Volunteer spotlight: Nigel Boniface

Department of Conservation —  22/06/2012

Normally on a Friday we take you behind the scenes and into the jobs of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

This week, to celebrate Volunteer Awareness Week, we shine the limelight on volunteer Nigel Boniface…

Early days at Donnelly Flat – 1st mustelid catch

Name: Nigel Boniface.

Job description: A volunteer!


What type of volunteer work are you (mainly) doing?

Pest control (rats, stoats, and possums).

How many days/months/years have you been volunteering with DOC?

I started as a hut warden (probably) 12 years ago.

How did you come to be a DOC volunteer?

It seemed to be a good way to get your own private lock up room, help spread the word to pay hut fees, and assist other trampers with weather, routes, and local knowledge.

Nigel at Lonely Lake Hut

What is your most memorable DOC volunteering moment?

One evening, when hut wardening, two children came in to the hut to say mum had fallen off the track. I found her with another parent—she had fallen two metres and had recovered consciousness but was very groggy.

A doctor from the hut helped to diagnose broken bones etc. I made a radio call to a fellow SAR member who called the Police, and they arranged for the Life Flight helicopter to come in late at night (it was like the movie Apocalypse Now) and take the injured woman to hospital.

Who/what else would you try being for a day?

A crew man onboard the International Space Station.

Nigel and kahutara school children planting trees at Onoke spit
Photo by John Roades

What is your favourite area of public conservation land and why?

Kahurangi National Park, it’s vast, there’s so much variety, and it’s usually so quiet.

In your ‘other’ life (when you are not volunteering), what do you enjoy doing?

Gardening and travelling (overseas or in New Zealand).

Where would we find you at 10pm on a Saturday night?

Heading for sleep, in a hut, a tent, a backpackers, or at home.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Being outdoors with friends
  2. New Zealand, after growing up in the UK
  3. Watching nature

Three pet peeves

  1. People who drop rubbish
  2. Those who turn a blind eye to pollution
  3. Poor drivers

Three foods

  1. Shepherds pie
  2. Fresh fish
  3. Almost anything someone else has prepared

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Movie – The World’s Fastest Indian
  2. Book – Michael King’s The Penguin History of New Zealand
  3. Album – Led Zeppelin II (very loud and just occasionally)

Nigel amongst a pile of rat traps getting cleaned
and prepped before going rat trapping

Deep and meaningful

What/who are you inspired by and why?

Volunteers in whatever endeavour. The country would be so much the poorer without them.

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

Every little bit helps, even if it is to just stop dropping litter.

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