Kaitiaki Restoration – South Georgia


Martin Freeman and Kelvin Floyd work for Indigena Biosecurity International (http://www.indigena.co.nz/), an ecological management company committed to the conservation and restoration of the world’s natural areas. These two New Zealanders spent this summer working on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic. 

Gold Harbour

Indigena Biosecurity International was contracted by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) to implement a non-native plant management strategy. This involves working around the island surveying and controlling invasive plant species.  They also undertook field work in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for the Darwin Initiative funded project Securing South Georgia’s native habitats.  This work involved monitoring vegetation changes, sampling the soil seed bank, and assessing seed dispersal to inform native plant and habitat management.


South Georgia has an area of 3,528 square kilometres, with mountains up to 3000m and with two thirds covered in permanent ice with many glaciers ending in the sea.  All work around the island is done on foot, with boats used to access the areas separated by the glaciers.  Much of the time they were based out of the King Edward Point research station, which is operated by the British Antarctic Survey. To get to many more remote sites however, meant staying in small field huts or working from a working from the GSGSSI fisheries patrol vessel.

South Georgia is well known for its extreme weather, so you need to be prepared for katabatic winds strong enough to take you off your feet, snow at any time or foehn winds taking the temperature into the twenties. They approached Mike from Earth Sea Sky for some decent gear for this year’s field season. Having good quality gear is essential to keep yourselves comfortable while working somewhere it can change so quickly.

Martin and Kelvin were both thoroughly satisfied with what they received from Earth Sea Sky. The Turbo Guide softshell jacket was worn every 2 out of 3 days (for 3 months straight) in all the different weather conditions South Georgia can throw at you. They were impressed with the range of temperature and conditions that the jacket was suitable for. In addition, it was perfectly compact and could easily fit into a bag during those rare hot days.  Having all those pockets was a bonus as well for keeping gloves, hats, phone, GPS unit, notebooks, and all other essentials easily accessible when working in the field.

Other Earth Sea Sky products used by Martin and Kelvin during their time in South Georgia, were the Power Wool base layers and Stealth pullover top, all of which were perfect for everyday use. Indigena Biosecurity International appreciates the products supplied by Earth Sea Sky and we are so pleased that our staff were able to have such quality gear to keep them comfortable in such extreme working conditions. 

Molten Red                           Charcoal                      Turbo Guide XTR Cheery

Stealth                                                                                        Power Wool                                                                              Turbo Guide

Face Masks Using New Zealand Wool Filters

Earth Sea Sky is no stranger to making gear that your life might depend on. For decades, our Christchurch-based company has produced outdoor clothing for the world’s toughest environments and has been a go to brand for Antarctica New Zealand and Land SAR. Now we have entered a new market of protective face masks using New Zealand grown merino filters. 

Behind the Mask Production

Our multi-tasker Jane Ellis started researching protective face masks just a few days into New Zealand’s Level 4 coronavirus lockdown, when the country’s shortage of PPE gear hit the headlines. Brenda, a skilled machinist and our long-time outworker, was keen to help too. From the safety of their own “bubbles”, the pair debated the merits of various designs and fabrics for everything from scrubs to masks and came up with ad-hoc samples.

Jane says they were well placed to respond when Auckland-based company Lanaco put a call out for manufacturers capable of producing face masks using its merino Helix.iso™ filters. Lanaco has been developing air filter media from purpose bred Astino sheep in Central Otago for about seven years; its filters are used for workplace health and safety purposes and for people to wear in countries with poor air quality.

CEO Nick Davenport says it seemed like a no-brainer to ramp up production to help address the need for PPE gear. “One of our staff members is from Hong Kong and was aware of a community mask programme there which had open sourced a design, but of course the main problem with making your own product is if a mask is just a piece of cloth it does not actually give you any protection,” he says.

“Our filter technology provides a really, really low breathing resistance plus the ability to capture dangerous particles. We saw an opportunity to help people in New Zealand by releasing as much filter media as we could and a design for a mask that actually works.” The idea was that a community manufacturing programme could provide an option for consumers who could not access products such as the N95. “We put feelers out and Earth Sea Sky was one of the first manufacturers to pick it up. They’ve been fantastic to deal with – they totally get it.”

