About me

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Former Chief Executive Officer, Wellington SPCA
Director, Public Safety Institute (New Zealand)
Co-Founder & Board Chairman, Animal Evac New Zealand Trust

PhD Candidate, Otago University

  • Masters in Emergency Management Charles Sturt University
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Emergency Management Massey University
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Public Management Victoria University of Wellington
  • Graduate Certificate in Terrorism, Safety & Security Charles Sturt University 
  • National Diploma in Adult Education & Training Open Polytechnic
  • Certificate in Animal Welfare Investigations Unitec Institute of Technology 
  • Certified Emergency Manager (CEM®) International Association of Emergency Managers

Prior to commencing his PhD with Otago University, Steve was the Chief Executive Officer of Wellington SPCA from September 2015 until it was merged into the Royal New Zealand SPCA at the end of October 2017. He previously worked for the Wellington SPCA nearly two decades ago as the youngest warranted SPCA Inspector in NZ history; he was the youngest and final CEO in their 133 year history. He led a nationally recognised organisation comprising over 80 staff and 1,100 volunteers who cared for over 6,000 animals across its Newtown and Waikanae Animal Care Centres plus administered the Wairarapa SPCA (including re-opening the Masterton SPCA centre). The Wellington SPCA is also home to the SPCA National Rescue Unit (formerly the ARU – Animal Rescue Unit), the country’s first technical animal rescue team, that he established 20 years ago, which has rescued over a 1,000 animals from hazardous environments since then. 

Steve’s 15 years of commitment to the public safety industry have seen him rise to positions such as: General Manager (Emergency Management & Business Continuity) at New Zealand’s largest government department, the Ministry of Social Development; Disaster Management Officer with the United Nations; and Chief Executive of the Emergency Management Academy of New Zealand. In 2008, Steve was awarded the prestigious Certified Emergency Manager (CEM®) credential by the International Association of Emergency Managers and remains less than a handful of practitioners in New Zealand to hold this credential. 

His skills and experience in co-ordinating a disaster response are sought-after internationally and he has responded to events such as the Samoan Tsunami (2009), H1N1 Lao PDR (2009), Typhoon Katsana in South East Asia (2009), Christchurch Earthquake (2011), Super Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines (2013) and the Edgecumbe Floods (2017). He has commanded/managed multi-agency rescue operations including Operation Poppy and Operation Edgecumbe

Steve has additional national qualifications in adult education, business, urban search and rescue, specialist rescue, security, animal care, civil defence management, outdoor recreation, fire rescue services and health and safety. In 2014, he, along with Police Sergeant Geoff Bray, became the first New Zealanders to be awarded the prestigious international Higgins & Langley medal for the development of the Swiftwater Recovery Specialist training programme.  

He also led the development and teaching of a new series of postgraduate qualifications in emergency management at Massey University, in his former role as Assistant Director (Teaching) at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research; as well as developed the Graduate Certificate in Public Safety for the University of Canterbury. He has delivered emergency management workshops and projects in the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Thailand and the USA, and has assisted with humanitarian aid work in many of these countries.

He is the former Chair of the CEM Commissioner for the International Association of Emergency Managers (Oceania-Asia CEM Commission), founding and former Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Search and Rescue.

He is also a founding member and the acting Global Chairman of the International Technical Rescue Association (ITRA) and Co-Founder of the Animal Evac New Zealand Trust, New Zealand’s only dedicated animal disaster management charity. He has peer-reviewed manuscripts for the Australasian Journal of Emergency Management, Australasian Journal of Trauma & Disaster Studies, International Journal of Animal Science & Technology, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, Animals and Journal of Search & Rescue (and founder of JSAR); as well as having published in many of these too.

He is an Associate Student with the Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, an Associate of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (University of Canterbury) and currently a Doctoral (PhD) Candidate with Otago University.

Steve is based in Wellington, New Zealand. If you are thinking about developing a career or interest in animal emergency management, check out my advice here.  

For further list of certifications held, visit my Rescue CV.