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WReNNZ Conference Report Back 13 and 14th May 2023

Written by Bev Wilkinson – WReNNZ Committee Member



The 2023 WReNNZ Conference was held at the Auckland Zoo, a perfect location with great amenities and easy access and allowed us to visit the NZCCM (NZ Centre for Conservation Medicine) as a great finale to the conference.


This year's topic was "Rehabbers in Emergency Response", which was topical considering what many of us have been through with extensive flooding, cyclones, unusual weather conditions, disease and everything else the universe seems to be sending us, including climate change.


We had 53 attendees this year who were captivated by an incredible group of speakers. We are so fortunate to have these experts in our industry and on our committee who willingly share their time to bring awareness, give advice, and answer tricky questions. A strong message came from many of the speakers: the importance of collating data, accurate documentation and how to deal with the public and media in a highly volatile situation that comes with an emergency response.


Leanne Taylor and Jenn Rhodes from WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service Inc.) crossed the ditch to join us at the conference. Experts in dealing with wildlife emergencies, their presentations were "gold." WIRES is the WReNNZ equivalent in Australia.


COVID struck a few of our speakers, so unfortunately, they could not physically attend. COVID has made us experts in ZOOM conferences, so we could still deliver talks from Dr Kate McInnes, Carolyn Press-McKenzie and Rosalie Goldsworthy. We hope you are all well recovered, and we certainly thank you for making yourselves available while battling COVID.

Click here for the conference programme


Click here for speaker abstracts


A huge shout-out to our sponsors, we are truly grateful for your ongoing support of WReNNZ.

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Like most conferences, we never went hungry. Thanks to Jordan Rennie, our WReNNZ secretary, who organised lunches and morning tea for the two conference days. The meals were all vegan, and who would have known? Highly recommended, delicious vegan food by Tart Bakery.


To our committee members and conference organisers, we offer huge gratitude; it takes an excellent team to organise a conference of this calibre.


Thank you to Auckland Zoo, Mikayle Wilson and her crew for allowing us to use the zoo facilities. The venue was comfortable and very user-friendly. Thank you also to the zoo crew who guided us through the wildlife hospital.


On the conference's final day, we held our AGM and invited everyone to attend. The current committee members and office bearers agreed to stand again. We are super excited to have two new committee members join us: Annemeike Kregting, an excellent bird and a very experienced wildlife rehabilitator and Tracie Poole. Tracie is a vet nurse at the Wildbase Recovery Centre and a VERT (Veterinary Emergency Response Team) member. Tracie gave a great talk on VERT's role in an emergency and will also become a vital committee member.


Some Highlights for the WReNNZ year to share:-


  • The WReNNZ website has around 710 visitors a month.

  • WReNNZ's public Facebook continues to grow, with 934 followers.

  • Increased membership.

  • Online support group Zoom meetings.

  • Established our own Learning Management System (LMS) to enable us to host and provide training courses and share the recordings of support meetings and webinars with international organisations. Working with other organisations

  • We have maintained our relationship with WIRES in Australia, which we value and look forward to continuing.

  • Maintained our working relationship with DOC, Massey/Wildbase and SPCA and our ability to advocate for our members.

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