Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile Neil Forrester, Team Leader on Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands.
Experiencing the power of nature
Some things I do in my job include… The core work on the island involves ridding the island of pest plant species, which is done by grid searching areas of known infestations to hunt down the villains and remove them once located. We collect and propagate seeds of some of the ‘At risk’ species to release back into their natural habitat with hopes they repopulate the island.
I conduct rodent monitoring to ensure the rodent free status of the island is up held. I keeping walking tracks and roads open so we are able to travel around—vegetation grows very quickly up here so it is a constant battle! I also release weather balloons daily and record sunlight hours for the Met Service, take water samples from the caldera for GNS, and take air samples for SCRIPPS (Institution of Oceanograhy). We maintain the buildings and equipment and man the most northern part of New Zealand to protect it from pirates and other undesirables.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… protecting and enhancing the values of the island and ensuring it stays rodent free, thus allowing the once decimated bird populations to recover.
The best bit about my job is… everything. I get to live and work in paradise! Becoming part of Raoul history, working with a great bunch of people who love what they do and enjoying the banter on a daily basis with no mobile phone reception or shops. Bliss!
Our first view of home for a year
The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… I guess getting to work on the Poor Knights Islands after spending so long only getting to see it from water level, and yes it is one of the most awesome-est places ever. Especially with the guys I got to spend it with, plus I scored a chopper ride off on my last trip there. What a way to end (I should thank Graham Taylor for that one).
The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… all DOC staff who are passionate about what they do and do it for the love of the job rather than the money they earn. My hat goes off to you all. Without all the hard work that everyone does, New Zealand would be a very different place.
Battling the laws of gravity
On a personal note…
The song that always cheers me up is… anything by Manu Chao. If you have not heard of them, get some and enjoy!!!
My greatest sporting moment was when…ever I get in the water to go surfing—and the waves aren’t bad up here either.
In my spare time I… surf, snorkel, explore the island and take photographs.
My secret indulgence is… branston pickle. No cheese sandwich is complete without it but most people who know me will know that!
Before working at DOC I… was a diving instructor on Poor Knights Island.
Horsing around on the Poor Knights
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is… Love the life you live, live the life you love (Bob Marley).
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… just give it your best and always have fun!
In work and life I am motivated by… fun. Everything in life should have a little fun associated with it.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… try to protect what we have today so we can enjoy it tomorrow and the day after. Even if whatever you do is something small, it all makes a difference.
Stranded on a deserted island
Question of the week…
You are about to be stranded on a deserted island, what three items will you take with you?
Firstly, I already am stranded on a kind of deserted island – there are only five of us.
My surf board
My current DOC team who make living and working on a deserted island a dream come true