About Us

About Us

FirstMate is a charity set up for our commercial seafood whānau, with seafood whānau, to provide you with one-on-one support when you need it the most.

A team with experience

FirstMate is run by people who understand what it means to be part of New Zealand’s dynamic and challenging seafood industry. The team has deep knowledge of the seafood sector and they know what you might be going through because many of them have been through it too. Now, they want to give something back to the sector by helping others. There is no agenda and no judgment, just a willingness to put you first.

Get in touch today

Call 0800 237 438 for free between 7am and 10pm any day to speak to a member of the FirstMate team, who will put you in touch with the best Navigator for you (local or otherwise). If you prefer, you can reach out directly to a Navigator in your region. They will be happy for you to have a chat at a time and place that suits you.

If making a phone call isn’t for you, you can get in touch using the form at the bottom of this page.

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Connecting you with people who can help

Our Navigators have access to a database of local and national experts, including those dealing with physical and mental health, business and finance, and technical aspects of the seafood industry, including innovation. Navigators can connect you to these services, which might also include local and central government agencies such as Maritime New Zealand. If necessary, the Navigator can stay involved while you work with an expert.

Meet the Navigators

Building a support network

From time to time, there will be opportunity for you to attend FirstMate-organised activities in your community, such as innovation sessions, wellbeing workshops, and social events for all the family. Making connections, especially in isolated communities, is really important, so we will try to provide opportunities for you to get together to talk shop – or not – with your friends, family and colleagues.

Resources and information

In our Resources section, you’ll find a wide range of free materials that might help with something that’s bothering you, give tips and ideas on how to prevent problems cropping up in the first place.

View the Resources
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There are many different organisations and experts within the sector who can help with specific problems, but in times of stress or uncertainty it can be hard to know where to turn. First Mate wants to connect fishers with the right people - people who can talk their language and walk alongside them - to steer them in the right direction and out of troubled waters.”

- Kate Hesson, FirstMate Trustee

Our trustees

Amy Moore

Amy Moore

Amy was born and raised in a Greymouth-based inshore fishing family, with both parents involved in the industry. She currently lives in Christchurch with her young family and works as a consultant across the primary industries as well as being the owner and director of several companies. She is currently collaborating with several industry groups and regional councils to promote commercial fishing as an employment of choice.

Amy’s understanding of the value of teamwork and her ability to build excellent working relationships will be critical factors in the success of FirstMate.

I’m really passionate about ensuring that we are recruiting and retaining talented young people for the future of our sector.”

Doug Saunders-Loder

Doug Saunders-Loder

Doug brings over 35 years of experience working in the seafood sector, starting as a crayfisherman back in 1981 on the Wairarapa coast. That lasted 12 months and after a relocation and few years in Tasman pursuing a career in Horticulture he eventually took a job as Resource Manager for Talley’s Fisheries Limited. He currently holds a diverse range of positions, including President of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, Chairman of the Southern Inshore Fisheries Co. Ltd, Chairman of the Challenger Scallop Enhancement Co.Ltd and is a Director on Fisheries Inshore NZ and Deepwater Group.

Doug’s extensive experience and deep connections across the entire sector, including with those in aquaculture, will help FirstMate to achieve its goal of being an organisation for everyone in the sector.

My passion is in ‘the people’. Those out there doing the job night and day and in all weathers and under constant pressures. It is essential that we are here to provide continued support to those hardworking NZers and their whānau.”

Geoff Donley

Geoff Donley

Geoff is a Chartered Accountant who currently serves as the General Manager of Tasman Marine Services Ltd in Auckland, a family-owned company that employs four full-time employees to operate an inshore trawling vessel fishing into Mangonui and Auckland. Collectively, his staff have many years of industry experience and are motivated and passionate about harvesting fresh kaimoana for the nation. Geoff’s whānau stem from a long line of fishing interests and he is part of the fourth generation of fishermen.

Geoff brings extensive financial experience and an owner/operator perspective to FirstMate, and he is an active participant in the fresh harvest section of the fishing industry, as well as a member of a community not-for-profit board.

We have experience in dealing with real loss and challenging environments at sea. We value our ability to provide fresh seafood for everyday New Zealanders and often this work environment can be physically and mentally exhausting. We support implementing measures to mitigate these stressors that can impact our fishers.”

Justine Inns

Justine Inns

Justine has been a Partner at FirstMate supporter Oceanlaw New Zealand in Nelson for over a decade and has been working with iwi on natural resources issues since the mid-1990s and practising law in related fields since 2005. Through her work with iwi organisations, she has established and advised a number of charitable trust boards.

Many of Oceanlaw’s clients are members of the seafood industry but Justine believes it is a privilege to be able to contribute to a charity that can offer help to people in in stressful circumstances that is beyond the firm’s capacity as lawyers.

I try to take people on their own terms – we don’t all come from the same backgrounds, have the same stresses in life or care about the same things – and to try to understand what makes them tick so that we can better understand each other.”

Kate Hesson

Kate Hesson

Dunedin-based Kate is a commercial lawyer who currently works part-time as the Executive Officer of the Otago Rock Lobster Industry Council (CRA7) and is a Director of the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council.

She also owns a consulting business which gives governance, organisational relationship management and conflict resolution advice, and also brings strong problem-solving and communication skills to FirstMate. Kate has previously served on a number of not-for-profit and charitable organisation boards.

There are many different organisations and experts within the sector who can help with specific problems, but in times of stress or uncertainty it can be hard to know where to turn. First Mate wants to connect fishers with the right people - people who can talk their language and walk alongside them - to steer them in the right direction and out of troubled waters.”

Major Sponsors and Supporters

Sponsors and Supporters