Jane reflects that a good thing about being a small business is the ability to be nimble and adapt quickly; the downside is how keenly it feels the effects of disruptive events like Covid-19. “We feel a responsibility towards our workers and their livelihoods, so we were actively seeking ways to utilise members of our team who were keen to work. “We were contacted by Ryan Jennings from Buy New Zealand Made who said, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity’, and it sounded like a good fit. We design and make performance clothing, which protects people from the elements. A mask is just another protection layer.”

Two weeks after the call with Lanaco, Earth Sea Sky’s first Helix.iso™ filters Masks started rolling off the production line. Jane says having the right fabric was key to maximize the masks’ performance. “The downside of home-made masks is that many use cotton or merino which retain moisture. We needed a fabric that provided minimal resistance to breathing, dried quickly and was also durable.” Earth Sea Sky sourced a breathable, fast-drying polypropylene fabric using the expertise of its head honcho David Ellis.

We are now selling packs of two masks (one to wash and one to wear) for $59.90 and single mask packs for $44.90. Each pack contains seven filters, which is intended for a weeks’ supply in an environment where there is close contact with other people throughout the day, particularly those who may be vulnerable or sick.

 Earth Sea Sky recognised Lanaco’s intention to make its system available to as many in the community as possible, so to make its own masks more affordable, it decided to offer DIY kits containing cut mask pieces, nose wire and elastic with sewing instructions online for $9.90. A pack of seven filters is $25.

Helix.isoTM Helix.iso™ filters Masks would be ideal for work environments where close contact with people is required such as physiotherapists, rest home workers and taxi/bus drivers. The masks could also be worn by immunocompromised people during the ordinary flu season or in environments where dust is an issue.

Lanaco believes its filters provide an adequate level of protection, provided the wearer is not physically exerting themselves. It recommends carefully replacing the filter as frequently as practical and as often as one can afford to. Brenda, who produced Earth Sea Sky’s first 600 masks from her workshop before its factory had permission to start up again, says she was pleased to be involved in “something that counts” during lockdown.

Image may contain: one or more people


Jane says it was greatt to have a project to get Earth Sea Sky’s team of machinists back on deck. “Just keeping our factory workroom ticking over is huge for us,” she says. “I don’t think you can look after your community better than by giving someone a job.” Brenda, who produced Earth Sea Sky’s first 600 masks from her workshop before its factory had permission to start up again, says she was pleased to be involved in “something that counts” during lockdown.

About the Helix.iso™ filter Mask 

The Helix.iso™ filter  Mask combines a reusable mask body and a disposable, eco-friendly filter element designed to provide an effective filter for Covid-19. At a walking pace, protection is provided from more than 80% of dangerous particles. Helix.iso™ filter is a scientifically developed and proven respiratory filter system developed in New Zealand to protect respiratory health. Helix.iso™ filter was developed by Lanaco during the global Covid-19 outbreak to allow a system of replaceable elements to be used in a washable mask that is accessible for the public. A key feature of Helix.iso™ filter technology is its extremely low breathing resistance, which makes it easy to wear. Common FAQs are here.

About Lanaco 

Lanaco is a deep science technology company based in Auckland, which has spent a decade developing its organic/hybrid Helix.iso™ Filter media based on the science of DNA genetics from specially selected sheep flocks. The sheep it sources fibre from are bred in New Zealand to produce a unique and high performing wool fibre optimised for filtration. Helix.iso™ Filters are manufactured at the company’s Auckland facility. 


For more information

Earth Sea Sky Equipment Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

P: 033390126 M: 0210344082 E: jane@earthseasky.co.nz

COVID-19 Latest Update

We fully support the NZ Government’s declaration of a nationwide shutdown for all non-essential businesses that came into place at 11.59 pm on Wednesday night, 25 March, for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Open Online for Essential Items

We have registered with MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) to supply masks, thermal and waterproof clothing and insulated jackets. Orders are being processed remotely and despatched daily under COVID-19 Level 4 conditions (see below).
Online and emailed orders of non-essential items will continue to be taken. However, no despatch will be possible until after the lockdown is lifted. The original advice was that this would be in 4 weeks but we are mindful that this could be extended.

Masks, using disposable Lanaco filters, will be available the week after Easter. Supply will be limited to the filters available. Filters can be purchased separately in packs of 7. There is a pattern that can be downloaded if you prefer to make your own mask.

