Meet the Instructors – Instructor profiles and sessions

To help you make sense of the program and to choose which session to take…there are four core on-the-water themes: Rescues, Paddle/boat manoeuvring skills, Ocean White Water and Rolling, then an alternative stream, then a dry-land stream.

Core stream

John Kirk-Anderson


John has been instructing sea kayaking for over 20 years and has high-level qualifications from both the British Canoe Union and the NZ Outdoor Instructors Association. He is a trainee-assessor for NZOIA instructors and was an Outdoor First Aid instructor with the NZ Mountain Safety Council.
A former soldier, he is a fitness fanatic and when not sea kayaking he trains in martial arts. He has been a photo-journalist for nearly 30 years, and has covered disasters and conflicts around the world, and earthquakes much closer to home! The waters around Banks Peninsula are his usual haunts, but he has paddled in many areas of New Zealand. A regular presenter at symposiums, Kirk-Anderson dislikes dogma and encourages paddlers to adapt skills, technique and equipment to suit themselves.

Body, Boat, Blade

A holistic-approach to kayak control, this class will check paddler’s connection to their craft, emphasise good body mechanics to maximise efficiency, and develop awareness of the blade.

This session is suitable for all levels and will be free-flowing across a wide range of techniques.

Mayhem Management

We’ve all practised rescues and got paddlers back in their boats. This class will now consider the other issues that surround that event.

Areas covered will include avoidance through planning and leadership, group management, treatment of injuries, and calling for outside assistance.

Shoulder Survival: Keeping these crucial joints safe, smooth, & strong.

R18: May contain nudity, graphic descriptions of injury and gentle mocking of participants.

Disclaimer: John Kirk-Anderson is NOT a medical professional!

Exercise-nut John Kirk-Anderson will discuss paddling techniques to protect our shoulders, drills to keep them functioning efficiently, and exercises to get and keep them strong.

Rob Howarth

At the age of 10 I was first introduced to the capsize drill in a canvas kayak.  Immediately I was hooked and with the Scouts learnt kayaking skills in the freezing water of North Wales. In my 20’s I explored the world of white-water in Britain and Europe before landing in New Zealand in 2001. As an owner operator of Canoe & Kayak North Shore for 15 years I learnt the ways of Sea Kayaking and Multisport – teaching and guiding throughout New Zealand – from the Yakity Yak Club, to  Speight’s Coast to Coast, to the school kids and eighty year olds… it’s been one hell of a ride! I now coach the Orewa College Multisport team with a view to their first school team entry into The Kathmandu Coast to Coast in 2018.

Hips Hips Hips!

If you are interested in Deb Volturno’s Ocean White Water session or any of the Rolling sessions then you should attend this session! Kayaking is in the hips so learn to become one with your boat. Rob will teach some simple exercises to help develop your hip skills and then you’ll learn to apply those skills – from simple bracing technique to turning and tracking your kayak in the wind.

Eskimo Rolling

The A team are back together – Rob and Pete Brooks have been teaching Eskimo rolling for a long time! Join either of them as either a complete beginner or someone whose rolling requires some tweaking!

Wing Paddle Technique – engage your core!

The wing paddle is a fantastic tool to teach great paddle technique – if you are all arms then this session is for you. Engage your core and watch your endurance go from zero to hero! This session starts on dry land before moving onto the water.

Demo Wing Paddles will be available.

Peter Brooks

Pete has been paddling most of his life, and has been instructing kayaking in one form or another for the last thirty odd years. In the most recent past he has focused on teaching rolling on Auckland’s North Shore. He learnt his trade on the canals and white water of the UK although has been a sea kayaking convert for the last ten years here in NZ.


Introduction to kayak basic rolling techniques starting with a confidence routine and building through old school techniques starting with Pawlata roll and on to many interesting variations as fitness and conditions allow. Learn to roll from the beginning or fine tune existing rolls. Build confidence with you and your equipment in a controlled environment.  Learn how to identify your preferred variation of this advance paddling technique.

Prerequisites: Confidence in the water, wet-exit practice, self and assisted rescue. Ability to work with others, to learn how to help and self-evaluate your and others techniques. A willingness to get wet!

