MenuMain navigation

Meet our staff


Here are short profiles of some of the amazing people on board


Diana Macpherson

Kia ora tātou. Ko Diana Macpherson tōku ingoa. I am the Assistant Collection Manager of the NIWA Invertebrate Collection and a Marine Biology Technician at Taihoro Nukurangi (NIWA).

My role on this voyage is to support the benthic biological sampling section of the research program, that is, I sample, curate, and record the animals that live on or in the seafloor substrate. To examine and sample the benthic biology of the area around Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, we are using the Deep Towed Imaging System (DTIS) to video and photograph the seafloor, the multicorer to sample the seafloor sediment to see what is living in it, and the seamount sled or beam trawl to capture a sample of biology living on the seafloor surface. 

My role in these operations ranges from watching the DTIS video live feed and recording the observations in real time, to sieving sediment from the mutlicorer through a fine mesh to extract animals, to sorting through a sled or trawl catch to group the animals into taxonomic groups, photograph, curate, and record their data in our collections database. 


Grace Frontin-Rollet

My name is Grace Frontin-Rollet and I am a Marine Geology Technician and manager of the Geology suite of laboratories at NIWA. My area of expertise is marine sediment geochemistry, specifically trace metals and authigenic minerals. I also run a variety of sedimentological analyses in the laboratory.

On this voyage I am collecting observational data on trace metal concentrations around Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai and will use this data back on lab in New Zealand to ground truth future experiments on the leaching behaviour of trace elements from volcanic ash and affected sediments. I have also been sorting, describing, and cataloguing rock samples recovered from sites around Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, which has been very exiting with the variety of rocks we have seen from volcanic to authigenic types. I have also been supporting other science on board and lending a hand with multicoring, multibeam, and biology.


Jaya Roperez

I am Jaya Roperez, data manager of the South and West Pacific Regional Centre of the Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project that is hosted at NIWA.

On this voyage, my main role is to operate the multibeam echosounder (EM302 and EM2040) and the sub-bottom profiler (TOPAS PS18), process the multibeam data for bathymetry and backscatter, which then makes 3D maps of the seafloor. I’m also helping out with DTIS operations by creating maps based on the newly acquired data. When I am not busy doing that, I assist the scientists who are collecting sediment cores, water and biological samples. 


Rob Stewart

Hi, I’m Rob Stewart and I’m a principal technician with the Deepwater Fisheries and Ecology group based in Wellington.

My role on this voyage is varied, but I am mainly providing technical support for various deck operations. These include the sea surface sampling with the Continuous Plankton Recorder that we towed through New Zealand’s offshore waters on our way to Tonga and back. 

I have also been helping to sort the biological specimens captured from either the rock dredge or sled, as well as photographing some of the lifeforms found whilst they are still fresh to capture their full splendour. My main task is supporting the DTIS operation by observing the ‘live’ video footage of the seafloor: we simultaneously log the substrate descriptions (how the seafloor looks) and identification of any fauna that we happen to observe.

I also assist with taking water samples off the CTD and the processing of mud in several ways from the multi-corer.



Sarah Seabrook

Hi, I'm Sarah Seabrook, I'm a Biogeochemist. I study how interactions on the microscopic scale change the function and stucture of marine ecosystems.
On this voyage, I have been looking at how ash from the volcanic eruption has impacted important processes like food and oxygen production in the ocean. This has involved many experiments with water and mud collected around the volcano to understand how microscopic life present in the ocean has been affected by this major event.


Marine Biology Technician
placeholder image
Principal Technician - Marine Ecology
Marine Micro-Biogeochemical Ecologist