Jobs at DOC: Dan O’Halloran, Ranger – Biodiversity

Department of Conservation —  12/10/2012

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 Dan O’Halloran, Ranger – Biodiversity.

Name:  Dan O’Halloran.

Position: Ranger Biodiversity Bay of Islands Area Office.

Dan getting down and dirty on Mauima.

Getting down and dirty on Mauimua (Lady Alice) a few years back

At work

Possum in a tree.

The possum is public enemy number one!

What kind of things do you do in your role? 

I trap, poison and monitor possums and supervise other staff, contractors, volunteers and commercial operators doing the same. I monitor & supervise our goat programme; assist with species work including snails (flax and kauri) and kiwi; assist with our weed programme and run the Puketi Weedbusters group.

I work with various community and iwi groups and liase with adjoining landowers, especially regarding pest control issues. As an Area Warranted Officer I am mainly involved with hunters and dog issues, as well as vandalism and rubbish dumping. I am a boat skipper, a Rural Fire Officer and staff Health and Safety rep.

What is the best part about your job? 

Two things, the first are those moments when you come across something – a creature or view appears, or you notice plant in fruit or flower – and you know that you would never have got that experience if it weren’t for the job you’re doing. The second is when that happens, along with the realisation, that what you are seeing is a direct result of work done by yourself, your colleagues or our conservation partners.

Four flax snails sitting on a rock under plants.

Flax snails on (the imaginatively named) Snail Rock

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Seeing how well the pohutukawa are recovering in Pekapeka Bay.

The rule of 3…

3 loves 

  1.  My buddy Viv and all our friends and whanau.
  2. The natural world.
  3. Music.

3 pet peeves

  1. Vandals – why don’t you just get a life.
  2. Rubbish dumpers/litterers – ditto.
  3. Poorly informed people who think they have all the answers regarding pest control.

3 foods

  1. Rice.
  2. Plums.
  3. Dead creatures.

3 favourite places in New Zealand 

  1. The Whangaroa rohe, from Takou to Taemaro it is, like the man said, “a singular and beautifully romantic place”.
  2. Waikouaiti and East Otago, a wonderful place to grow up.
  3. Puketi Omahuta, if you’re talking biodiversity it’s the mother of all ngahere.
View from Whangaroa Harbour.

View from Whangaroa Harbour

Favourite movie , album, book  

  • Album – its a toss up between “Genius” the Warren Zevon greatest hits collection and “Enjoy Every Sandwich” where Dylan, Springsteen, Earle, and The Pixies etc. pay tribute to Zevon’s brillance, with an honourable mention for the Amnesty International  4 CD release “Chimes of Freedom” where 80 artists do Dylan covers. Some pretty amazing stuff, and if you buy it off the website your $40 goes to fighting injustice.
  • Movie – one of the best I’ve seen lately is “Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll”, the Ian Dury biopic starring Andy Serkis.
  • Book – Jared Diamond’s “Guns Germs & Steel” or  Tim Flannery’s “The Future Eaters”.

Deep and meaningful…

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

It dosen’t matter, I wouldn’t have taken any notice. At 18 I knew everthing and was totally bulletproof.

Who or what inspires you and why? 

My colleagues who keep on keeping on despite everything that gets thrown at them.

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


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

A conservation worker for the NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust, Kiwi Foundation, Puketi Forest Trust or some other NGO.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on? 

Switch things off – it’s that simple.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work? 

Use less paper.

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

If that day was 1200 or so years ago, I’d like to be a kauri specifically the giant Te Tangi O Te Tui so I could see what creatures roamed Puketi in its heyday, if thats not a real answer I’ll go for the Kahu because they’re cool (vote for the Kahu in the Forest & Bird poll – closes 10 October).

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

People—get out there and do it, it’s not enough to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.

Rata in flower on the Mokau ridge.

One of those moments – rata in flower on the Mokau ridge Puketi Omahuta

Please leave a comment – do you have any pieces of advice or messages that you would give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

2 responses to Jobs at DOC: Dan O’Halloran, Ranger – Biodiversity


    Hey Dan, good to have some news from you and to see you on the DOC newsletter. Such a surprise !! keep going in bay of island area, i like your answers!! french hello from jérôme, i’ve been volunteering with steeve 7 years ago……


    “People—get out there and do it, it’s not enough to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.” – this is so true! Let’s do our part, everyone! Encourage your kids to do the same too. One way to introduce them to the importance of environment conservation is through the use of Maddie & Matt’s Happy Earth. Indeed, let’s make this place a happy earth!