Kiwi House Staff

Lizzy Perrett - Wildlife ManagerLizzy Perrett - Wildlife Manager

Originally from Hampshire in the south east of England, Lizzy completed her BSc (Hons.) degree in Zoology at Durham University in the chilly North of the UK. Her zoo career began in the Education Department at Birdworld, a large Bird Park in the UK with over 300 bird species. This is where Lizzy discovered a passion for developing animal experiences that give visitors a unique and exciting glimpse into the lives of the zoo residents. After three years she returned to study and completed an MSc in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College in London. Alongside her MSc, Lizzy spent time working at ZSL London Zoo and developed her research on parrot nutrition that was conducted at zoos throughout the UK. This passion for good animal nutrition is something that has stayed with her and she is enjoying reviewing diets at the Kiwi House.

Lizzy then worked in St Lucia (West Indies) as a field researcher for Durrell Wildlife. Her time was spent monitoring Green Iguana nesting, collecting biometric data on adult and hatchling iguanas and assessing mongoose population and movements using radio-tracking and capture techniques. During this time, Lizzy not only developed her bush skills (she lived in a tent on a beach with no amenities for most of the year!) but also her interest in endangered species affected by introduced predators. It is no surprise that New Zealand was soon to feature on her Bucket List of places to work.

On her return to the UK, Lizzy returned to the Birdworld Management Team as Head of Education and Displays for over six years. During this time she created many successful attractions for visitors. This included a unique flying display featuring macaws, hornbills, kookaburras, owls, spoonbills, ibis... the list goes on! An experienced animal trainer, Lizzy has trained many species that other zoos have not attempted and works on bringing natural behaviours to the attention of the visitor. A firm believer that birds should only do what they want to and can be shown without gimmicks, all her displays were a huge hit with the staff and visitors who felt closer to the animals than ever before. Her role at Birdworld was diverse and Lizzy had overall responsibility for all information signs, school visits and public displays. She also ran the outreach programme visiting local schools and colleges, was the Volunteer Co-ordinator for the whole zoo and guest lectured on animal care in her spare time at agricultural colleges and universities.

In 2012 Lizzy visited New Zealand to gain first-hand experience of New Zealand wildlife. She worked as a volunteer research assistant on Ponui Island tracking North Island Brown Kiwi chicks, restraining birds for the attachment of transmitters and gathering of biometric data. Night work involved checking nests, assisting with the gathering of egg data and night filming of kiwi both by tracking individuals foraging and setting up remote nest cameras. Earlier this year, she moved to New Zealand with her partner, Dean (who is now the Team Leader of Natives and Exotics at Hamilton Zoo) and after completing a full animal department audit for the kiwi house, she has agreed to join us as our Wildlife Manager.

When asked what she loves about the Kiwi House Lizzy says, "the unique feel to the place... staff here treat every visitor like they are one of the family and are proud to show off their native animals. Everyone in the town has been so welcoming and I am looking forward to developing the experiences offered at the Kiwi House, while retaining its small and friendly charm."



Gina HeronGina Heron – Fulltime Keeper

Gina started life in West Auckland where she was raised on a horse farm. Later in life, Gina moved to a small town, but her dreams were pretty big so she completed a media degree in the hope that she could spend her days working amongst the hobbits where her small stature would blend in. Her degree led her to filming an amateur documentary in America, which she enjoyed so much that it inspired her to return to academia. She went on to study fir a Bachelor of Science and Technology majoring in Animal Behaviour at the University of Waikato. This led to a one-year studentship at Hamilton Zoo, where her passion for birds and reptiles was ignited. Although she worked primarily with these species, she was also a keeper of small primates, ungulates and other small mammals.

Since her studentship Gina has continued to work for Hamilton Zoo on a casual basis, whilst also developing other skills in her many jobs. She has worked on pest fish studies at Agricultural Research Laboratories, has managed a book store and has worked as a cleaner. When asked about her new role at the Kiwi House, Gina said "I am so excited to relax into one single job (after quitting my four others) and to work with some amazing birdlife in an awesome new environment."



C.J. HemaraC.J. Hemara - Weekend Supervisor

C.J. has been a great addition to the Otorohanga Kiwi House team since January, 2014.

He cites his most rewarding Kiwi House work experience as the Kiwi feeding time, when he occasionally gets "attacked" by our star attraction "Atu", the Great Spotted Kiwi, and adds to our visitors' entertainment!

C.J. loves road trips and the beach, The Kea is his favourite New Zealand animal and he recommends visiting the Otorohanga Kiwi House, because you can see Kiwi close up, plus a lot of other New Zealand birds and reptiles.



Anthony CoventryAnthony Coventry – Keeper

Originally from a farm in Zimbabwe, Anthony has been exposed to nature and wild animals his whole life. Having completed most of his schooling locally in Otorohanga, he completed his BSc (Tech) degree at The University of Waikato. Now he has returned to his home town with a strong desire to see the Otorohanga Kiwi House become a highly desirable destination for all tourists.

He has a passion for introducing people to nature and giving them unique encounters with animals. "While I love animals, I also love interacting with all kinds of people and showing them things they may otherwise never get the chance to see."

Anthony has previously spent a summer volunteering at the Otorohanga Kiwi House in 2011/12 as part of his degree. Then he worked with Project Tongariro and the Department of Conservation (DOC) in Turangi conducting research to assess the health of the Waimarino Wetland using vegetation surveys and experimental bird recorders. His third and final university placement was with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) assisting in research to investigate the effects of Dog Cockles on nitrogen processing in coarse sediments.