Deb Volturno

Considers sea kayaking to be a way of life, which after more than three decades still holds her captivated.  Her passion is driven by the dynamic environment of where the sea meets the shore, yet she also embraces the meditative qualities of open water. Deb is an American Canoe Association (ACA) Advanced Open Water Trainer/Educator (Level 5) and Surf Trainer/Educator (Level 4).

Sea kayaking encompasses a broad spectrum for Deb, from exploring traditional history by building both Inuit and Aleut skin-on-frame kayaks, to being a competitive surf kayaker, and a member of the extreme kayaking group called the Tsunami Rangers.

Paddling adventures lure Deb to practically anywhere, from above the Arctic Circle in Norway, to parts of Central and South America, to New Zealand – where she lives part time in Gisborne – and there are no bears.  Deb’s other home waters are on the Pacific Northwest “Edge”, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State (USA).

Paula Renouf

Enjoys paddling many places besides her home waters in New Zealand, including extensively along the West Coast of the US and British Columbia, Canada, in Europe and Mexico.  Paula enjoys teaching kayaking to beginners, and has also assisted Deb with advanced trainings.  Two years ago she was awarded officer status in the Tsunami Rangers.

Paddling Ocean White Water in a Coastal Environment:

Introduction to kayak handling skills and strokes in moving water along a nearshore coastal environment – one of the most fun places to play and explore in a kayak!  Learn how to read the moving water, develop judgement skills, and practice controlled kayak manoeuvring.  Learn to identify safe zones, play zones, transition zones, and hazard zones.  We’ll be looking to utilize training opportunities in rock gardens, waves, surge channels, pour-overs, and more…!

Prerequisites: Wet-exit practice, self and assisted rescue practice, ability to paddle forward and backward in a straight line…and willingness to get wet! Please bring a helmet.

Luke Austin

Luke started messing about in boats at his Grandparent’s bach. The sea kayaking started about 20 years ago, one of his first trips was paddling round Lake Waikaremoana with his wife Diana. Subsequently the sea kayaks were changed to sit-on-tops as his children grew and he explored the many estuaries around Auckland. Once they were old enough the sea kayaks came back including a triple sea kayak. As an engineer, he has always been interested in knowing where he is in relation to maps and charts. Diana and Luke run a navigation exercise, the basic premise being ‘do you know where you are, and can you communicate that location to someone’ as an annual event on the Auckland Yakity Yak club’s training calendar.

Navigation for Kayakers

Most of our navigation is done purely by sight. In other words, we see an island and we paddle to it. Then we turn around and paddle back home. Trip done.  Sometimes things can go wrong and we may need to call for help, if so we need to be able to say where we are. How do you give your ‘address’ when you are in a sea kayak by a rock, off an island (which you cannot remember the name of)? In this session, we will practice calling for ‘help’, this will give people the confidence that they can provide the ‘address’ of where they are if required.

Peter Townend

Peter started paddling when his woodwork teacher agreed that he could build a kayak, rather than making a shoe box.  He was 12!  Since then he’s paddled all over New Zealand, playing and coaching canoe polo at home, in Australia and the Pacific Islands. He’s taught hundreds of kayakers to paddle skilfully, safely and many have become professionals, earning their living ‘outdoors’. His Whanganui River five day trips for 50 are legendary.
He built the Canoe & Kayak business and with colleagues he founded the Yakity Yak Club.  Peter combines business with pleasure, helping friends and community; currently he is passionate about protecting the Long Bay – Okura Great Park Okura Marine Reserve.

Self and assisted rescues

Rae Duffy

Originally from Hamilton NZ, Rae now lives in Sydney.  She holds Australian canoeing sea guide and instructor qualifications and is an active member of the NSW Sea Kayak Club.  While happiest out on the ocean with the wind blowing and a good swell running, she also competes in marathon events winning the Hawkesbury Classic and Murray marathon races on handicap in 2013.  Last year she crossed Eastern Bass Strait with friends, spent several weeks exploring Tasmania and paddling with members of the Tasmanian Sea Kayak Club and then paddled to the mainland solo via Western Bass Strait.

