Jaycee Tipene-Thomas

Winner of the Environmental leadership award at the 2023 Whakamānawa ā Taiao – Environmental Awards.

Jaycee’s passion for te taiao (the environment) and inspirational leadership is creating deep and meaningful change in Te Taitokerau.

As a wahine Māori, te taiao is her whakapapa and she firmly believes "ko matou te taiao, ko te taiao ko matou" – we are all the environment and the environment is us.

While completing her environmental degree and raising three tamariki, she volunteered and led various conservation efforts, then worked for Te Papa Atawhai (DOC) where she was selected to represent the organisation in Nepal at the World Ranger Congress in 2019.

Jaycee has made it her mission to build on her kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and bring together mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and western science for the betterment of the whenua (land), taonga species and our people.

From mentoring rangatahi (youth) into environmental studies and helping them connect to Te Ao Māori, to co-leading over 50 whale strandings and reviving mātauranga Māori in the marine space, Jaycee is a real force for change.

She has been deeply involved with the Kauri Ora Iwi Colab, helping to develop a mātauranga and Rongoā (traditional treatment) protocol to guide and share knowledge around treating and monitoring kauri.

Across the many environmental projects she leads or is involved with, she is working tirelessly to ensure Māori knowledge is respected and incorporated into the mahi.

Jaycee is an outstanding role model whose knowledge and dedication have earned respect and admiration within Te Taitokerau and beyond.

(Images: Wendy Bown)