Gift cards are emailed and can be sent immediately.

Our despatch person is set up to operate in isolation and will be processing orders daily.

Other than this, we are working from home and can answer emails and clear any messages left on our office answerphone.

NOTE: We are only able to supply essential items within New Zealand at this time. Orders can be taken for overseas deliveries but despatch will not be possible until current restrictions are lifted and will also be dependent on the situation in the country the orders are being taken from.

Operating Under Covid-19 Conditions

New Zealand Government supply conditions for Essential non-food consumer products are as follows:

Businesses are able to sell essential non-food consumer products, provided they do so in a way that protects the public and minimises the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

In order to provide essential non-food consumer products, businesses must comply with the following conditions:

  1. Orders must be taken online or by phone only. Storefronts must not be open and the public should not be able to visit stores to select or collect goods.
  2. Orders must be for only essential non-food consumer products.
  3. In fulfilling orders, businesses must take all appropriate public health measures (eg physical distancing, hygiene basics, appropriate personal protective equipment for staff).
  4. Orders must be home delivered in a contactless way (ie there is no physical interaction between the deliverer and customer).
  5. The business must inform MBIE of its intention to offer essential non-food products for sale, and provide a list of the products they intend to offer. (See below for more information on how to do this.)


Our garments are made on-site, in our Christchurch workroom, in Dunedin and by a number of outworkers. We are in the process of applying to have our Christchurch workroom able to make masks.

Christchurch pop-up

We have put our Christchurch pop-up on hold. Once restrictions are lifted it is likely we will open again for a short time but this will hinge on the level of operation that is permitted. Meantime, thank-you to those of you who have supported us at the Pop-up, to those who have continued to order and to all of you for your interest in Earth Sea Sky.

While this is a difficult time for everyone, the positives are already evident for the environment, for the strength of local communities and for local made. These are all at the heart of what motivates us. Keep safe and enjoy getting into the outdoors, even if it is in a more limited way.


Christchurch Pop-up 2020 – Restart

Our Pop-Up Shop in Christchurch was shut after the announcement by the Prime Minister, Monday 23rd March, of the immediate move to Level 3.
With the move to Level 2, a restart is underway:

Dates:   Friday 15th May to Sunday 24th May
Hours:  Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm
Saturday 9am – 6pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm

Level 2 Protocols

  • Hand sanitiser  provided to be used on arrival
  • Register filled in for contact tracing requirements
  • Social distancing practiced in-store with key spots marked
  • In the welcome event of an influx of visitors, we may need to restrict entry and


Shop Location

Address: 23 Humphrey’s Drive, Ferrymead
(just behind Casual & Country, beside Metro Cafe, overlooking the Estuary)


Contact:  info@earthseasky.co.nz  

Our Store Staff

Jane, Queen of Pop-Up store

Mitsu, Intern from Japan

A trip of a lifetime into Our Far South

‘Our Far South’ is the land and ocean south of Stewart Island that either belongs to or has a strong connection to New Zealand. Gareth Morgan instigated the project to help make more Kiwis aware of the treasures on their back doorstep—our subantarctic islands and the Ross Dependency in Antarctica itself. His vision was to take 50 New Zealanders to see it all, prepare them with a series of lectures from experts on board, then let them loose to tell their friends and communities about everything.I was welcomed onto the team as a science communicator and joined by others including business people, engineers, environmentalists, a fisher, a diplomat, a regional council enforcement officer, a pilot and scientists. We travelled by sea on a Heritage Expeditions trip from Bluff to McMurdo Sound and back, stopping off at five subantarctic island groups. It took 30 days.

I made contact with Jane from Earth Sea Sky after purchasing some essential gear from Bivouac, who supported the trip with a generous discount to the crew. At Earth Sea Sky, from family members Jane, David and Michael Ellis,  I learned told me about the family connection with Antarctica.

McMurdo Sound with Mts Erebus (left) and Terror (right) in the background

“David’s father Murray was part of the team that built the original Scott Base and helped keep the tractors going on the way to the South Pole in the 1957-58 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.”