Efficient Forward Stroke

An in-depth look at the forward stroke, how to generate power for long hours without sustaining repetitive strain injuries to wrist, elbow, shoulder and backs. The focus will be on good technique for endurance, injury prevention, power and eventually speed.  We’ll spend some time on land with drills, explanations and checking out how you sit in your kayak and then more drills and personal feedback on the water.

Suitable for any level of skill and experience but aimed at those concerned about a niggling pain, struggling to keep up with a group or tiring after a couple of hours paddling or just starting out.


Alternative stream:

John Wilson

John (aka Fish Ninja) has been kayaking since his teens when the family built a canoe from plans in a magazine, and many memorable adventures followed. Paddling around towing a spinner while his son sailed in regattas rekindled the fascination with kayak fishing. In 2012, John became the founding Chairman of the North Shore Kayak Fishing Club, and remains an active member today. John shares his spare time between sea kayaking and kayak fishing. He manages Canoe & Kayak North Shore, and is Club Captain of the North Shore Yakity Yak Sea Kayaking Club.

Kayak Fishing

Intro to kayak fishing -Learn what’s hot about the sport, including clubs, competitions and sponsorship.

Review state of the art fishing kayaks, equipment and techniques – rods and lines, braid and fluorocarbon, real bait vs lures, soft baits vs hard body jigs, slow vs active jigging. Look at long lining from a kayak. Review and learn common knots. Share secrets on increasing the odds of catching fish including reading the signs, “secret sauces” and electronic aids.

Fishing from a sea kayak – inspect John’s Tasman Express in kayak fishing mode.

Practical fishing – an on-the-water fishing session led by members of NSKFC.

Nick Webb

A long-time yachtsman before discovering kayaking ten or eleven years ago. I have been active in the Auckland kayaking scene all that time, becoming a trip leader for Auckland Yakity Yak Club, organiser for International Kayak Week in 2010, and an organiser for a “Leaders leading Leaders” symposium in Martins Bay North Auckland. In 2008 I did a ten day club trip to Samoa and in 2014, with like minded clubbies, did a trip around the Gallipoli Peninsula for the ANZAC celebrations.

Over the last few years I have been developing my sailing skills in my Albatross Kayak.

Sailing for Kayakers

In my session of Kayak sailing, I aim to cover: the basic principles of how a sail works, how a boat moves through the water while under sail, the different types of sails for kayaks, their pros and cons. We will look at my sail and it’s setup on my kayak, the whys and wherefores. And if time and wind permit, a sailing demonstration.

David Welch

Since I started sea kayaking back in the early 90’s, I have paddled in many different locations, in many different kayaks and with many different people, both recreationally and professionally, in New Zealand and overseas. I have held SKOANZ and NZOIA qualifications in sea kayaking, and put time into training with the Canterbury Sea Kayak Network. My sea kayaking is now more a sport to me, rather than just a recreational pastime, and I have a number of kayaks that reflect this philosophy. The challenge is for me to get the most from myself and my kayak.

Leave the Rudder at Home

New Zealand sea kayaking has grown up “in front of the rudder”.  Ninety five percent or more of kiwi designed/manufactured boats drag some form of metal device behind them, and this is the style of kayak I was brought up with too. The alternative is a kayak that is designed to be paddled by the paddler and a skeg used as the assistant. I’m offering a practical session to help you lose that reliance on the rudder.

A Collection of Greenland Paddlers

Greenland paddling, using more traditional style kayaks and/or paddles, has become increasingly popular over recent years. More so overseas, but the proverbial “stick” is becoming the paddle of choice for more paddlers here in NZ. I’m offering a practical on-the-water session for like-minded GP users and other interested paddlers, to get together and talk Greenland paddling.


Dry-land stream

Joya Todd

Has been smitten with kayaking for nearly 10 years. She has been a Yakity Yak Leader for much of that time. She has a passion for bringing new people into kayaking and is very interested in how kayaking contributes to both physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Joya is a certificated Personal Trainer with a particular interest in moving the body mindfully and safely. But most of all, she believes it’s about having fun out there.

Maintaining core strength fitness and flexibility

Building core strength and agility is a central to protection against injury. Protecting against injury of shoulders and wrists through strength and good form are important in kayaking. In this session I will demonstrate and take you through exercises to help you build this.

