The Trust

The Flying High Project is not-for-profit, managed by the Flying High Charitable Trust.
Meet our passionate board members.


Andrew Parker - Founder

Andrew is a commercial balloon pilot and global education campaigner from Hamilton. He wanted to be a balloon pilot since the age of six, and has flown commercial balloons in exotic locations around the world. He enjoys travelling off the beaten track, visiting new places and learning about different people and their cultures.
His passion for ballooning, travel and inspiring kids led him to start the Flying High For Kids Project in 2013 It involved driving around the world by truck through 87 countries, taking his balloon with him. He flew from schools and locations across the globe, encouraging kids to follow their dreams, and stressing the importance of education in order to achieve those dreams.
Andrew is now looking forward to helping Kiwi kids reach their potential through the Flying High Project and its educational programme.

Dr. Victoria Metcalf - Chairperson

Dr. Victoria Metcalf is a marine biologist and science communicator committed to making a difference. She has made many trips to the Antarctic, researching environmental change impacts on Antarctic fish and shellfish.

Her previous role in the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor as National Coordinator of the Participatory Science Platform, whereby communities, educators and scientists receive funding to work together on locally meaningful projects, was highly rewarding and matches her passion for engaging the public with science.

She is now working as the Iho Hapori Whānui External Engagement Advisor for the Royal Society. She has also been a steadfast advocate for women in STEM, and she balances all of this with being a mum to a busy, curious eleven-year-old daughter, especially exploration of the world around them together on bike and foot.


Sam Judd (MNZM)

Sam Judd is an environmentalist and sustainability educator. He founded Sustainable Coastlines in 2008, a charity which coordinates large-scale coastal and beach clean-up events as well as public awareness campaigns and educational programmes, and remained CEO until 2020. Sustainable Coastlines has worked with more than 100,000 volunteers on tree planting and coastline clean-up events.
He was instrumental in bringing together 144 organisations and 2,000 people for the construction of the Flagship Education Centre in 2017, through which Sustainable Coastlines actively educates New Zealanders on how to protect their local environment. The Flagship received the globally prestigious World Energy Globe Award in the youth category for its design and construction as a low-emissions and sustainability-minded building.
He has delivered more than 200 days of work with offenders on conservation projects and collaborated extensively with prisons to develop opportunities for employment pathways. He was the founding Chairperson of Pūniu River Care, which now employs 30 local rangatahi Māori and produces more than 500,000 native seedlings annually for restoration projects.
Sam was named New Zealander of the Year for the Environment in 2010, Young New Zealander of the Year in 2013  and has recently been made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit in recognition for services to the environment and sustainability education .

Shanandore Brown

Shanandore Brown is a promoter of STEAMM education (the second M includes Mātauranga Māori). She is a specialist teacher of technology at Papakura Intermediate School. In 2019 she facilitated an education program that saw her students create NZ’s first Māori Astronomically Aligned School Playground.

In 2020 she received a Teacher’s Study Award to complete a Master of Technological Futures where she explored ways in which emerging disruptive technologies could be used to enable the communication of live environmental data in a modern twist.

This includes the concept of projecting a 3D Digital Avatar as a ‘kaitiaki’ of a river system that is determined by live environmental data sourced from IoTs; giving nature a voice and a body. In 2021 Shanandore continues to pursue the advancement of Mātauranga Māori within the communication of environmental scientific data.

Elsa Wrathall

A Senior Manager within the PwC Financial Advisory team, with over 12 years of financial management and reporting experience within a number of industries across the Waikato including both charities and for-profit entities.  Having completed both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Management studies, she understands the importance of the STEAM learning approach and encourages growth and development.

She volunteers to deliver the PwC Financial Literacy Programme (FLiP) and reading the Toi Toi journals with kids around some of Hamilton schools.  When not at work, she enjoys getting outdoors riding her horses, hiking, snowboarding or spending time with friends and family. She was awarded the PwC Values award for Care in 2018 and the People’s Choice Award in 2020.

She is thrilled to be part of such a great initiative and looks forward to seeing the kids embrace the programme and get excited about the balloon of course!

Hazel McLaren-Swift

Hazel Mclaren-Swift currently works for the Ministry of Transport. A recent graduate, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Microbiology and a Masters Degree in Science in Society.
She’s passionate about science, and loves finding out about how the world works. She’s a strong believer in making science understandable and accessible for everyone.
Hazel was first introduced to Flying High when she completed a summer internship with the project, and found herself having a wonderful time. She’s excited to be part of such a great initiative!