The Longbush Ecological Trust

The Longbush Ecological Trust is dedicated to creating a haven for rare and endangered species of native plants and animals at and around Longbush.

The trust is registered with the Charities Commission (CC45848) and IRD. 

The Trust deed is available for download here.

The founders

When Anne and Jeremy Salmond first visited Longbush together in 1970 after a family picnic at Longbush Reserve, they were struck by its beauty.

Jeremy Salmond is a conservation architect and founding partner of Salmond Reed Architects in Auckland. He is the author of Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940 and is a former Chairman of ICOMOS (International Commission of Monuments and Sites) in New Zealand.

Dame Anne Salmond is a writer and scholar, and a Distinguished Professor in Maori Studies at the University of Auckland. She is a former Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University and Chairman of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. She is the patron of the Whinray Ecological Trust in Gisborne.

The trustees

The founding Trustees of the Longbush Ecological Trust are all long-standing contributors to Longbush Ecosanctuary. They are: Dame Anne Salmond, Chairperson; Jeremy Salmond, Treasurer; Meikle McNab, secretary; Steve Sawyer and John Thorpe.

Each trustee is responsible for an aspect of the overall project:

Our ecological expert

At the end of 2002, Anne and Jeremy contacted Steve Sawyer (PDF), who was about to leave the Department of Conservation to set up his own ecological restoration business, Ecoworks NZ. Steve is a vital part of the Longbush project, bringing vision and expertise to its execution. He is responsible for its high ecological standards, the writing of grant applications, and many initiatives and ideas.

Steve specialises in the recovery of endangered species and has worked with the Chatham Island black robin, royal albatross, tuatara, taiko, North Island brown and great spotted kiwi, tokoeka, blue duck, shore plover, parea, Buller's mollymawk, kokako, kakapo, Deuvacel's gecko and many more. 

He began work with the New Zealand Wildlife Service in 1987, when he was 17. He later worked for the Department of Conservation at Mt Bruce, in Hawkes Bay, on the Chatham Islands for five years, Motu and Gisborne as a Biodiversity Ranger and then Programme Manager until 2003 when he established Ecoworks NZ Ltd. 

Steve has worked in many of New Zealand's wilderness areas including Fiordland, Coromandel's offshore islands, Murchison, Ruahine, Raukumara, Hurunui and Kaweka Ranges, Little Barrier, Tongariro, Te Urewera, the Chatham's including many trips to South-East, Mangere, the Sisters and Forty-Fours Islands.

Steve and his wife Robyn established the Whinray Ecological Trust during 2000.  Steve coordinates the Kiwi Recovery Programme in the Gisborne-East Coast Region, writing funding applications, surveying and catching kiwi and coordinating the Operation Nest Egg side of the project.

Steve and his Ecoworks NZ team were the first in the world to successfully use acoustic attraction methods to establish breeding grey faced petrel and fluttering shearwater (at Young Nick's Head), and visual and acoustic attraction to establish a breeding colony of gannets.  Papers on these world firsts are being published in Notornis.

New Zealand Geographic Profile: Steve Sawyer - The Bird Whispererer

Key contributors

Many people have given generously of their time and effort to the Longbush Ecosanctuary.

Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki elders led by Ringatu tohunga (priest) Charlie Pera and the late Vern Penfold formally blessed the site in 2000.

The Thorpe family in Gisborne (Anne Salmond’s family) carried out the first plantings in 2000, with John Thorpe producing the first plans for the restoration of the hills at Longbush.

Richard Thorpe propagated and planted the first stands of trees at Longbush.

Geoff Thorpe arranged for tree shelters to be erected for the plantings along the foothills.

In 2000, Gisborne archaeologist Gordon Jackman carried out an archaeological survey of the site and researched its history.

When Anne and Jeremy decided to place the riverside bush under a QEII National Trust covenant in 2001, they met Malcolm Piper, the local representative of the QEII National Trust, who organised the covenant and has been a strong supporter and mentor for the project ever since.

In 2001 Anne and Jeremy got in touch with Andy Carrie, who ran the Conservation Corps at Tai Rawhiti Polytechnic. Andy involved the Conservation Corps in a series of plantings at the Longbush Ecosanctuary, which made the first stages of the restoration possible.

Plants for the restoration of the Longbush Ecosanctuary are provided by Nigel and Lana Hope of the Native Garden Nursery in Gisborne, who also give their advice and support.

Bec Stanley, then a Department of Conservation staff member in Gisborne specialising in rare and endangered plants, carried out the first survey of species at Longbush Reserve in 2002, and gave advice on the first stage of its restoration.

Rene Orchiston of Gisborne, the creator of the Orchiston harakeke collection, gave her blessing for the collection to be planted in the Longbush Ecosanctuary, thus returning it to the district.

Sue Scheele of Landcare New Zealand provided the flax plants and invaluable advice about the planting and care of the pa harakeke (flax collection) at Longbush.

Meikle McNab, a neighbour up the valley and a weaver from Ngati Porou, has also made a crucial contribution to the Longbush Ecosanctuary, organising the care of the pa harakeke and acting as its kai-tiaki (guardian) since 2007.

Steve Salmond, Anne and Jeremy’s son, designed the Longbush Ecosanctuary logo, and its website.

Kojak Oterangi Kutia of Turanganui Ararau has been responsible for the plantings at Longbush Ecosanctuary since 2008.

Bill and Sally Gaddums have allowed native robins to be translocated from their Matawai property to Longbush Reserve.

John and Amy Griffin of Young Nick’s Head station have given permission for titi chicks to be translocated to the Longbush Ecosanctuary.

Ben Hartley designed an elegant and appealing booklet on the Ecosanctuary for our funders and supporters (

Dr. Mark Smale, Senior Ecologist, Landcare wrote an excellent report on the indigenous plant species by land form at Longbush, sponsored by GDC and Envirolink