A lifelong interest in fauna and flora, what used to be called “Nature Study”, when he was a child, stayed with John through his adult life. A science degree at Auckland was followed with a medical degree from Otago University. He set up his general medical practice in West Auckland where he had been brought up. John initiated and led the successful Ark in the Park project in 1999. Having bird species previously seen only on off-shore reserves in his beloved Waitākere Ranges was a thrill shared by the many others volunteering and working at the Ark in the Park.

Starting a second project, Habitat Te Henga, adjacent to the Ark in the Park with an aim of protecting wetland species and re-introducing pāteke (brown teal) has also been successful. With fellow Forest & Bird Waitākere committee member John Staniland, John Sumich had his eye on the 37-hectare block at 111 Bethells Road since 2006, ten years before it came up for sale after the passing of its longtime owner Henk van Steeden. Both Johns became inaugural trustees of Matuku Reserve Trust, successfully fundraising for the the acquisition of 111 Bethells Road to become Matuku Link. With Johns wide network in the community through his family connections, his and his wife’s GP practice and his many neighbours, almost all groups of visitors to Matuku Link will include at least one person he knows!