Our Trust Board


Craig Ellison

Craig’s career has been in the seafood sector and in economic development, particularly within the Māori economy. He has a strong interest in animal welfare, and his engagement with Wellington Zoo sees a return to his academic roots as Craig has a MSc in zoology. Meeting the challenges of governance and safety within the Zoo is a challenge he is enjoying.


Councillor Sarah Free

Sarah is a Wellington City Councillor and Council's representative on the Board. She was previously on the Capacity Ltd Board and is a member of the Institute of Professional Directors. Sarah has had a long-term association with the Zoo, having been a member as a child growing up in Newtown. Her experience in education, conservation and public health are additional skills she brings to the Board.

Raewyn Bleakley


Raewyn joined the Wellington Zoo Trust Board in December 2014 and became Deputy Board Chair in 2017. She was Chief Executive of Business Central and Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce, Chief Executive of the Bus and Coach Association and Rental Vehicle Association, and is currently the General Manager, Governance, Stakeholders and Communications at the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Raewyn has a strong commitment to make a difference in the Wellington region and contribute to conservation outcomes.

Sue Paterson


Sue has held senior leadership and trustee roles in the cultural and government sectors.  Sue’s career includes positions as Executive Director of the New Zealand Festival, General Manager of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and as General Manager, Marketing and Communications for the Department of Conservation. Sue has an ONZM for services to the arts (2004), was named as Senior New Zealander of the Year (2017), received the Best Event Professional Award from the New Zealand Association of Events Professionals (2014) and was a finalist for the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards for Arts and Culture (2015).  Sue is a member of the Global Women’s Network and became a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club of Wellington for services to the community (2016).  She has expertise in fund-raising, sponsorship and marketing.

Michael Potts

A graduate in History from the University of Sydney, Michael Potts joined the Australian diplomatic service in 1972. Michael was Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand from July 2012 to February 2016. He was also accredited to Cook Islands and Niue.

Prior to that, Michael was Australian Ambassador to Austria and Australian Permanent Representative to the UN Agencies in Vienna from August 2009 to July 2012. From Vienna, he was also accredited to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, Slovenia, Kosovo and Ukraine and to the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Michael retired from the Australian Public Service in July 2016.

Benjamin Bateman

Ben is a practising lawyer specialising in international law. He has represented New Zealand’s interests at various international engagement activities throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Europe, providing legal advice on a range of complex international and commercial matters.

Ben has a strong interest in the environment and sustainability, with a Bachelor of Science from University of Canterbury. A proud Wellingtonian, Ben is passionate about intergenerational stewardship through corporate governance, and enhancing community assets for future generations.

Strategic Management Team

Chief Executive

Karen Fifield MNZM


Karen is the chief executive of the Wellington Zoo and the 2010 Wellingtonian of the Year in the environment category. Karen is also a member of the Wellington Conservation Board, the NZ IUCN Committee, the NZ Animal Behaviour and Welfare Consultative Committee, the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia Board and the Sustainable Business Council Advisory Board. Karen won the 2009 HER Business Wellington award for outstanding business leadership and sustainability and the 2010 HER Business NZ National award for outstanding business leadership. Karen was a finalist in both the 2014 and 2015 Westpac/Fairfax Media NZ Women of Influence Awards in the Social Enterprise category and the Board and Management category respectively.

Chief Financial Officer

Susan Macdonald

Susan has played an instrumental role in helping the Zoo become a financially sustainable business. Susan has a strategic overview of the Zoo and has been an integral part of the team rolling out the Zoo’s ten year capital development. Susan is a Chartered Accountant. Prior to working with Wellington Zoo, Susan worked for Fonterra and the New Zealand Dairy Board for eight years.

General Manager Animal Care and Science

Mauritz Basson

Beginning his career at Johannesburg Zoo, Mauritz has now been in the zoo industry for almost 30 years. His experience and specialist knowledge of animal operations make him an essential part of the Strategic Management Team.

General Manager Business and Partnerships

Daniel Warsaw

Daniel has a deep passion for applying sound business strategy and techniques to create sustainable change. Daniel has helped to transform the Zoo’s commercial operations and re-focus the revenue/business model through a social enterprise lens. Daniel is particularly interested in the linkages between the business sector and the community and creating long-lasting sustainable futures. Prior to working with Wellington Zoo, Daniel had a fifteen year career in the banking sector. Daniel was a finalist for IMNZ/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year 2015.

General Manager Community Engagement

Amy Hughes

After starting at Wellington Zoo as Marketing and Communications Advisor in 2005, Amy has worked in various roles at Wellington Zoo covering learning, visitor experience, marketing and conservation and sustainability. She has overseen the experiential transformation of the Zoo over the last ten years alongside the physical development of the Zoo Capital Programme, of which Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha is the last stage. She was a Finalist for Wellingtonian of the Year 2014 – Education. Amy is the regional representative for Australia and New Zealand on the International Zoo Educators Board of Directors.