Our committee

PRANZ is led by a dedicated team of volunteers, who are committed to supporting NZ’s Packrafting Community.

The committee is made up of a Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and general committee members.

Brendon Nevin (Chairperson)

I grew up in Wellington so my first river trips were on the Hutt River, mostly in tyre tubes. I progressed to the other rivers around the Lower North Island. Packrafting seemed synonymous with adventure. Made for linking routes, sports, land and water without being tied to any single one. I wanted to open up the map to new missions… and then proceeded to spend way more time than I thought on roadside rivers!

Now based in Wakefield, just 100km from Murchison. I try to get out where I can but often need to wait for rain to make the local rivers flow. I have also dragged my wife Julie and two kids (Rose and Griffin) along on a few trips.

photo of David Stephenson

David Stephenson (Treasurer)

Originally from Yorkshire, I arrived in Wanaka with my girlfriend in 2017 and it was such an awesome place we never left. My background is in data analytics, and after a stint of purchasing at Cardrona Ski Resort I now work for Mons Royale doing data-ry stuff. I was first introduced to packrafting when a friend took me down the West Matukituki. It was so good, within a week I was demonstrating my excellent budgeting skills by spending my whole winters savings on an inflatable boat. To reassure you, I do have a masters in Maths and Physics, so I’m usually pretty good with numbers. Now, packrafting is my go-to summer sport (ski touring in winter) so I’m keen to get involved, learn heaps and offer what I can!

Tom Waters (Secretary)

My paddling story began with Coast to Coast, then whitewater kayaking, before continuing to packrafting, thus completing my quest for progressively slower boats. 

I was drawn to packrafting on day four of a hard tramp. Sodden, chaffed and exhausted I trudged alongside a spectacular mountain river, and daydreamed of paddling instead. 

My favorite journeys involve long, convoluted approaches followed by hard whitewater. 

I still flit between packrafting and kayaking, which explains why I have no lightweight paddling gear. 

See you in an eddy somewhere!

Matt Kneesch

From Tauranga and from more of a motorcycle and jet-ski background. I have spent many hours on or in the water with various activities from diving, water skiing, surfing, windsurfing, sailing, jet boating. I have also done my fair share of floating down rivers in rubber tubes over the years including the lower Kaituna gorge a few times.

In 2021 whilst in the back of Muzzle Station on a two week South Island adventure motorcycle trip I bumped into a couple of guys with some funny inflatable things rafting the Clarence river. It seemed like an amazing way to see parts of the country and was the first time I’d seen or heard of a packraft so once back home I ordered myself a big Alpaka two person Forager for the family. After a few little trips  I then bought a single for my wife so we could all do a family trip down the Rangatiki. Conveniently this also meant I had a good whitewater boat for myself.

Deane Parker

Deane has a history of commercial rafting and kayaking having developed and operated adventure tourism businesses in Murchison and Hokitika. Now a farmer, father, and filmmaker, packrafting has featured in several of Deane’s Laurel award-winning films. A passion for connecting the community and sharing knowledge has led Deane to PRANZ and a desire to promote safe packrafting.

Dave Cassaidy

I was introduced to paddling by the OUCC when I was a student, and it immediately set me on the path to a lifelong passion for recreating on rivers. I fortunately get to spend a lot of time on the water through my work as an outdoor instructor / teacher, and I always love going on river trips with friends and family. Over the last few years I have added packrafting to my quiver of paddlesports because it unlocks new ways for me to explore rivers. I think the sport has great potential for enabling new paddlers to discover the joy of river journeys and I have an interest in contributing to the promotion of safety and skill development within the packrat community. 

Helen Nugteren

A newcomer to the committee who is yet to provide a blurb.

Helen lives in Arthurs Pass and has been a regular at PRANZ events for a few years.