Sally FoxSally Fox – Bird Keeper

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: 1986.

I SPECIALISE IN: Keeping the birds happy, well fed and cared for.

MY PASSIONS: Working with native birds, conservation, travel and opportunity.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: They are all my favourites, even the male Australian Shelduck that likes to give me a good boot when I enter his pen!

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Kea training and enrichment with the Keas.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: We are passionate about sharing NZ’s unique native fauna and flora and giving visitors a relaxing, enjoyable and informative experience during their visit to the Park.



KayKay – Visitor & Retail Manager

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: 2004.

I SPECIALISE IN: Making sure all visitors enjoy their experience at the Kiwi House and the shop is stocked with interesting and varied souvenirs.

MY PASSIONS: Not telling!

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: The Tuatara.

FUNNIEST MOMENT HERE AT THE PARK: Sitting outside buying stock for the shop from a souvenir company and a Weka bird took off with a cushion that I was looking at buying for the shop!

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Being part of an enthusiastic team which means coming to work is a pleasure.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: It's the best place to see Kiwi, native birds and flora at reasonable prices.



LouLou – Senior Shop Assistant & Guide

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: 1997 (the first 4 years as a student and now I'm a Senior).

I SPECIALISE IN: Guiding visitors through the nocturnal house and assuring that all visitors see a Kiwi and are happy when they leave.

MY PASSIONS: Animals and my baby.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: Penguins then Kiwi!

FUNNIEST MOMENT HERE AT THE PARK: Kay and I hate mice!! Well one got behind the counter! Kay and I were fighting over the seat to stand on while a lovely visitor got a box and caught it for us!

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Feeding and handling the Kiwi.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: Best place in New Zealand to view Kiwi, very educational for young people and overseas visitors.



SueSue – Caretaker/Groundsperson

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: 2008.

I SPECIALISE IN: Keeping the park clean and tidy.

MY PASSION: I'm passionate about animals and the role they play in our lives.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: I love all animals equally!

FUNNIEST MOMENT HERE AT THE PARK: Wading in the Eel pond, and looking down into the eyes of a large Eel that was looking back at me.

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Being part of a fantastic working team of people and a learning moment at every turn.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: It's an opportunity to have a relaxed stroll through native trees and enjoy being able to see and hear our native wildlife.



Katie DKatie D – Shop Assistant & Guide

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: 2006.

I SPECIALISE IN: Guiding visitors through the park and supervising the souvenir shop.

MY PASSIONS: All wildlife, particularly birds.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: Native pigeon (Kereru).

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Seeing delight on people's faces when they see Kiwi for the first time.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: The Kiwi viewing is second-to-none. Also, we have the only Great Spotted Kiwi on display in New Zealand.



MoniqueMonique – Senior Shop Assistant & Guide

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: 2010.

I SPECIALISE IN: Making sure our guests at Camp Kiwi are happy, Weekend Supervisor in the Reception/Shop and guiding our visitors.

MY PASSIONS: I love the great outdoors, the beach and beautiful scenery, and also being part of a wonderful team here at the Otorohanga Kiwi House.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: The kiwi of course, but I also love the Pukeko and Tuatara.

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: At this stage... it would have to be feeding Atu, our Great Spotted Kiwi (who is on display in the mornings). She is definitely a challenge. Also, I cannot forget learning to balance the tills!

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: At the Otorohanga Kiwi House you can have the unique experience of coming close to a Kiwi (the best opportunity in New Zealand). We also have a beautiful selection of native birds, and a large dome walk-through aviary… and, if you need a place to stay, Camp Kiwi is right next door.



Te ArohaTe Aroha – Junior Shop Assistant & Guide

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: May 2012.

I SPECIALISE IN: Your souvenir needs and guiding within the park.

MY PASSIONS: Working on the farm and working with and learning about animals. I also have an interest in the travel industry.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMALS: The Kiwi, Kea and Kaka.

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Working at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Being able to work with people and meeting many from different countries and learning about the different wildlife we have.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: It has so much to offer New Zealanders and visitors to our country, because Kiwi are our New Zealand icon and Otorohanga Kiwi House is one of the few places in our country, where people are able to see the Kiwi live in their natural environment.



JessicaJessica Tucker

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: November 2009.

I SPECIALISE AS: Junior Shop Assistant/Guide.

MY PASSIONS: Animals, farming, hockey and anything to do with being outdoors.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: The Bellbird - for its beautiful song.

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Meeting people from all over the world and seeing the expressions on their faces when they see the kiwi for the first time. Also, when they leave the park, seeing just how happy they are with what they have seen and learnt.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: To enjoy a peaceful walk through New Zealand's native flora and fauna, with a wide range of native birds and lizards all with very unique personalities. And the main attraction is a spectacular view of our native kiwi.



KaylieKaylie van der Hayden

I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE: March 2011.

I SPECIALISE AS: Shop Assistant/Guide.

MY PASSIONS: Netball, being with my friends, travel and animals.

MY FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND ANIMAL: Kea, because they are cheeky and intelligent.

MOST REWARDING WORK EXPERIENCE: Getting to show and talk about the kiwi to tourists and visitors, who have never seen one before.

WHY VISIT THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK: Because it is the best place to see a kiwi and other native birds and trees found only in New Zealand. (Not to mention the great staff who work there!)

Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner
Donate to Kiwi House ADOPT A KIWI HOUSE CRITTER program