Sam the Trap Man

Hamiora Gibson (Sam the Trap Man), is a keen outdoors man, who has recently been selected as a semi-finalist for the Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the year awards. He runs the Eastern Whio Link conservation project – a 25,000ha hunter led project, run in partnership with Matawai Marae. This important project has recently been selected as a finalist in the NZ Biodiversity Awards as well as receiving Jobs for Nature funding. It incorporates Western Science and Matauranga Māori approaches to inform the management decisions. He is passionate about reconnecting people with the land and unpacking ecosystem services in a way that is easily digestible for people.

Our association started with Hamiora through a pair of Mercury Leggings! Early in 2021 he wrote to us:

“I have been wearing your Mercury leggings since 2013 and have only needed two pairs in that time period. They are amazing and the most comfortable and hard wearing thermals I have found and I’m in them every day.” – Sam the Trap Man

He needed a new pair which we sent to him along with a Power Dry Long Sleeve top which is now part of his ‘essential wear.

The Eastern Whio Link kaupapa was started by a small group of hunters who had watched our Whio (blue duck) slowly disappearing from the streams in the area we hunt. It started off as a hunter led conservation project, trapping stoats and fledging Whio chicks. But it quickly grew to be something bigger. We now have 7 educational organisations using the project as their classrooms, over 100 volunteers, and really strong relationships with Tangata Whenua. We are looking after many more species than just Whio; Kiwi, bats, Raukumara Tusked Weta, Hochstetters Frog and many smaller bird species are all part of the programme now. We have been selected as finalists for the NZ Biodiversity awards amongst other recognitions and are also starting to attract international media attention.

 But why do we do what we do and what motivated us to get started? Well I guess we just saw an opening, an opportunity to help and create a conservation project that was reflective of who we are as hunters and what we do as an East Coast community. On the East Coast we hunt and fish mostly to feed our whanau, that’s what it’s all about, gathering kai, feeding the whānau and enjoying every adventure along the way. We started the project just after the Tahr debate had kicked off and really felt that we couldn’t identify with the type of hunter that was being portrayed in the media at that time. We were fully aware of the damage deer and other species are doing to our Ngahere. In fact, they were directly outcompeting us for our traditional vegetables such as Kareao and Pikopiko tips. 

 We saw ourselves as hunters that were part of the ecosystem, part of a solution rather than the problem and we actively targeted hinds in an effort to lower deer numbers to reduce the impact of these introduced animals to native ecosystems. We saw ourselves as understanding ecosystems better than most people in NZ as many of our volunteers have science and biodiversity backgrounds. However,  we also knew that by sitting on the sidelines we weren’t helping anyone. So we decided to put our money where our mouths were and adopt the upper Waioeka Catchment as an area of land that we would start to look after. The Upper Waioeka Catchment is 25,000ha of predominantly public conservation land, with a world renowned trout fishing river running through it. There are red, deer fallow and wild pigs as well as  a smattering of really incredible remnant populations of natives.

 We wanted to create a project that reflected who we were and what our culture was. We hoped that creating a positive hunter led initiative would support the public to see hunters in a new light. We set about using our bush knowledge and matauranga Maori mixed in with a good dash of western science to identify key areas of interest. We used trout abundance and condition to identify good Whio habitat. It’s no secret that good trout country is good Whio country as they both need an abundance of insect larvae to eat. The fishermen in our community were more than happy to share their favourite stretches of river with us if it meant once again being able to see Whio bouncing down the rapids beside them as they fished.

We started to monitor deer impact by using traditional kai species such as Kareao and Pikopiko. These are species that we eat in the bush, in place of vegetables, because carrying in fresh vegetables isn’t practical. Possum impacts were measured using Tawa fruiting, while rat impacts were measured by the chew marks left on various fruit kernels. 

 In short, we created a project that didn’t subscribe to common conservation theory or other widely accepted methodologies. It came from us, our people and our ecosystems. In the first year, every pair of Whio we were supporting successfully fledged chicks who went on to establish their own territories within the project. We had now successfully tripled the known Whio population in these rivers.

 In the second year, COVID struck and more and more people, stuck at home, started to crave the bush and our wild places. They found their escape from reality  in the hills and rivers of the Waioeka and, in return, they chose to give back by volunteering for the Eastern Whio Link.

 I guess it’s this that drives us. We see the Eastern Whio Link, not as a conservation project, but as a vehicle to help people engage with their natural environments and a place to build ecosystem literacy through spending time understanding seasons and interactions between species. While there are some huge biodiversity gains that come from the project, the most impactful work is facilitating peoples reconnection to the whenua and to themselves. We host people from all walks of life, stressed CEO’s from Auckland, single mothers working three jobs, and kids where the classroom just simply isn’t the best classroom for them. The Eastern Whio Link lights a little fire in people to spend time in nature and regain balance in themselves.

Eastern Whio Link, is about supporting the ecosystems that support us, about doing some trapping and hoping that our efforts are enough so that we can continue to hunt, fish and forage in our wild places for generations to come.

You can read more about us here.

The Polartec® Story

One of the most significant events in the history of performance outdoor clothing was the arrival of knitted polyester Polar Fleece.

Two and a half times warmer for its weight than any natural fibre and absorbing less than 3% of its weight in moisture, it rapidly became sought after for being the most efficient   insulation layer for the outdoors. To this day nothing has topped it for thermal efficiency and fast drying ability.

Polar Fleece was the innovation of the Massachusetts company, Malden Mills. Branded Polartec®, this fabric was first released just a few years before Earth Sea Sky was founded back in 1990.

