Organising Committee

The Organising Committee of the NZAYC meets quarterly and keeps the wider community of Council members informed and connected between annual plenary events. It is made up of a diverse range of committee members, from law and politics students to scientists with research based in Antarctica. The committee is intended to represent the diversity of the council at large, bringing to the table the wide range of opinions and perspectives of young people with a vested interest in the Antarctic region.

An organising committee is in the process of being formed. Members to date include the following:


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Ngahuia Leighton

Ngahuia is from Whakatane (Ngati Awa) and has a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting, Taxation and Commercial Law. She is interested in the unique connection between New Zealand and Antarctica. In particular; the policy surrounding this connection, the responsibility New Zealanders have to ensure Antarctica’s preservation, and the platform this relationship creates for nurturing international relationships. She currently works at The Treasury as a graduate analyst. Outside of work Ngahuia has a love of food, music and travel. This has led her around the world and back to Wellington, where her food and music tastes are sufficiently satisfied.

Council members 

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Jacob Anderson

Jacob is the Programme Manager for the Sir Peter Blake Trust. He completed a Master of Science in Geology at the University of Otago where he held an AINSE Postgraduate Research Award. His research focussed on past Antarctic climate and ice sheet behaviour. Jacob has participated in three expeditions to the Antarctic.


Rongo A Whare Bennett 
Ngāi Tahu representative

Bio coming soon


Peggy Cunningham-Hales

Peggy holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, Ecology and Biodiversity and a Masters in Marine Conservation from Victoria University. Her interests lie in promoting scientific awareness, climate change policy and the protection of marine ecosystems from anthropogenic threats. She is currently gaining experience working within regional government in the environmental management and protection sector.

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Christoph Kraus

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in geology and physical geography and is currently studying towards his MSc in geology at the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. His Master’s research focuses on the early (~27 to ~23 million years ago) evolution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet using sediment cores recovered from the Ross Sea. Outside of his research, he enjoys playing football, hiking and travelling to places he hasn’t been before.


Hanne Nielsen

Hanne holds a Masters in Antarctic Studies from the University of Canterbury, and is currently working towards her PhD at the University of Tasmania. She has visited Antarctica 5 times, both with Antarctica New Zealand and working as a guide on Antarctic tour ships, where she lectures on human interactions with the southern continent. As an active member of the Association of Early Career Scientists ( and the New Zealand Antarctic Society ( Hanne enjoys sharing her passion for the Southern Continent with both her academic peers and the wider community. In her spare time Hanne enjoys traveling, writing and exploring the outdoors.


James Tremlett

James is a marine biologist and geographer with a focus on integrating social and ecological science to better understand human threats to our oceans. He has first-hand polar experience in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, and is also deeply interested in artisanal fisheries management in the topical Pacific. When not at work in Wellington James can be found surfing, diving or composing poetry on deep-sea fishing boats.

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Lagi Tuimavave

Lagi has just completed her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Cultural Anthropology and Samoan Studies, and is on the verge of completing her Bachelor of Law at Victoria University of Wellington. She grew up in Samoa where she knew little about the Antarctic, however snow and penguins have always captivated her (being a novelty for any Samoan kid!). Recently, she has become interested in how we in the Southern Hemisphere can better sustain our environment in the global context of climate change. When not studying, Lagi is either working, umpiring netball or babysitting.

Miranda Voke

Miranda is currently working for Victoria University of Wellington at the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences. She previously worked at the McGuinness Institute and wrote Working Paper 2015/02: Assessment of Organisations Involved With the Antarctic and Their Engagement With New Zealand Youth, a helpful resource for the Council. Miranda gained her master of research degree in environmental management and a B.A. in politics at Swansea University, Wales. In 2013 she co-authored a paper in the Journal of Ocean and Coastal Management with the University Marine Energy Research Group.

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Charlie Wilkinson
Sir Peter Blake Trust representative

Charlie holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Canterbury. Charlie spent a summer down on the ice as an Antarctic Youth Ambassador analysing the environmental impact and efficiency of Scott Base on the local environment. He is interested in raising awareness of Antarctic issues and finding solutions to the problems threatening the continent. In his spare time, he enjoys getting out on the water to sail or kite board, climbing mountains or attempting to cook a meal.