Farewell to Barry Lawrence, passionate conservation worker, advocate and friend

Department of Conservation —  16/12/2011

Every Friday 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.

Today we profile Programme Manager, Barry Lawrence, who died at home last Wednesday after a short battle with cancer. Never one to blow his own trumpet, we decided to do it for him…

Barry in the field with the mōhua he worked so hard to protect

An active member of the Wakatipu Environmental Society since the 1980s, two-term councillor with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, mayoral candidate, school teacher, dry stone dyker, shearer, DOC volunteer and most recently DOC Biodiversity Programme Manager, Barry’s contribution to the community and conservation over the last 30 years has been enormous.

As a councillor, he drew up the provisions of the 1995 District Plan controlling subdivision and protecting local landscape values. Out of the office he became a staunch protector of these values, spending countless voluntary hours preparing submissions and appearing at the Environment Court.

The importance of this work and the regard that Barry was held in was recognised in 2008, when he was awarded the Queen Service Medal for services ‘to local body affairs and the environment’.

Barry was a great teacher, shown here teaching colleagues how to mist net

The 1990s saw Barry unleash his passion for species and habitat protection, firstly by developing and staffing the first DOC volunteer mōhua and bat survey projects in the Dart and the Caples. Subsequently employed full time as Programme Manager Bio-Assets in 2002, Barry grew this work into much larger-scale pest tracking, trapping, treatment and bird monitoring programmes, the results of which we all enjoy today.

Barry and Ray Molloy at a local 1080 operation

Great examples of Barry’s relentless pursuit of restoring and maintaining the natural environment in the Wakatipu include protecting mōhua; saving bat habitat from development proposals in the Routeburn; getting a local power company to get on board with falcon research; demonstrating the importance of farm shrublands to falcon habitat; working with a local jet boat operator to fund research into black-fronted terns in the Dart and the Rees; and most recently developing a host of sites for kōwhai plantings.

Barry in his element – an evening filled with friends, stories, food and drink (and a giant haggis!)

In addition to all of Barry’s species and habitat protection, he also led the Area’s RMA advocacy work. With his considerable prior knowledge and skill in this field he was able to secure all manner of gains, large and small, through the process. The recent agreement with a Queenstown property developer to remove a 50 hectare block of mature wilding pines seeding the upper Shotover is a great example of Barry both seeing, and more importantly, seizing the opportunity.

A happy Barry – post beer and looking a bit woolly

Despite all of this work, it is many of Barry’s other more personal attributes that friends and family will remember him by – his ability to cut to the nub of complex issues (1080 being one), his big laugh, long hours in the field, a love of whiskey, beer, cider and Jimmies mutton pies, the DOC staff pig farming collective and his all together far too animated story telling (while driving) on dodgy trips up to Macetown, are just some of the many things we’ll all miss!

Put really simply, as Barry liked things put, he was good fun to be around. He is survived by his wife Pauline and daughters Rebecca and Meg and will be greatly missed.

Check out Barry on YouTube in this Shrublands Foodstore for NZ Falcon clip.

4 responses to Farewell to Barry Lawrence, passionate conservation worker, advocate and friend

    alanwilliampreston 06/03/2012 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you Barry . Your commitment and passion set the standard that we aspire to follow.


    Rest in peace Barry. It is hard to imagine Operation Ark, Project Gold and the DOC Wakatipu without you. Kinloch appreciated all that you were and all that you did. Thank you

    Paul Elwell-Sutton 18/12/2011 at 11:20 am

    Barry was one of the greats in NZ consevation. A truly passionate consevationist.

    Lynnette Ward 16/12/2011 at 8:59 am

    Definitely a trumpet worth blowing! Sounds a lovely man.