Wendy Allison – Managing Director
Wendy has been active in the field of drug policy since 2007. Educated in social policy and criminology with a focus on drugs at Victoria University, she began drug checking after the prohibition of “party pills” in 2008 when it became apparent that the now-illegal substance BZP was making its way into the illicit drug market after its prohibition. She started checking at music festivals in 2014.
“I grew up in Dargaville and saw first-hand the negative impacts of drug prohibition on people’s lives – problematic use not treated for fear of arrest, criminal records destroying careers, crime peripheral to the illicit market affecting innocent families. I developed an interest in drug policy and its impact on wider social issues, went to university to study it, and was horrified when I realised that the evidence shows prohibition has created more harms that it has solved. I strongly believe that we need a new approach, and when my involvement in event organisation showed a way that I could work directly to reduce drug-related harm, I knew I’d found my calling.
I am a mother of an adult child. Being a parent has a way of focusing your view away from judging what our kids should do and refocusing it on what works to keep them safe. I am heartened to see that parents are often the most vocal in support of our work. Most children will eventually be faced with decisions about drugs, and I aim to make sure their decisions are made with the best information available.”
Educational qualifications: – Bachelor of Arts (Social Policy and Criminology), Victoria University of Wellington, 2013.
Relevant previous research: B. M. Z. Cohen & W. Allison (2015) Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches: The effect of criminalising a ‘legal high’ in Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Sociology, 30:1. A cohort study of BZP users’ attitudes and habits pre-and-post prohibition, considering evidence for any ‘displacement effect’.
Relevant experience: Event Organiser (2007-2008), (2014-2017). Health and Safety Officer for Festival Event (2007-2010). Providing drug related harm reduction services including drug checking for local community (2008-present), at events (2015-present).
Dr Jez Weston – Deputy Manager
Jez has a background in materials science, science policy, and the role of evidence in guiding decisions. He works in investment, running research commercialisation funds for the government and as a general partner for a climate-focused venture capital fund.
When he’s not leading KnowYourStuffNZ teams at events, he assists Wendy, leads fund-raising, helps with media, and makes signs from plywood.
Educational qualifications: BEng (Materials Science), University of Bath, 1993; PhD (Welding) University of Cambridge, 1998; Grad Dip Com (Economics), Victoria University of Wellington, 2007.
Finn Boyle – South Island Manager
Finn started promoting harm reduction information and services because he felt he had to in order to keep his wider community safe.
He has been active in this area for 3 years, providing reagent testing services at events and in the wider community, disseminating information to his peers and helping out with running ‘Festival Safety’ workshops which include education around drug use. He has also been involved in providing care services or safe spaces at small local, and big commercial events. These spaces often deal with the results of uninformed drug use and they help highlight the need for an ambulance at the top of the cliff, which is what Know Your Stuff provides.
“Having a presence at events and being able to engage with people and provide testing & information services is one of the few ways that I have seen behaviour change around drug use that didn’t stem from a negative experience. The feedback has been universally positive and deeply appreciated which makes me know that this work has real value.”
Dr Andrea Knox – Data team lead
Andrea has a background in statistics, data science, evaluation and social research. She worked as an independent research and evaluation consultant from 2007 to 2019 and is currently a Senior Research and Data Analyst in government. Andrea has a PhD in Genetics from the University of Cambridge.
Andrea developed the KnowYourStuffNZ data analysis, survey and reporting systems and now leads our small team of volunteer data analysts.
Craig Kenney – Auckland team co-lead
When he’s not working with Know Your Stuff, Craig manages a sustainable forestry certification NGO. He has always had a passion for harm reduction and making safe spaces for folks to have fun and be themselves. He worked as a volunteer until eventually taking on the responsibility of co-manager for the Auckland region alongside Gwyneth. His time with KnowYourStuffNZ has been extremely rewarding and has given him yet another sense of purpose in his life. He looks forward to each event that KnowYourStuffNZ attends.
He loves to move and be active and his hobbies reflect this. On week nights he’ll in an aerial circus studio swinging on silks and on weekends he’ll be in some body of water swimming or kayaking. Of course he loves festivals as well. You’ll usually find him cutting shapes on the dance floor.
His formal education consists of a Bachelors in Marketing with a minor in statistics.
Gwyneth Bassett – Auckland team co-lead
Outside of drug testing Gwyneth is a Software Engineer, currently working full time as a frontend developer. She heard about KnowYourStuffNZ from her brother Fergus and as a long time lover of science and festivals it was a perfect match. In her limited spare time you can find her on the mountain, camping with friends or rollerskating around Auckland. She have a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering with first class honours from the University of Auckland.
Fergus Bassett – Wellington team lead
Fergus has been with KnowYourStuffNZ for three years, starting as a volunteer at festivals and more recently helping manage the Auckland and now Wellington regions. His background is in data science and programming. In his spare time he enjoys playing music, board games and festivals with friends.
Educational qualifications: Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Science with first class honours from the University of Auckland, Operations Research specialisation.
Anna Spurdle – Christchurch team co-lead
Anna has seen firsthand in her professional and personal life the harm caused by uninformed and misinformed drug use. She saw the value in the work we do while volunteering at festivals before taking on the role of Christchurch lead as the organisation expanded. We set up a Christchurch team in 2020 to work on having more of a presence in the City and wider region. She has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and a Masters of Health Sciences along with previous experience in laboratory roles to give her a foundation of relevant knowledge. In her spare time, you will find her tending her garden, skating, swinging poi and being in nature.
Yvonne Booysen – Media and Partnerships lead
Yvonne has a background in chemistry and geology, and currently works as a geospatial analyst/developer. She became interested in harm reduction when she discovered KnowYourStuffNZ about three years ago and has been involved ever since, both as an event lead in the field and behind the scenes managing relationships with media and key partners.
Rhiannon Davies – Communications team lead
Rhiannon’s been a communications and engagement professional for 15 years.
She got interested in KnowYourStuffNZ after studying sociolinguistics. She saw a chance to directly work language into effective harm reduction messaging that works through empowerment, transparency and evidence.
When she’s not cursing over content, Rhiannon can be found pottering in her garden, collecting memes, playing with her cat Monster, or making something out of one of Wendy’s sheeps’ fleeces.
Joe Thompson – Volunteer lead
With experience in grassroots sustainability, social enterprise, and volunteer coordination, Joe chooses to spend my time and energy on projects which uplift the values of Reciprocity, Authenticity, and Positive Change.
As National Volunteer Coordinator for Know Your Stuff NZ, Joe has introduced new systems, processes, and support for the volunteers who form our community, as well as assisting the transition to a more sustainable organisational model that has scaled up with growth.
His other kaupapa include composting and soil, kai rescue and community, poetry and creative expression.
New Zealand Drug Foundation
The NZ Drug Foundation is an NGO driven by the vision of an Aotearoa free from Drug Harm. They focus on providing information services, policy advice and lobbying for drug law reform.
NZ Drug Foundation has been working with KnowYourStuff NZ to promote drug checking as harm reduction, providing support through purchase of a spectrometer and logisitical help, and leading advocacy initiatives.
High Alert is New Zealand’s early warning system about dangerous drugs. High Alert is run by the Drug Information and Alerts Aotearoa New Zealand (DIANZ) who are supported by a network of health professionals and social services (both Government and Non-Government Organisations).