Jody Weir BSc, MSc, PhD

jody pic watermarked

Since arriving in Kaikōura in 2004 to study the local dusky dolphins, I have been amazed by the abundance and diversity of marine life right in our backyard.  I have a deep interest in animal behaviour research and how we can use what we learn about wildlife and human behaviours to reduce threats to wildlife and the environment.

I am immensely passionate and enthusiastic about the work that we do and looking for ways to connect our community to KORI’s research and conservation projects through volunteer and student participation, public presentations and different media outlets.

I have a MSc in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University, a PhD in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Victoria and since 2010 have run a community conservation project focused on lemurs in Madagascar.  Currently I am directing the research programmes for Kaikōura Hector’s and dusky dolphins as well as our local population of little penguins. 


Alastair Judkins

alastair picture watermarked.jpg

I have a long background in marine conservation and tourism. My career began in Scotland and I came back to Kaikōura in 2004 to work in dolphin and marine seabird tourism. This is where I met my future wife, Dr Jody Weir, who was conducting marine mammal research and teaching field schools.

I’m the Operations Manager for KORI and I’m a qualified skipper. I also co-founded the Penguin Education and Awareness Programme (PEAP) and I am qualified in penguin banding.

In 2015, I trained a Hungarian Vizsla, named Mena, to become a Conservation Dog to assist in locating little blue penguins. Mena is now a vital part of our Kaikōura penguin research and has been also been utilised by other NGOs and local governments around New Zealand.

You can read more about Mena here.


Ashley Boot 

ashley watermarked.jpg

I graduated from the University of Otago with a BSc in Zoology and Ecology which helped spark my interest in marine life.

I have been involved in KORI since 2012 helping out with the penguin monitoring program as well as assisting with the Hectors dolphin boat-based survey research and data entry. This included being the first KORI research assistant intern in 2015!

I am currently based in Christchurch where I work as a collections technician at Canterbury Museum. I enjoy lending a hand where I can and learning all about Kaikōura’s marine wildlife.


Courtnay Wilson

courtnay watermarked.jpg

I hail from Ontario, Canada where I did an undergraduate degree in History/Political Science and a Masters Degree in Theology.

Since 2008, I have been privileged to call Kaikōura home, serving as Program Director for Creation Care Study Program–an interdisciplinary study abroad program focused on environmental education.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with marine mammals, especially dolphins.  I love being involved with Kaikōura Ocean Research Institute and exploring our marine backyard.


 Mallorie Hackett

mal photo watermarked.jpg

I am currently employed by Whalewatch Kaikoura as sea crew, and previously worked as a natives keeper for Orana Wildlife Trust doing breed for release kiwi, whio, pateke, red, yellow and orange fronted kakariki.

Prior to that I spent 8 years employed at the International Antarctic Centre as a penguin keeper looking after rehab or ‘second chance’ little penguins and white-flipper penguins.

I joined KORI in 2015 when I was seal monitoring with DOC in Kaikōura. I’m now a part of the penguin monitoring programme and assist with the boat based research for Kaikōura’s local Hector’s dolphin, fur seal and penguin populations.

The reward of being part of KORI is subtle, hidden in doing what I love with a professional and amazing team of like minded people!


Katie Eshelman

Katie Eshelman_headshot

Originally from the U.S., I came to Kaikōura as part of the Creation Care Study Program (CCSP), and I am now KORI’s wildlife artist.

I became acquainted with KORI when Jody taught our module on Marine Ecology and Conservation, and it was through this that I fell in love with the ocean, and began to understand how much it needs our protection.

My first project was designing the new KORI t-shirt. The design shows 62 of Kaikōura’s marine species, each of which has its own quirky habits, complex behaviours and a relationship to mankind.

I hope that my designs for KORI will help raise awareness to protect these amazing animals and their ocean habitat.


Al Hall

me kori

I came to Kaikōura in 2018 to see the sperm whales, and became involved with KORI after hearing about the PEAPs.

Wildlife protection has always been an issue close to my heart, and it is great to be involved in an organisation with so many like-minded and passionate people. KORI allows me to use and develop my skills in relation to something I really care about.

Whilst my role is more the communications and publicity side of things (and building this website!), I am definitely happiest when out on the water searching for dolphins and piloting the research boat!


Laura Brush

I’m from the US, but I have spent a little over a year in Kaikōura over the last few years. I first came to Kaikōura in 2018 as a student with the Creation Care Study Program (CCSP) and recently returned for a season as a staff member with CCSP. 

I first encountered KORI as a student in a Marine Ecology course taught by Jody. I’m thrilled to have joined the team as a volunteer and trustee. My favorite parts of helping with KORI are collecting data on the local wildlife and meeting with the team. 

I have lived near the Gulf of Mexico for most of my life, but it was the Pacific off the coast of Kaikōura that turned me into an ocean-lover. This makes me very thankful to get a chance to support the local marine wildlife as a part of this great team! 


Nora Kahler

I’m originally from Pennsylvania in the United States, but have called Kaikōura home since 2018. I studied biology and sustainability at university, which included a term with the Creation Care Study Programme here in Kaikōura. I returned in 2018 to serve on the staff team. 

I’ve been enchanted by penguins for as long as I can remember, so it’s been particularly delightful to assist with KORI’s penguin monitoring. I’m honoured to be able to interact with the abundant marine life in my own backyard through the important work KORI does and I also appreciate connecting with like-minded people through the organisation.


Gustavos Ramos

A former veterinarian with a specialty in zoo animals, I have been an environmental consultant for the last 20 years in the areas of environmental impact and risk assessments. In the course of my work, I come into contact with national and regional organisations and governments in all of these fields.

For the last 16 years, I have been a lead auditor for EarthCheck, working in the sustainable tourism industry, mainly in Mexico and Latin America, where I have seen first-hand how an integrated Environmental Management System and a dedicated approach to sustainability can help mitigate environmental and climate change Issues.

I am a published author of books on Biology and Environmental Education and I have just completed a new book on the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. I moved to Kaikoura in early 2019 and look forward to working with KORI as a new Trustee.


Nicki Smith

I’m originally from Oregon, USA so I’m a Pacific Northwest girl at heart. I started living & working in New Zealand in 2007 and quickly fell in love with this special place. I have a degree in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Montana. So my expertise involves park ranger/forest service work. However, for the past 10+ years I’ve been here working with Christian organizations that encourage young adults to engage in their faith more deeply.

I’ve worked with many international students and travelers over the years and used the outdoors & love of nature as a way to grow in faith & understanding of God. In 2020, I volunteered with the first Great Kaikōura Whale Count and enjoyed being part of this pioneer project. I learned how to better spot humpback whales! I’m excited to be part of KORI and the great work they are doing for the Kaikōura community.