Jobs at DOC: Andy Glaser—Whio Ranger

Department of Conservation —  22/03/2013

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).

March is Whio Awareness Month. To celebrate this, we profile Andrew Glaser—Whio Recovery Group Leader in the Te Urewera/ Whirinaki Area Office.

Andy and dog Neo walking in Te Urewera National Park.

A walk in the park, Te Urewera National Park

At work

Some things I do in my job include… trying to be the best ambassador/leader for whio, to inspire people, motivate and provide quality technical advice that will achieve whio recovery across New Zealand.

Some of the other things; Programme Manager Biodiversity Assets/Threats, Te Urewera Mainland Island, Area Compliance Officer, Fire Response Co-ordinator Whakatane/Opotiki, North Island Species Dog Certifier and a Whio/Kiwi Dog Handler.

How? Great support from my manager and a highly competent team of guys and girls in the Te Urewera Mainland Island and whio recovery programme that have the same passion and drive!!!

The best bit about my job is… being “Caption Whio”, a caped crusader for the Whio Recovery Programme, I can legitimately wear my underwear on the outside, because I know I have the support of my loyal sidekick and accomplice Tim, aka “Duck Boy” Allerby! Seriously. The whio work; a 4.30 dawn start, watchin’ the sunrise, riding up the river on my horse Ziggy, the feeling of contentedness and familiarity of horse and his gate, the creak of the leather saddle and clip of his hoofs over the coble and rhythm. The river environment; cool fresh air, the smell of the bush and Te Waiiti singing over the boulders as it runs through Te Urewera. The enjoyment of watching Neo hunting the river’s edge in search of whio, stalking ever so slowly then locking into a full point. The whistle of the male whio calls carrying across the chorus of the river’s song followed by the rattley growl of the female protecting a brood of seven ducklings. That’s the best!

Also working with a whole bunch of like minded whiolks associated with the programme, and achieving the success we have to date has been whiotastic!

Andy on Kaharoa trig, Te Urewera.

Top of the world, Kaharoa trig, Te Urewera

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far has been… initiating the partnership with Genesis Energy through the Whio Recovery Group in August 2010. This has been the most significant national milestone for whio conservation.

Their sponsorship, marketing capability and enthusiasm has provided us with the resources to implement the Whio Recovery Plan to raise public awareness and achieve whio recovery across New Zealand.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… Dr Murray Williams. Murray was very inspirational in my career, demonstrating his dedication through 15 years of whio studies on the Manganui o te Ao river and his knowledge of waterfowl. He freely transferred his knowledge and taught me the tricks of the trade using his dry wit and sarcasm to keep me on my toes and always motivated. I guess I have tried to emulate these qualities through my career and similarly inspire and motivate people by encouraging them within their programmes and transferring the knowledge that I have gained over the past two decades (geez is that how long it’s been!).

Andy doing whio work in Te Urewera National Park.

Whio work in Te Urewera National Park.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that… I whakapapa to a line of American pioneers that settled in Nevada from Spain, hence my cowboy antics, love of horses and can do attitude. Ole’!

The song that always cheers me up is… I love music and there are so many songs to choose from, but this is a recent one that makes me smile. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

In my spare time I… love to surf! It’s like baptising the soul, cleaning out all the cobwebs, washing away worries n stress, while getting an upper body work out. Quite a magical spiritual feeling of freedom, harnessing a piece of Mother Nature’s power and riding clean open wave face. Oooooh yea. Sorry, only a surfer knows the feeling! This may explain why I like whio, they too like water.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… well, they’re all cool. From the cute little rifleman, to the hunters of the sky – the karearea, that scream through the sky at great speeds – and to the checky kea which some have likened me to. But if I had to pick, I would honestly say – yes, you guessed it – a whio!

That way I could play in the highest quality New Zealand waters, run some rapids, surf some standing waves, go with the flow and soak up the sun on a river bank. If bored, I could whistle, bite some tail, preen, dive, have a wrestle with the neighbour and keep an ever watching eye on what’s going on. Then, when feeling the need for speed, would take to wing and scream up and down the river at low levels like a fighter jet.

My secret indulgence is… I have a few: coffee, red wine (merlot), tequila, Mexican food, hot n spicy things, green salads, venison back steak bbq’d whole to m/ rare, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, fresh coriander and sexy… whio 😉 Got to love those lips, the only bird that has them. Haha even Angelina Jolie can’t compare!

Andy going for a surf.

Clean open face, oooh yea!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quotes …

“Time to Cowboy up” – My dad.

“Take a teaspoon of cement and harden up” – My daughter (we breed them tough) haha.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… 

“Even though it’s work Andrew, nobody says you can’t have fun along the way” – Jono Williams, Project Kiwi, Kouatunu Peninsula.

In work and life I am motivated by… the challenge to succeed, by my kids, with the desire to leave a lasting legacy for them and an example to follow. I am also motivated by strong, passionate people with a commitment for conservation, team unity, positive open culture and people with drive. People like the members of Recovery Group, who go above and beyond for the cause, hugely committed in their national roles for whio. I am motivated by every practitioner and by all the hard yards that each and everyone has demonstrated through their initiatives and dedication to get their whio recovery programmes up and running. The community groups – Friends of Flora, Wapiti Foundation – and individuals like Dan Steele who see conservation as a New Zealand identity worth preserving. Tangata whenua for their staunch passion for the whenua, the ngahiri, tikanga and toanga species that dwell within Aotearoa. The recent partnership with Genesis has given new motivation through their sponsorship to enable us to actually turn the corner in whio conservation and secure this iconic species.

Ooh and a great cup of coffee!!!!

A net full of whio fledglings caught by Andy for tagging.

A net full of whio fledglings

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… our natural heritage is your identity as a New Zealander and what makes you as unique as the whio itself is to this country.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? I feel like I’m invisible already, well at times! I would be quite mischievous, nothing deviant or illegal, not in my nature but probably pranking my friends, random people and have a laugh. Boo!

Whio Family Fun Day at Auckland Zoo!

Andy Glaser and some of the other whio rangers will be at Auckland Zoo this weekend for the Whio family fun days at the new whio enclosure. Bring your families along to check out the enclosure and to join in a variety of fun activities around the enclosure.

4 responses to Jobs at DOC: Andy Glaser—Whio Ranger


    Great work with the Whio programme and awesome profile Andrew. Just heading in with Dave for the week to try and get a good stag? May see you there? Will take a copy of your profile with me.
    Regards Brian


    Kia ora bro…awesome profile and I must say, very envious of your lifestyle. I am a big fan of Whio & Kiwi and I wish you all the best as you play your part in the conservation of our national treasures.

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