Gary is Community Waikato's Kaiwhakarite. He is of Ngati Paoa and Ngati Haua iwi. Gary joined Community Waikato after 14 years of directing and managing Maori Health gain and implementing projects to reduce inequalities across the Northern, Midland and Waitemata DHB. Gary brings many years of experience in Maori and community development, governance, strategic planning, project management and relationship building. Gary works at Community Waikato with Maori community organisations in capacity building, and marae development.
As part of Gary’s role as Chair of Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust, he has recently been working alongside DOC, Fonterra and the Miranda Bird Society supporting an international partnership to secure a safe flight path for New Zealand’s bird of the year - the bar-tailed godwit. Gary travelled to China on 7 November as part of a delegation to sign a MOU between the Chinese Government and NZ Officials.
Gary says the iwi has a strong connection to kuaka or godwits.
“Our ancestors have watched this special bird come and go from Pūkorokoro on its incredible flights all the way to Alaska and back for generations.”
“We’re pleased to be working with DOC, Fonterra and the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Naturalists’ Trust to protect this taonga. We want to ensure kuaka continue to make their amazing journey for generations to come.”
Bar-tailed godwits and red knots have returned to Pūkorokoro-Miranda, to spend the summer, having flown 12,000km from Alaska and Siberia. The godwits breed in Alaska, the red knots breed in Siberia. Recognised under the Ramsar Convention as an internationally significant wetland, Pūkorokoro Miranda, on the Firth of Thames, has a Chenier Plain, consisting of shell banks. This rare coastal feature provides a seasonal home for about 40 species of shorebirds.
|At the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Shorebird centre from left to right, Carolyn Mortland (Fonterra Director of Social Responsibility), Lou Sanson (Department of Conservation's Director-General), Keith Woodley (Miranda Shorebird Centre Manager), Maggie Barry (Minister of Conservation), Chinese Ambassador Wang Lutong, Scott Simpson (MP Coromandel), Gary Thompson (Chair of the Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust), Morehu Wilson (Ngati Paoa Negotiator), Gillian Vaughan (chair of the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Naturalists’ Trust), Xie Chengsuo (Chinese First Secretary), Mr Wu Wei (new Chinese First Secretary).