The expedition was a commonwealth effort and New Zealand was supporting the British team (led by Dr Vivian Fuchs, head of the British Antarctic Survey) who left from Shackleton Base on the Weddell Sea. Fuchs planned to travel across the continent via the South Pole and end up at Scott Base on the Ross Sea side of the continent. The kiwis put in supply depots for them from Scott Base to the polar plateau and were never meant to go to the pole, but Sir Edmund Hillary, the leader of the New Zealand party, decided to make a ‘dash for the pole’, despite being warned off by Fuchs and beat them to it.

Interior of Scott’s Terra Nova Hut – Scott’s cubicle

Personal highlights were visits to three of the historic huts erected by Scott and Shackleton more than 100 years ago, experiencing McMurdo Sound and Mt Erebus in silent icy beauty at 4 am and sitting on a beach surrounded by curious king penguins. Such moments have increased my sense of wonder for the natural world south of Stewart Island and why it deserves all our efforts to protect it.

My Earth Sea Sky gear was great. Of course, the Hydrophobia performed brilliantly when I got a good dousing on a zodiac boat, and the trousers allowed comfortably for an expanded waistline from the delicious cooked breakfasts and three-course dinners on board. Their garments made for Antarctica New Zealand kept many others of the crew warm and comfortable and was doing a great job keeping the staff at Scott Base toasty warm and looking good in the distinctive orange and black colours.

Sarah’s trip blog can be found at www.descipher.co.nz/ourfarsouth



Sewing together a family

This is a super lovely story about Manahel who is one of the very talented people who sew your Earth Sea Sky gear. She had an interview with the New Zealand Red Cross. Picture and article are from their website.

A low hum echoes across the floor of Elco Apparel in Dunedin. Everyone is focused on their work and the only sound is of needles repetitively punching through fabric, garments sliding across sewing tables and being adjusted under the needle, scissors slicing material, and occasionally a soft tap on the foot pedal to activate a sewing machine.

The buzz of sewing machines were new to Manahel, but she’s become very familiar with the sound since starting training as a machinist. It is a sound she has learnt to appreciate, one that reminds her how safe she is in New Zealand, away from the noise of bombs in Syria.

Manahel is a single mother who fled the war in Syria with her three young children. After living in Lebanon for nearly two years, the family was resettled in Dunedin three years ago. Life in New Zealand, and work in Elco Apparel’s workroom, has been life-changing for Manahel and her family. Manahel is emotional when she speaks of how her life has changed.

“It’s nice, safe, quiet, and with many friendly people. And Dunedin is such a nice city. I’m happy here,” says Manahel with a beautiful smile.

Initially Manahel focused on learning English, reaching an impressive level in a short amount of time. She then approached New Zealand Red Cross to help her find employment. Red Cross’ Pathways to Employment team in Dunedin and around the country work with former refugees like Manahel to support them in their career path. When clients are work-ready, the team actively looks for suitable jobs. This is how Manahel met Jane, Manager of Earth Sea Sky Manager in Christchurch, which owns Elco Apparel in Dunedin.

“We needed more machinists and unfortunately in New Zealand, our industry hasn’t been well supported and there is not the industry-base there used to be for training,” explains Jane.

“So we advertised and we didn’t have a great deal of success. We were also aware that for our future success, we needed to have young people and so we had conversations with Red Cross. They didn’t have any trained machinists available, but Manahel was suggested to us.”

Jane and her team were inspired by Nisa, a Wellington-based ethical underwear company started by a former Red Cross volunteer which employs former refugees as seamstresses. They understood a trained machinist was not available, so they would have to train someone themselves. After meeting Manahel, tasting her delicious homebaking and answering her many questions about the machines they knew immediately she was a great fit for the team and that training her would be worth the effort.

“Honestly, I don’t know how I did with these big machines, I had never used them. The first time I came to the workshop, I was so surprised and wondered, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to work with these big machines, I have never seen these before?’,” says Manahel.

Despite having to learn how to use these machines alongside a whole vocabulary specific to sewing, Manahel has been picking up the ins and outs of being a machinist very quickly.

“It’s been outstanding, in more ways than we could ever have imagined. She slotted immediately into our team: she’s an amazing worker, she’s picked up skills phenomenally quickly!, says Jane.

“Here we work on a percentage basis, so we hope that if you can get within 80% of the time that is set for a particular process, then we’re doing very well. Manahel has reached that within three months of being here, which is extraordinary.”

Tania who works very closely with Manahel, says she has exceeded all expectations.

“She’s learnt more than any other machinist in this short amount of time. Everything we’ve put into Manahel, we get twice as much,” shares Tania.