Gerry Maire

 Built his first folding cruising kayak at age 15  the first of over 30 different kayaks he has  built  or owned.   Explored and took part in many early first kayak  river expeditions. Long distant kayak raced for many years (up to 160km).  Foundation member of the North Shore Canoe Club; made a Life member in 1981. Served on the Old New Zealand Canoe Association. Lead Dragon Boat teams to Race in Hong Kong and other cities in the 1980s. Sea kayaked with his wife on a number of World Adventures over the last 20 years. Still designing and building kayaks  today.

History of Kayaking in NZ

Kayak Fishing


Arne Pallentin

After starting kayaking (Grade Two racing) as a teenager in Europe I lost my track and besides occasional kayak tours did not get serious with the sport until my early 40’s. Outside of the more important aspects of life I’m a GIS manager and specialise in seafloor mapping, combining my two main pursuits in this session.

 Maps and Charts- how to make your own

In this session we will talk about maps for kayakers. From available commercial products, over free download maps and online maps, to self-made maps. Especially for the later New Zealand offers a large amount of good, free for download data from various sources. Here we will focus on the data available from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) on their data portal (, and how to make from this data your own, bespoke map for your next kayak tour using free GIS software. 4G coverage willing we will look at the online resources, otherwise fall back to canned data.

Neil Duffy

Originally from Matakana, Neil now resides on the south coast of NSW and has been kayaking for seven years. Originally planning to only paddle flat water, he has graduated to his first love becoming ocean paddling.  He particularly enjoys multi-day trips having been to the Whitsundays in north Queensland, Queen Charlotte Sound in the South Island, Ningaloo in Western Australia, Raja Ampat in Indonesia, Tasmania as well as numerous trips along the NSW coast. Neil has also competed in the Hawkesbury and Murray marathon.

Adventures in Paradise – West Papua.

When a paddler reaches a certain level of experience, the challenge becomes – how many of the great paddling destinations in the world can I experience. Rae and I are working through our list. This presentation will showcase a recent trip to the Raja Ampat region of West Papua. You’ll get details of getting there, kayaks, accommodation and potential trips available. If paddling around beautiful limestone islands, snorkelling over spectacular coral formations, finding Nemo and all his friends takes your fancy then this is a trip for you. If time permits I will include a few ‘tempters’ from our recent Tasmanian adventure.

Ian McKenzie

Says that each year he paddles he discovers more than everything he knew previously about what can go well and what can go not-so-well on the water. Lots of paddling and playing in the surf helps as do opportunities to pass on new skills to new people (or even new skills to old people) and to find out whether all will go as planned, or whether a plan is needed at all. Ian helped develop a trip checklist for the Canterbury Sea Kayak Network (forming the basis of the workshop), helps with the annual Okains Bay training weekend and is a member of the KASK committee.

Trip Briefing – Leading short trips

The session will be workshop style, people contributing their own experiences. The purpose of the session is to familiarise people with simple questions and techniques likely to make a trip enjoyable, either as a trip leader or person trying to decide whether to take part in a trip. We will cover: Trip Information and methods that might be used to establish shared/agreed purpose/duration of trip; Paddler ability, self-assessment, group dynamics, risk taking behaviours, size of group, health & fitness; Equipment; Briefing on the beach before departure, leadership/decision making responsibilities, what if a rescue is needed, what if the wind changes, staying together, or not.

Paul Hayward

Paul Hayward is a Mechanical Engineer with a passion for computers. Moving to New Zealand from his native Canada in 1982, he continued his work in Industrial Control and Automation Engineering. For the last 22 years, he has run his own business, specialising in database design and small business computing.Paul paddled canoes as a boy and sailed extensively in New Zealand; but during the last 14 years Sea Kayaking has become his major sport. Paul was a committee member for the 2004 Coastbusters Symposium and has been Chair for the 2006, 2008 & 10 events.

VHFs – When is a Cellphone Not as Good ?

Will aim to please both those who are contemplating a VHF – and those who already have one. Questions will be welcome. Second half of session will cover kayaking electronics in general – Beacons (PLBs, etc), lights, cameras, rechargeable batteries and solar. I’ve taken a deep interest in all of these during my 16 years of kayaking – and am still experimenting with cost-effective solutions.