Spotlight on Tali Jellyman: Auckland Zoo

15th August 2013

When the Rotoroa Island Trust and Auckland Zoo announced they were forming a partnership to establish a wildlife sanctuary on the island last year, education was an intrinsic part of the project.

Here, we talk to Auckland Zoo's Tali Jellyman, recently appointed Education Coordinator (Rotoroa Island), about her passion for wildlife and her special connection to Rotoroa...

A surprise family conversation over dinner one night was a revealing one for Auckland Zoo's Tali Jellyman. It was then that she learned that her new role as Education Coordinator developing learning opportunities with Rotoroa Island was continuing something of a family legacy. Not only had one of her second cousins been a boatman on one of the island's vessels, but a great aunt and uncle had been Salvation Army managers on Rotoroa from 1979 to 1981.

This connection has given Tali a special appreciation of Rotoroa and its history. "I didn't know about the family connection with Rotoroa until this project," explains Tali. "Knowing that my family were involved with changing peoples' lives, that they helped people and that we're now involved in the renewal of Rotoroa, is very special. It's a continuation of what they were trying to do."

Tali, who's been with Auckland Zoo's education team since 2008, has an MSc in Biological Sciences and Science Education and is a science and biology teacher by training. A passion for animals and the environment led her towards her current role.

"I've always loved wildlife," says Tali, who wanted to be in a role that enabled her to provide educational experiences outside the classroom. And as Education Coordinator for Rotoroa, she's tasked with developing programmes for primary and secondary schools that engage with the island's unique heritage, restoration and its developing wildlife sanctuary.

"It's great to be involved with something new and exciting," explains Tali. "This is a significant project for Auckland Zoo and it's fantastic to be involved from the start, giving students the opportunity to have an authentic experience of restoration as it's happening on Rotoroa. Everyone involved with this project - the Rotoroa and the Zoo teams - are so committed to it and I'm really looking forward to sharing that sense of excitement with students."

Education visits to the island are scheduled to begin in term four this year. Teachers interested in educational opportunities on Rotoroa can email Tali direct at


Join Us

Want to keep updated with what is happening at Rotoroa Island?