Ranger for a day: a close encounter with kiwi and weka

Department of Conservation —  25/02/2013

By Trudi Ngawhare, Community Relations Ranger, Gisborne

Bobby Rangihuna-Harema, a high school student aspiring to be a farm manager, got the opportunity to be a ‘Ranger for a day’ at Motu near Gisborne after winning a Conservation Week competition late last year.

Ranger Joe Waikari setting a possum trap.

Ranger Joe Waikari showing Bobby how to set a possum trap

The Gisborne Herald gets behind Conservation Week every year. They were looking for a different angle and asked if we had a reader’s giveaway. The DOC ‘Ranger for a day’ was an initiative that we had always wanted to do, and this felt like the perfect opportunity.

Bobby, a 14 year old Lytton High School student who will enter a trade academy this year, was entered into the competition by her mum Jenny who thought it would be a good vocational experience. She saw it as an opportunity for Bobby to experience another view of Tane Mahuta (God of the forest).

“This is another area to have a look at when it comes to land management and farming,” said Jenny.

A full day was planned, with the first stop being a photo session for Bobby and her mum at the Gisborne Herald.

Then, after an hour’s drive to Motu, Bobby helped Ranger Joe Waikari track and complete a health check on Tom, a male kiwi.

Joe listening for Tom the kiwi’s transmitter.

Joe listening for Tom the kiwi’s transmitter

The work to address the decline of North Island Brown kiwi (and the protection of other threatened species within the Whinray Scenic Reserve) is part of an important recovery programme run by Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust (WECT), with support from the Kiwis for Kiwi Trust.

During a quick check on the weka traps, Ranger Joe was able to introduce Bobby to a North Island Weka.

Ranger Joe introducing Bobby to a North Island weka.

Ranger Joe introducing Bobby to a North Island weka

Finally, Bobby and Joe took a short hike on the upgraded Pakihi Track (part of the Motu Trails national cycleway) for a bit of native frog spotting.

Ranger Joe Waikari and Bobby checking out a Hochstetter frog.

Ranger Joe Waikari and Bobby checking out a Hochstetter frog

By the end of the day, Bobby was a very happy but exhausted ‘Ranger for a day’, who experienced three rare native species in one day that many never see in a lifetime!

Bobby and her mum praised Ranger Joe for leading them up long steep ridges and through thick bush…. No, not really, but it did provide for a humorous and entertaining hikoi (walk).

Thanks to Bobby and her mum for being such keen ‘Rangers for a day’; and to the Gisborne Herald for supporting Conservation Week and providing an awesome avenue to promote conservation.