Head of nature conservation department in New Zealand

Tortell was born in Sliema but has been a naturalized citizen of New Zealand since 1972. He was educated at the Lyceum and St Michael's College of Education. He obtained a diploma in physical education from Otago University in Dunedin. He lectured on health and education and on physical education to female student-teachers and also taught at the Naxxar technical school.

Tortell studied for a B.Sc. in zoology with London University. In 1970 Tortell emigrated to Wellington, where he has lived since. He graduated B.Sc. with first class honours in marine biology Victoria University, Wellington (1972).

Tortell read for a Ph.D. in marine biology (1972-76), with a specialization on mussel farming. After graduating, Tortell did consulting work on mussel farming for the New Zealand foreign aid programme in the Philippines, followed by a Fulbright fellowship in the USA.

In 1977 Tortell was appointed marine biologist with the New Zealand Commission for the Environment. 'nis job included doing environment impact assessments on coastal zones to advise the government on policy formulation and coastal resource management. During his eight years with the Commission, he also edited the New Zealand Atlas of Coastal Resources. In 1985 he was appointed executive officer of the New Zealand Nature Conservation Council, an independent advisory body to the government.

In 1987 Tortell was seconded to the conservation establishment unit to help design a government department with 2,000 employees from scratch and to advise on the department's science and research capability. Tortell, who was one of 2,000 applicants for the job, i was appointed head of the nature conservation department. He is responsible to eight direct, lorates, a staff complement of 200, eight woonal offices, and 43 district offices. This department includes looking atafter New Zealand's 14,000 km of coastline.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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