Fitting our commitment to using only the best fabrics for performance and durability an enduring relationship was formed between ourselves and the Malden Mills team.

Tragically in 1996 fire destroyed the mill. CEO and owner, Aaron Feuerstein, 70 years old at the time, could have walked away with the insurance pay out and lived comfortably. However, he chose to keep his 3,000 staff employed and paid and to rebuild the mill. Further, he continued to find a way to keep supplying his customers, even Earth Sea Sky one of his smallest, located on the other side of the world.

Sadly, Aaron Feuerstein passed away earlier this month in Boston aged 95 years.  David Ellis, Earth Sea Sky CEO noted our debt saying: ‘Earth Sea Sky essentially owes our existence to Aaron Feuerstein.’

The cost of his actions after the fire eventually resulted in the company filing for bankruptcy but Aaron Feurerstein maintained that though worthless on paper   the company was worth so much more.

Photo:The Associated Press. Aaron Feuerstein in 2003

Malden Mills did not patent the word ‘Polar’. Many inferior look alike products appeared under the generic Polar Fleece name. Malden Mills registered the term Polartec® and marketed their entire range under it. It was a clever rear-guard action – as Polartec® was seen as the only reliable quality brand amongst a multitude of copiers.

Polartec® continues to be the leading innovator, offering the best quality, performance, and durability for an impressive catalogue of outdoor fabric from base layers to outer waterproof protection and all the thermal layers in-between.

We frequently have customers visit wearing their Earth Sea Sky Polartec® garments that are 20+ years old and still going strong.

Liz, with her original Polartec® 200 jacket

As well as fleece we use the Polartec® base layer range of bicomponent (wicking and moisture dispersing) fabrics.

All Earth Sea Sky garments using Polartec® fabrics have the distinctive three triangle Polartec® logo sewn into the side seam.

From the other side of the world Earth Sea Sky salutes you Mr Feuerstein for your vision, sincerity and kindness.

David and Kendon, Arthurs Pass in Polartec® Power Dry® and Power Grid® base layers

Mask Information

Our Merino Story

Earth Sea Sky merino was introduced to our range in 2000. Its ability to be worn for ….

Face Mask Dispatch Schedule

Thank-you for your face mask order.

The announcement by the Ministry of Health on 6th August changing its guidance around face mask use in the community created an unprecedented number of orders on our website.

We moved quickly to increase production and by the weekend of 8th August, were confident we had this under control. The news of community transmission of Covid-19 in the Auckland region and the change in levels throughout New Zealand changed this. To our performance outdoor clothing company “avalanche” took on a new meaning.

We have increased production with new machinists added to the team. New staff have also been employed to prepare componentry, compile DIY kits, assemble information sheets, enter orders, answer emails and phone calls. We have been working 7 days a week since the 7th of August and production has been increased by 50 times since then.

Delivery Dates
Orders are currently being supplied within 2-3 days of ordering

Priority Orders
We are holding a small number of masks to accommodate those in a high-risk category or are travelling overseas.

If you have an urgent requirement please contact us directly by phone 03 3390126 or email

DIY Mask Kits
We are almost up to date with these. Orders are being despatched as soon as components are available.

We are grateful to Lanaco who have increased production and have been working hard to supply us.

Mask and filters
A mask with filter inserted will give you a high level of protection, close to N95 specification when resting. This is far superior to a cloth or disposable surgical mask. The filter should not be washed as this will decrease its level of protection. The mask is designed to be reusable. It is washable, fast-drying, durable and easy to breathe through.

Contaminated filters should be disposed of. The question is ‘how do you know?’
We suggest that in high-risk situations, where people are forced to congregate in confined spaces or you are in constant contact with new people, you dispose of the filter at the end of each day, wash your mask and insert the new filter. Where there is no community transmission, short intermittent periods of use and the environment is low risk, filters could be used for longer periods of time.

For multi-day filter use always follow correct mask-wearing procedures by cleaning hands before fitting your mask and not touching the mask once it is on. If you do, always wash your hands afterwards. On removing the mask and when not washing it, store it in a sealed container and wash your hands. Best practise is, always treat unwashed masks as if they are contaminated.

We have not been able to respond to all the emails and phone calls we have received or answer queries on social media with the speed we usually do.

We intend to catch up on this. Please accept our apologies for the delay you may have experienced.   We have hundreds of messages requiring a reply.

New Zealand Made
Our masks are the very best of kiwi ingenuity. The filter manufacturers, Lanaco, use a grown-to-purpose wool from Central Otago and we have drawn on our technical fabric knowledge to select a durable, fast drying, porous fabric that matches the porosity of their filter. Our masks offer good protection levels and unhindered breathability and our product is the combination of four New Zealand manufacturers involving filter fibre blending and the construction of filters, elastic and masks.

We will continue to provide updates via our blog, facebook page and e-newsletters.

Take care,
Earth Sea Sky Team

Dunedin Pop-up!! 6th-21th June

A month later than usual, our Dunedin Pop-up is back!! We look forward to catching up with our southern customers.  Dunedin is home to the skilled workroom that makes our waterproof, primaloft and down garments.

Shop Detail

Address:186 George Street (next to north side of Farmers, opposite Bivouac)

Opening days: Saturday 6th June – Sunday 21st June

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am – 6pm & Sun 10am – 4pm


Our Store Staff

Jane, Queen of Pop-Up store

Mitsu, Intern from Japan




Kaitiaki Restoration – South Georgia


Martin Freeman and Kelvin Floyd work for Indigena Biosecurity International (, 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:

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.