The Whenua Iti Foundation

When you come on an ExpedNZ Program 100 % of the profit will be directed into the Whenua Iti Foundation. The foundation is governed by the Whenua Iti Trust, who governs the various operational arms of the organisation: Whenua Iti Outdoors, Whenua Iti Foundation and ExpedNZ.

The Foundation Explained

Experiential Education New Zealand (ExpedNZ) is the International arm of Whenua Iti Outdoors (est 1986). As the main operational arm of the Whenua Iti Trust, Whenua Iti Outdoors has been designing and delivering experiential learning programs to achieve positive change in individuals and communities for 35 years. Whenua Iti Outdoors works with over 2000 young New Zealanders every year and is one of the most well-respected experiential education providers in the country.
> View the Whenua Iti Outdoors website 

'Whenua Iti' translates from Māori to 'small piece of land' in English. Our site may be small, but we aim to achieve big things in the community through the Whenua Iti Foundation.


Whenua Iti Foundation established to support local youth

As a not-for-profit, Whenua Iti Trust is reliant on grants & funding. The Whenua Iti Foundation was established to make our funding more sustainable in the longer term, with demand for our programs being greater than our resources available. The foundation offers scholarships, programmes & events to enable individuals and communities to benefit from a connection to the outdoors.

100% of ExpedNZ profit used for 'good'

In keeping with the not-for-profit, charitable mandate of Whenua Iti Outdoors, 100% of any associated revenue generated through the ExpedNZ programs is directed straight into the Whenua Iti Foundation that is established for the provision of experiential learning programs in support of the youth of our region.

By supporting ExpedNZ you support youth wellbeing

The ExpedNZ revenue directed into the Whenua Iti Foundation is used to support youth wellbeing in our community. Sadly, youth suicide rates in NZ are among the highest in the OECD. Our programs are designed to promote wellbeing through being active and connecting with nature in the outdoors, building confidence and helping youth find new ways to learn.

The youth wellbeing outcomes our programs focus on are:

  • Personal growth and development
  • Increased educational achievement
  • Improved employability
  • Improved mental wellbeing
  • Increased physical wellbeing
  • Increased pride in culture and identity
  • A strong connection to nature
  • Contribution to community

Ignite: An example of the foundation at work

The Ignite Youth Development Program is funded by a local donor to promote leadership & personal growth in teenage boys when they start secondary school (ages 13-16). The program has been developed in partnership with a local high school and the Whenua Iti Foundation to inspire positive change across a mentored 3 year program.

Whenua Iti Trust Board Members

Our volunteer board members are selected for their commitment to our kaupapa, governance expertise, community knowledge and sector specialisations.

Pip Lynch, Chair

I've always been attracted to mountains, forests, deserts and other remote places. Being outdoors made sense to me; it allowed me to succeed in physical activities and fit in socially. I realised that other young people felt similarly and that lead to my involvement in outdoor education. I've worked as an outdoor instructor, school teacher (briefly), university lecturer in outdoor and environmental education, researcher of outdoor education, and volunteer member of governance boards within the outdoor education sector. My motivation is always to support opportunities for people to develop their own capacities for travelling through and living in natural areas, and for finding peace, inspiration and satisfaction from engaging with natural areas. When I first visited Whenua Iti in the early 1990s, I was impressed with the opportunities that the centre offered and I am still very impressed. It is a privilege to serve on the Trust Board

Phil Sharpin, Trustee

Kia ora koutou - As a semi-retired educationalist, I am delighted to be able to bring my 30 years’ experience in secondary/tertiary education and training to the Whenua Iti Trust (WIT). My relationship with the Trust and Whenua Iti Outdoors began about 1990, when I was the local manager of Skill NZ, and has continued almost without a break to the present. In August 2017 I joined the Board as a trustee. What motivates me to support and be part of WIT is my strong belief in the power of the outdoors to change young (and not so young) lives for the better. I’m a family man and my wife, Trish, and I are lucky enough to have all our children and grandchildren currently living in NZ.

