Jobs at DOC: Marc Slade — Nature Central Project Leader

Department of Conservation —  15/11/2013

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).

Today we profile Marc Slade, Nature Central Project Leader based in Wellington.

At work

Marc setting up a DOC200 trap in the backyard.

Marc proudly setting up his new DOC200 trap

Some things I do in my job include… working with staff across DOC and the three regional councils – Greater Wellington, Horizons and Hawke’s Bay – to develop projects that help meet Nature Central’s vision of a healthier more prosperous region where people live in harmony with nature.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision because… Nature Central is an agreement between DOC and the three regional councils to work in partnership to achieve better outcomes and greater efficiencies. It is a “declaration of intent” to seek ways of working collaboratively to achieve better results for our natural heritage. It is not a single “project”, but a kaupapa – an approach and philosophy to work together collectively to achieve shared goals.

Nature Central is a great example of DOC’s new operating model in action – working collaboratively with councils we are helping to achieve DOC’s vision. The goal of Nature Central is growing the impact of what we do by working with others, and working across whole landscapes at the scale of ecosystems irrespective of administrative boundaries. This is the way nature works, so we need to work at this scale too!

The best bit about my job is…  meeting and working with the great people in DOC and regional councils who are working to make New Zealand a better place to live – for both people and nature. I have the highest respect for the guys (of both genders), whether they work for DOC or council, who are out in the field “doing” conservation – whatever that may be – talking to landowners or community groups, running predator control operations or managing the amazing network of tracks and huts that New Zealand is blessed with.

The loveliest DOC moment I’ve had so far is… the welcome I experienced when I joined the old Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy team. Generally in DOC there is a sense of purpose and whanaungatanga that I have never experienced in any other public service organisation. I find this inspiring and humbling, and it makes DOC an awesome place to work .

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is…  probably the awesome Mr Darren Peters, Programme Manager (Future of Predator Control). Darren is totally outcomes focused, pragmatic, great at partnerships, gets the job done, is generally a cool guy – and is good company on a five hour drive in a DOC Hilux to East Taranaki!

Marc in the Ruahines walking to Sunrise Hut.

Marc on a trip in the Ruahines to Sunrise Hut

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that I… have started to do an improvisation class at Wellington High School (Centre for Continuing Education). And the moral of the story is…..(improv in-joke)

The song that always cheers me up is…“Oliver’s Army” by Elvis Costello or “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones.

My stomping ground is… Wellington City – especially Brooklyn and the Polhill Reserve area where I have started my own restoration and community trapping project – to do my bit for the halo that is being created around Zealandia. In terms of my turangawaewae it would have be South and West Yorkshire in the UK, where I spent most of my adult life. Yorkshire folk are remarkably similar to Kiwis in temperament (but a bit tighter!)

The best piece of news I’ve heard lately is… a bit old now…but when Meridian Energy announced they would not proceed with the Mokihinui Dam proposal. Result!

In my spare time I… run a community trapping and restoration project in my local reserve (Polhill/George Denton Park) to bring back the dawn chorus to Brooklyn. When I’m not doing that, reading, watching movies, watching cool TV drama shows (The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Killing…)

Before working at DOC I… worked as Terrestrial Conservation Programme Manager for WWF-New Zealand. Before that I worked for Wellington City Council’s Parks & Gardens team as Community Biodiversity Coordinator. Prior to that I ran my own consultancy business, Koromiko Consulting and worked in social housing and homelessness services – both in New Zealand (for HNZC) and in the UK.

Marc holding a recently caught muMarc holding a recently caught mustelid.stelid.

Trapping success!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” M.Gandhi

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… “Think before you speak….”

In work and life I am motivated by… my values – trying to be as true to them as I can manage.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… get involved in looking after the taonga that you treasure the most, whether this is in your own back yard or in a remote corner of Aotearoa (or even off-shore).


Marc with Aro Valley resident Jack at Wellington Pest Fest 2013

Question of the week…

What book are you reading and the moment, are you enjoying it?

I have just finished “Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding” by Guardian writer and environmental commentator George Monbiot – a great read, very thought provoking and beautifully written. This book should be the start of an important debate for conservationists in Britain and Europe.