Jobs at DOC: Opotiki ranger James Barsdell

Department of Conservation —  13/01/2012

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 Opotiki ranger James (Hemi) Barsdell…

James with a kiwi at Otamatuna - Te Urewera Mainland Island

At work…

Name: James (Hemi) Barsdell

Position: Biodiversity Assets Ranger (with a bit of other stuff too!). 

What kind of things do you do in your role?

Monitor weka, enhance shorebird breeding, work with the many dedicated community groups in the eastern Bay of Plenty, compliance work, fire fighting and whatever else needs doing.

What is the best part about your job?

The people and the environment.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Although I haven’t done this for a wee while now (as my increasing waist line can attest), lumping loads of gear throughout the hills. Oh and dealing with irate whitebaiters.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

An acknowledgement for the ‘Volunteer Smoko’ I helped organise with the local and regional councils to thank the eastern Bay of Plenty conservation volunteers for their great efforts in the past year. The event gave each group a chance to show case what they do and to network with each other. From the feedback we received it sounds like it might become an annual event!

The rule of three…

Three loves


  1. Family
  2. Hunting
  3. Seafood

Three pet peeves

  1. Being late
  2. Forgetting stuff
  3. “Gonnas” (if you don’t know what this means, someone else will)

Three things always in your fridge

Not very exciting here…

  1. Milk
  2. Butter
  3. The one year old half-eaten jar of pickles

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Maungapohatu
  2. The South Island high country
  3. The Bay of Plenty

Maungapohatu - a special placeHunting

Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie – The Shawshank Redemption
  • Album – The Eagles –  Hell Freezes Over
  • Book – Pack and Rifle by Phillip Holden

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Think smart and slow down. Faster is not necessarily better.

Who or what inspires you and why?

People who, against all odds, become successful or break the mould; and sunset or sunrise viewed from on top of a high hill.

Rafting the Motu river

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A helicopter pilot.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A surveyor.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

A New Zealand falcon, so I could enjoy the rush of tearing through the air at unbelievable speeds chasing prey.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Get active and get involved. New Zealand’s native flora and fauna is a big part of what sets us apart from other countries—it is part of our identity. We need to ensure we maintain our heritage for the future.