I am married to Jenna Packer, artist, and together we live the rural idyll on our small property in Waitati, Blueskin Bay. We are parents to two young men, and fun fact – together we’ve produced several children’s books: “Tip the Stomper”, “Tibor, Melchior et les abominable piratocoqs” and “Enough is Enough”.
Less talk – more action
If nothing else, Covid-19 has shown us that talk is cheap, but the right actions are effective. Beyond books I’ve spent most of my life working on practical, intelligent solutions to common problems. That’s why I set up Willis Advisory – to help others address climate and energy challenges – and became a director at Climate Navigator. I grew up on a farm where you can’t just whistle up help – you have to work your way through a problem. That experience gave me a mindset that seeks practical solutions to even the most complex problems. I developed the concept and oversaw the construction of NZ’s first climate safe house. It was not an easy job because it meant coming up with the right design (and designer), organising a team, finance and sponsors, finding the labour and solving complicated legal ownership issues. That house is a now a reality and is providing shelter. We need many more climate safe homes – especially in South Dunedin. This is a template for achieving climate justice and the time for it is now.
I’ve been at the ‘frontline’ of climate and social justice efforts for years now – every step of the way learning what works and what doesn’t. I established and was manager of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust for 12 years. There I organised the retrofitting of insulation in many Otago homes, helped establish the Cosy Homes Trust, ran many community workshops, expos and events such as climate change adaptation planning for Waitati and the ‘Our City, Our Climate’ workshops for Dunedin stakeholders in 2018, and developed projects that have attracted national attention. I was the general manager of Blueskin Energy, and ran the Blueskin Energy Network, a peer-to-peer electricity retailer. I’m chair of the Energy Committee at the Business South with business connections in the city, and a member of the ‘Innovation and Participation Advisory Group’ at the Electricity Authority. We’re looking broadly at innovation and new technologies, business models, and consumer participation to decarbonise the electricity sector. I always work for resilient communities – where action on climate change comes about through community consultation, cooperation and collaboration.
My current role as a Climate Navigator gives me a great deal of reward, working together with others to secure pathways to success through bold climate action.