Community Reference Group

We have set up a Community Reference Group to help challenge our thinking as we develop the Wanaka Town Centre Masterplan.   

As a group they are made up of Wanaka Community Board members and six newly appointed members (see profiles below) who have a strong local interest in Wanaka's future and bring a diverse range of skills and expertise to the table.  Their input will be vital as we progress through the various stages of the Masterplan process.   The group will meet regularly to test ideas and help ensure anything being proposed meetings the needs of the Upper Clutha community.   


Gina Dempster

Gina Dempster finalA former economist, Gina retrained in 1999 as a journalist to tell stories that were not being told.

She has spent 20 years working on environmental issues, including 12 years as the communications manager at Wanaka Wastebusters.

Gina feels lucky every day to live in Wanaka, and to enjoy the beautiful landscape from her bike.

She is passionate about active transport, connected communities and sustainability. 

Mike Saunders

Mike Saunders profileMike’s family have owned property in Wanaka since 1952 and have holidayed/lived here ever since. He and his wife Janey have lived permanently in Wanaka for 14 years having farmed near Lumsden before that.

Mike is on the Management Committee of the Upper Clutha Lakes Trust established to at least maintain or improve our pristine waterways and lakes.

A key member of the Shaping our Future Upper Clutha Transport Report incorporating land, air and water transport completed in 2017.

He is Director/Chairman of various public and private companies including Lakes Leisure a QLDC CCO (Council Controlled Organisation).

Mike and Janey love the Upper Clutha area as do their children and grandchildren and want to see it developed in a sensible and sustainable way for the long term future. 

Mark Morrison

Mark Morrison portraitMark has lived in Wanaka since 1994 where he went to Mount Aspiring College.

He has worked as a mountain guide from 1994 to 2015.

Currently runs Wildwire, an adventure tourism company in Wanaka.

Mark is Chairman for Lake Wanaka Tourism.

He has travelled and worked extensively around the world climbing mountains.

Mark is passionate about Wanaka and the Wanaka community.

Mike Toepfer

Mike Toepfer finalMike is Deputy Chair of the Ignite Wanaka and Districts Chamber of Commerce Inc, and has been an executive member since 2010.

He is a Director Aspiring Law Limited.

Mike moved to Wanaka January 2010.

He is a trustee of Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust, which puts on Aspiring Conversations and Festival of Colour.

Kathy Dedo

Kathy Dedo CopyKathy currently works as Facilitator of LINK Upper Clutha, a community development initiative connecting our community as it grows.  

She has previously worked in organisational development, change management, leadership and corporate communication in Chicago, London, and San Francisco.

Kathy is or has been involved on the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce Executive Board, Shaping Our Future Board, two school boards, Parenting4Life, Wanaka Alcohol Group, Alpine Community Development Trust, Wanaka Area Youth Trust, theatre and music.

She has called Wanaka home for 16 years and is actively raising three children with her husband. 

Kathy believes that engaging as widely as possible and working together across our community are key to maintaining what’s special about the Upper Clutha.

Mike Fisher

Mike Fisher final picMike loves working with people to create great places. He has worked for over 19 years in placemaking, urban regeneration and planning projects across New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

He has recently joined the Christchurch City Council as Team Leader City Planning after running his own small consultancy supporting government, the private sector and communities work together on various placemaking and planning initiatives.

He was also formally the Placemaking Coordinator and acting Manager of City Planning & Development, at the Adelaide City Council. Mike has qualifications in Planning and Sustainable Development and is a member of the international Placemaking Leadership Council, Planning Institute Australia and the New Zealand Urban Design Forum.

He is currently chair of Te Pūtahi - The Christchurch Centre for Architecture and City Making, and has served on the Property Council (South Australia) Mainstreets Committee.