The ocean is a life support system for our planet – it provides 50% of our oxygen, has absorbed 90% of the extra heat we have produced, and can host thriving ecosystems of marine life. But climate change is affecting what’s above and below the waterline. Our oceans are changing, they’re heating up, becoming more acidic, and are at a tipping point.

Aotearoa is an ocean giant. We have the fourth largest ocean space in the world, but we only protect 0.4% of it. As guardians, it’s our role to look after, protect and restore it so that life can flourish.

Having seen first-hand through their sailing careers the interconnectedness of the world through the ocean, and realising the critical need to look after it, in 2019 sporting legends Peter Burling and Blair Tuke founded Live Ocean Foundation. It partners with exceptional New Zealand scientists, innovators and communicators to scale up action for a healthy ocean.

An example of research taking place is the documenting of kelp forest loss in Tīkapa Moana, the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. Beneath the surface the ecosystem is in crisis. A key tohu or indicator is the kina barrens that have become prevalent where kelp used to thrive. Live Ocean Foundation is supporting research into the significance of kelp forests and their regeneration. This research is led by Dr Nick Shears and Dr Caitlin Blain from the University of Auckland. The research is looking at how we can protect and restore coastal areas to encourage kelp forests to bloom and those ecosystems to recover. It’s also investigating how kelp forests contribute to carbon cycles, providing an exciting potential opportunity to quantify blue carbon.

“There is no option other than to act, together and with urgency to secure the ongoing health and productivity of the ocean.” – Sally Paterson, Chief Executive, Live Ocean Foundation (Speaking at the United Nations Ocean Conference, Lisbon 2022)

In 2022, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke presented a commitment of over 120 leading sportspeople and ocean communities to the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Thomson, at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. This is part of Live Ocean’s work to create a platform that amplifies the voices of sportspeople – calling for better global marine protection on the world’s stage. Here, Chief Executive Sally Paterson spoke to the conference on behalf of Live Ocean Foundation, presenting its work.

Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation’s journey with Live Ocean Foundation started two years ahead of Lisbon. With the combined talents of Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Sally Paterson on board it was clear that their strong leadership, diverse connections, experience and a shared global vision for the ocean could create much-needed kinetic action. Action that is required across government, business and communities. As an initial partner, Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation was able to provide catalytic funding to help establish Live Ocean and provide core infrastructure to set up and run the organisation.

As Founder of Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation and a keen recreational sailor, Ian Kuperus relates to Live Ocean’s mission. “The sea connects us all, we rely heavily on its prosperity and we are bound together to protect it. As a nation of voyagers and travellers who have made our home on a group of islands way out in the Pacific, our identity extends to the water as much as the land. We are all invested in its restoration, and I am inspired by the team’s urgent and considered progress at Live Ocean.”

By the numbers

As at October 2022




people reached


our investment