iwi with their Fisheries Settlement Assets, allowing her to connect with a diverse range of people and businesses involved in the industry. Her mahi has given her specific opportunities to work alongside iwi, fishers and government on tough issues like the East Coast Tarakihi Rebuild Plan and the Maui and Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan. This form of work highlights the importance of addressing harvester well-being issues throughout the sector, and further strengthens her passion for the core element of resource management- the people.

Tamar’s background in fisheries policy and quota management gives her an understanding and appreciation of the numerous pressures our seafood whānau are facing. She is proud to be part of this innovative and much-needed support system of Aotearoa's Seafood industry, and hopes to bring her own innovation and support as part of the Board.

To have truly sustainable fisheries, our harvesters need sustainable livelihoods – we want to support the long-term health of our seafood whanau.


Major Sponsors and Supporters

Sponsors and Supporters

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.