This is the first job Manahel has ever had, in Syria she maintained her home and supported her kids. Finding work in New Zealand has meant becoming more independent and it has brought a lot of joy to her children too.

“With this job, I feel like I am doing something good in life. And my children are so happy. They came to the workshop and had a very nice time here. They know all the team and the team knows them. Today, my son cried because he wanted to come to the workshop with me,” Manahel laughs.

“My children say that this place is my family!”

Manahel almost agrees with her children: she has found a family at Elco Apparel. Her colleagues have supported her and her family well above what was expected.

“The team has rallied around Manahel well beyond the team environment. That’s added something that is very special,” Jane says. “March 15 had a huge effect on Manahel and [her colleagues] organised a lovely lunch on the Saturday at the garden with everyone’s families. And they’re also helping with basic things at home, like sorting her heating.”

“She’s become an important part of the team here. Her smile is magical and we hope she knows she’s got a long future here with us.”

For Manahel’s colleagues who are working with her daily, Manahel is an inspiration. Her journey, her attitude in life and her warm personality has deeply impacted her team.

“I love working with Manahel because she is so friendly, so humble and she has so much courage.” says Shirley, another of Manahel’s colleague.

“And that’s what I love the most about her: the fact that she’s come here from a different country to New Zealand with her children and she just gets on with it and does it so well.”She makes me cry! Talking about her courage makes me cry because there is no way I am anything like that. That’s what I admire in her.”


Get involved
Many former refugees like Manahel are keen to get into work soon after they arrive in New Zealand. Our Pathways to Employment team works with employers across the country to find suitable candidates, matching skills and personalities. They can support the process with language training, induction and job interview. If you think you may have job opportunities for former refugees in your business, get in touch with our team.

Picture and article; the New Zealand Red Cross website

Merino T Pathway to Earth Sea Sky

Waitaha River/Ivory Lake Adventure

Warm enough in the Falklands?

Here at Earth Sea Sky we do a lot of in-house product testing. We also encourage people to give us honest feedback on their experiences with our products, which is exactly what Peter Carey did after using our Hydrophobia, Powerwool Zip-Polo Powerwool Short-Sleeve after his field work during Falklands winter!

“This latest field trip saw me eradicating invasive species from an island in the Falklands’ during the worst of the winter. As is typical in the subantarctic, weather conditions varied a lot over the month I was in the field. Temperatures were between – 3 and +4 C, while the wind ranged from moderate to gale force. Snow and sleet were not uncommon, and they came in horizontally on all but one occasion. Spreading rat bait by hand is physically demanding work as you are carrying a heavy bucket of bait while meticulously following a GPS transect. Regardless of how difficult the terrain or vegetation is, you have to stay on the correct line.


My Hydrophobia parka was my main armour against the weather and I never left camp without it on. It performed exceptionally well, shedding sleet and strong winds comfortably. In the worst conditions, I cinched up the cuffs and zipped up the hood for complete protection without loss of movement and vision. The Hydrophobia performance was no surprise as it has been flawless for me on so many expeditions, but what was new for me on this trip was the Power Wool Zip Polo and Power Wool Short Sleeve.


I wore the short sleeve next to my skin with the Zip Polo on top and didn’t take them off for 2 weeks. That’s two weeks of battling through tussock grass over 2-metres high, two weeks of hiking along the windswept cliff tops, 2 weeks of impromptu stops, resting with my back to the wind while fitting in a snack and some water, and 2 weeks of sleeping in a cozy sleeping bag. The shirts never came off for 2 weeks and they performed magnificently. The wicking properties were excellent and I noticed it was only the second layer that ever felt damp after serious exertion. Never the layer next to my skin. When I finally had a chance wash them, I rinsed them in a tub of cold water, wrung them out by hand and hung them on the line in a gale to dry. They dried quickly, despite the near-freezing temperatures, and were good for another uninterrupted fortnight of wear. These 3 Earth Sea Sky garments were the basic upper body clothes that kept me comfortable for a month of hard field work. Thanks very much for making such effective clothing.”


That is some pretty impressive product testing by any standard, and we’re chuffed here at ESS that our products were able to keep Peter in a good stead to complete his very value work.

Feel free to share your reviews with us on the website or email through your review with any images!

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