A tribute to Tiki the conservation dog

Department of Conservation —  24/03/2014

By Trudi Ngawhare, Partnerships Ranger, Gisborne

Tiki the conservation dog.

Tiki the conservation dog

Recently, we lost a “totara” for conservation.

Tiki the conservation dog passed away at the prime age of 11 (human) years.

Tiki was based at Motu, in the Gisborne region, with Ranger Joe Waikari and whānau.

He was a small Border Terrier cross who specialised in detecting mustelids (weasels, stoats and ferrets).

Ranger Joe Waikari describes Tiki as an “energizer battery, he never went flat”.

More travelled than most humans, Tiki’s work would take him (and Joe) all over the country: island work; in the back country… anywhere where extensive pest control programmes were in place, to ensure mustelid populations were gone from the area.

Tiki the conservation dog on a DOC boat.

Tiki heading to Mokoia Island, Rotorua

Tiki, was part of the Conservation Dog Programme. These detection dogs are trained to locate specific target species—either protected or predator. This helps the handler to capture and monitor protected species, or eradicate the pest species through trapping, poisoning or shooting.

Joe says the highlight in working with Tiki has been “doing our part in protecting our endangered species”.

Tiki was also a public relations specialist, winning over the crowds with his unassuming charm. He attended A&P shows and school talks, and he was a great advocate for conservation efforts with many children declaring that they wanted to go home to teach their dogs to be like Tiki.

Joe and Tiki doing training.

Joe and Tiki entertaining a crowd

Also a valued whānau member, Tiki was the champion in the small dogs category at the Matawai School Pet Day a couple of years running.

Tiki is a tribute to all conservation dogs that quietly go about their work (for cuddles and food), making huge gains for conservation.

He whakamaumahara ki a ‘Tiki’, he kuri o te papa atawhai. Moe mai e hoa, moe mai. A tribute to Tiki, the conservation dog. Rest easy friend, rest easy.

Watch this video tribute to Tiki but be careful of ‘dust getting in your eyes’:

9 responses to A tribute to Tiki the conservation dog


    My condolences to Tiki’s family and friends. I know what it feels like to lose such a great animal. Hopefully, he’s in a better place now.

    Richard Gillies 27/03/2014 at 12:07 pm

    Tiki was a graduate of the DOC predator dog programme, developed by a small and close-knit community of highly skilled and passionate conservation workers, and which has immeasurably improved the capability to detect and respond to island biosecurity incursions by rats, mice, and stoats. I didn’t know Tiki personally but I knew many of his four-footed colleagues. If we could come up with a ratio of conservation gain to body mass these little guys would be right up there. Condolences Joe and RIP Tiki.

    Yolanda Vogel 25/03/2014 at 1:29 pm

    So sad to hear this. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tiki on Kapiti Is when I worked for the Department. Joe my heart goes out to you and your whanau, and all who knew and loved this special wee guy.

    Irene Palmer 25/03/2014 at 4:04 am

    R I P ….our brave ECO warrior …….
    Irene …Norfolk, UK ….


    What a wonderful companion to work with,trusting,hardworking,loyal & lovable to boot! Oh that we had a species closely resembling him called “humans” eh Tiki….Nau mai haere mai,moe mai ata pou eh kuri Tiki…..arohanui…..to your whanau as well…


    What a beautiful tribute. Thank you Tiki for your years of service. Rest in peace and may the humans you left behind think if you fondly. I got dust in my eyes xx

    Bev.Wilkinson 24/03/2014 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you Tiki from all of us at Kiwi Encounter Rotorua


    Thank you for you hard work helping to protect our endangered species Tiki. May you rest in peace. Blessing to your whanau and co worker. I’m sure u will be dearly missed.


    My sympathy to Tiki’s family and friends on their loss. They have lost a friend and co worker. New Zealand had lost an Eco Warrior and protector. RIP Tiki xox