Cheryl Heta, Trustee

The Whenua Iti Challenge Course I completed was one of my life changing moments that I will be forever grateful for.  So when asked to be part of the Whenua Iti Board, it was in a sense "Mana" and an opportunity for me to give back to an Organisation that will forever have a special place in my heart.  At the time I was a single Mum aged 48 raising two boys and in order to grow gorgeous boys you need to be a good, positive healthy Mum - Whenua Iti helped me do this. On the course we were asked to think about our goals. One was getting a good job and run a marathon at 50 in Paris. I did both! I am now a 56yr old,   still healthy and positive, employed by Rabobank NZ for 7.5yrs, with only one goal that I wrote down all those years ago left to achieve.

Jeannette Bent

Jeannette Bent, Trustee

Kia ora! I first became aware of Whenua Iti Outdoors (WIO), in the late 1980s when I worked for another provider of the then ACCESS Courses. My interest in WIO grew when I moved to the Moutere. In time, I enjoyed a memorable Women’s Adventure Weekend and experienced the magic of WIO first-hand! I have now been involved with the Board since 2007. Originally from England, I have a background in Tourism Management in both the Ski-industry & Cycle-Touring in Europe. I am a Mum of four adult children and became involved at governance level in various local Moutere community organisations as they were growing up. I bring with me a love of the outdoors as well as a strong interest in community & wellbeing. I am a Counsellor (MNZAC) & Professional Supervisor and support families in mental illness.

David Ross, Trustee

My career has been focused on equipment, clothing and rights for outdoor and sports industries and I have enjoyed building business throughout Europe, NE Asia, North America, Russia and Australasia. Specific experience includes international market development, distribution, marketing and product management. More recently, through my leadership position in a Crown entity, I have been engaged in conservation, sustainability, tourism and public - private partnerships. With a passion for wild places, I enjoy rock climbing, ski touring, hiking and rotary aviation. I have been fortunate to have climbed with many great people in stunning parts of the world and am proud to be involved with the outstanding team at Whenua Iti Outdoors.

Gareth Wheeler, Trustee

Gareth has variously been a student, teacher, paddler, cyclist, walking and sea kayak guide, educator, trainer and consultant throughout New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, North America and Europe. He is a national assessor for NZOIA and holds NZ and Australian awards across white water kayaking, rock, alpine, bush, ski, canoe and sea kayak. He has served on the NZOIA Executive, help develop joint awards and training schemes for MSC, NZOIA, EONZ, SKOANZ, Skills Active and is the recipient of the 2011 Tall Totara, NZOIA’s award for excellence in outdoor instruction. He has worked in a management or training role for SEHOPC, Outward Bound, Abel Tasman Kayaks, Tamarillo Tropical Expeditions, Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company, AATC and spent 15 years at CPIT training and educating the instructors, guides and outdoor educators of the future. Gareth has written safety reviews, conducted staff training events, corporate leadership training and safety audits for Abel Tasman Kayaks, The Sea Kayak Company, Outward Bound, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Tamarillo Tropical Expeditions, YMCA, Adventure Specialities, Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs and the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company. He has a Masters degree in Parks, Tourism and Recreation and is currently HOD of Outdoor Education at Motueka High School. “I believe in Whenua Iti Outdoors’ focus on relationships; people and place. Serving on the BOT allows me to ‘give something back’ to the industry that has supported me for the past 40 years.”

Whenua Iti Trust Staff

Nicki Bensemann, Minute Secretary

When I look back at the life changing learning times in my life, they are mostly centred around opportunities for ‘Experiential Learning’ in the outdoors. Times when I was really challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zones. These have included Outdoor Pursuits Centre, a Spirit of Adventure sailing voyage and more recently a trip to rural Nepal and trekking in the Himalayas. It is a desire to share this learning, to see and encourage others push into hard spaces, learning to become the best version of themselves, that gives me such a huge amount of satisfaction. As a teenager moving into the district I became aware of Whenua Iti Outdoors (WIO) and at various times my 3 now teen boys have all benefited from the programmes run here. As a newcomer to the position of Board Minute Secretary I consider it a privilege to be able to offer my enthusiasm, skills and 30+ yrs experience as a Chartered Accountant, Trustee and Board Secretary to this team.

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