Our purpose

The Environmental Defence Society is a dedicated team of professionals who are committed to improving environmental outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand.

EDS seeks to protect and restore Aotearoa New Zealand’s outstanding landscapes, freshwater systems, oceans and indigenous biodiversity. We do this through holding business and government to account, strengthening the law when it is found wanting, and supporting good environmental management practice.

Meet the people who make it happen.

Our staff

Gary Taylor MA(Hons), CNZM, QSO

Chairman & Chief Executive

Gary provides overall leadership for EDS. He has extensive experience in corporate governance, having been the Chairman of the Auckland Area Health Board, the Climate Change and Business Centre and the Peoples Centre Health Trust. Gary has been involved in resolving environmental issues for over four decades.

Raewyn Peart MCom, LLB, BCom, BSocSc, MNZM

Policy Director

Raewyn heads EDS's environmental policy work. She has over 30 years professional experience in environmental law and policy, having worked as a resource management lawyer and policy adviser to business, government and the not-for-profit sector. Raewyn has published widely on coastal, marine and other environmental issues.

Greg Severinsen PhD, LLB(Hons), BA

Senior Policy Advisor

Greg provides the lead on EDS's environmental system reform projects. He has practised in resource management law at a major law firm and worked as a policy analyst at the Ministry for the Environment. Greg has published, presented and taught on a range of resource management and environmental law topics.

Cordelia Woodhouse LLB, BSc


Cordelia leads EDS's litigation programme as well as providing policy support. She has three years' experience in the practise of environmental law and brings to EDS her understanding of the intersection of science and law.

Deidre Koolen-Bourke PhD, LLM (Hons), LLB(Hons), BA/BSc

Senior Policy Researcher

Deidre is a lead researcher for EDS's policy projects. She was a teaching assistant for public law and legal method at Auckland University's Faculty of Law for over ten years, and worked at Child Youth and Family as part of its privacy and official information legal team. Deidre has published on indigenous rights, conservation and animal law.

Shay Schlaepfer LLB, BSc

Legal & Policy Advisor

Shay provides expert legal and policy support for EDS's work. She has over 10 years' experience as a resource management lawyer, beginning her career as EDS's first in-house solicitor before working in chambers and for Brookfields Lawyers in Auckland.

Tracey Turner MSc (Hons), LLB, BSc

Legal & Policy Researcher

Tracey is an environmental policy researcher, with a background in marine science and law. She provides input on EDS's policy projects and prepares submissions on policy changes affecting the marine environment. Prior to joining EDS, Tracey worked as a planner for an environmental consultancy in Auckland.

Olivia Grainger LLM (Hons), LLB (Hons), BA

Legal & Policy Researcher

Olivia is an environmental law and policy researcher. She provides research input into EDS's policy projects and prepares submissions on proposed legislative and policy changes that affect the natural environment. Prior to EDS, Olivia worked as a regulatory lawyer in private practice in New Zealand and overseas, before moving into policy and advocacy roles at the New Zealand Permanent Mission in Geneva, and New Zealand Winegrowers in Auckland.

Sasha Maher PhD, MA (Hons), BA (Hons)

Programme Director

Sasha is a key policy advisor on climate change and has a special interest in forestry and agriculture. She also manages EDS's communications, fundraising and events. Most recently, Sasha worked for Fonterra in a variety of policy and business development roles in Aotearoa New Zealand, the US and the Caribbean.

Katharina Stickling MSc, BASc

Office Manager

Katharina manages day to day administrative duties and accounts for EDS. Her Bachelor of Applied Science in European Studies focused on international cooperation activities within public and private sector institutions. In former positions, Katharina supported sustainable businesses such as GoodFor in marketing, branding, international sales and retail management.

Zadie Woodhouse

Office Pup

Zadie is responsible for staff morale and the welcoming of guests to the office. She takes her job seriously and is in constant attendance at EDS's Ponsonby office.

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