Jobs at DOC: Kiwi ranger and rodent dog handler, Miriam Ritchie

Department of Conservation —  15/08/2011

Every Monday Jobs at DOC will take you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

This week we look at kiwi ranger and rodent dog handler, Miriam Ritchie:

At work:

Miriam Ritchie holding a kiwi

Name:  Miriam Robin Deans Ritchie

Job:  Kiwi ranger and rodent dog handler, Whangarei Area Office

Describe your role

I have two part-time roles: I monitor kiwi in the Whangarei Kiwi Sanctuary to gather data for a long-term study of Northern North Island Brown Kiwi, and do some predator trapping within the sanctuary. I also do surveillance and monitoring of New Zealand’s offshore islands and rodent-free mainland sites with my certified rodent dog, Occi. 

Miriam with rodent dog, Occi

What kind of work /projects are you currently involved in?

I am currently removing transmitters from most of our adult kiwi sample as our project is undergoing a major change from intensive kiwi monitoring to a community relations/kiwi vs. dog advocacy campaign. I am also spending a bit of time with my dogs in the Bay of Islands working on Project Island Song, hunting down a trickle of invading rats that are threatening the potential rat-free status of the islands.

What led you to your current role in DOC?

Hard work, Raoul Island, persistence and taking opportunities.

Taking a helicopter ride to Three Kings Island

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Bush
  2. Coast 
  3. Freedom

Three pet peeves

  1. Injuries
  2. Being late
  3. People trying to run me over on my bike

Miriam and Occi

Getting personal:

What three things do you always have in your refrigerator?

  1. Some greenery
  2. Cooked rice
  3. A half-eaten avocado

What was your favourite birthday present as a kid?

My first pony—her name was Kindy, and I had her ’til she died at 27 years old.

Tell us about your 15 minutes of fame

Hah, I think that’s yet to come.

Miriam with 'rodent dog'

What is your dream holiday location or activity?

A chunk of swimmable coast, some hills to sweat up and some dogs to chase.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Plant things, garden, ride my bike and explore with my dogs.  

What was the most useful thing that somebody once told you?

I don’t think anyone told me this but with hard work and the will, you can do anything.

Name a book and movie you would recommend: 

Wouldn’t presume to be able to do that, people vary too much in what they like! Although…

Occi staying safe in his high visibility outfit

Book: John Salmon’s Native Trees of New Zealand, despite being a bit out of date now, is a great reference book for anyone who loves the bush. Movie: The Flying Scotsman. 

If there was a competition for best place in New Zealand where would get your vote?

North Cape, Cape Reinga, Cape Maria Van Diemen—the tippy top of Northland.

And if there was one native species that ruled them all, what would be your pick?

Maybe the Kauri, being from Northland and all. They are pretty awesome in every sense!