Jobs at DOC: Becs Gibson, Aotea/Great Barrier Island Ranger

Department of Conservation —  23/05/2014

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 Becs Gibson, Partnerships Ranger on Aotea/Great Barrier Island

Becs with rockhopper penguins on Campbell Island.

Becs Gibson with rockhopper penguins on Campbell Island

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

I work with conservation trusts to support the projects and initiatives they have; run events; develop meaningful education opportunities; and help the biodiversity team out when needed. I also handle permissions and statutory work, as well as being a fire recruit.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Forming meaningful partnerships that achieve more conservation, and making sure there is another generation to develop conservation into the future.

The best bit about my job is:

The variety. One day I will be meeting with the Local Board; next running a local event on the beach; next off to help the biodiversity guys monitor rats on the Mokohinau Islands—and that was just last week!

The funniest DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

Picking up Director-General Lou Sanson from the southern end of Mason Bay after he had spent the night away from our camp at Doughboy Bay, waving his arms wildly as the plane landed—priceless.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

There are so many, and I by no means want to exclude any of the wonderful people I have worked with—you are all inspiring and have enthused me in all sorts of ways.  But, without Lindsay Wilson’s guidance, I might have given up this gig a long time ago. He embraced the lighter side of the job and was a man of action, who definitely walked the talk.

Becs at the Penguin Bay Hilton hut/shelter on Campbell Island.

5 star accommodation on Campbell Island

On a personal note…

My best ever holiday was:

To another lot of remote islands, New Zealand’s subantarctics: Campbell Island, the Auckland Islands and the Snares/Tini Heke.

It’s amazing to see how Campbell has flourished after the removal of sheep and then rats, and the beautiful bountiful Snares with biota galore, the biggest Stilbocarpa I will probably ever see in my life!

I actually got there on an Enderby Trust Scholarship, which still operates.  A dream come true trip, so it was hard to beat!

In my spare time:

I spend as much of it as I can adventuring with my son: swimming, fishing, walking (can’t really call it tramping with a 5 year old) and then the stuff that sustains our life here: gardening, looking after chooks, killing the odd ruminator for meat and butchering it.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be:

A takapu, Australasian gannet. You would get to reside on some amazing coastlines, soar across the ocean and live a pretty egalitarian life.

Australasian gannet colony on Mahuki Island.

Takapu colony at Mahuki Island with Hauturu in the background

My secret indulgence is:

A hot bath with a glass of wine and a magazine—bliss!

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to:

Be back at university studying towards a master’s in freshwater ecology, and carrying out a thesis project in our beautiful awa/rivers.

Becs standing by Hope River.

Another beautiful South Island river!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.” – Confucius

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

“They’re not making more land—look after it.” My father said to me at a young age.

Left, Fanal Island with Aotea (Great Barrier) behind, and Hauturu (Little Barrier) to the right.  From Pokohinu in the Mokohinau group.

View from Burgess Island

In work and life I am motivated by:

People who stick up for what they believe in and walk the talk.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Reduce what you consume. Living on an island makes you very aware of the consumer based world when you go back to the mainland.

Question what you really need and ask if there are alternatives. Become better informed… live simply, laugh and love.

Becs holding her son on the deck of Mt Heale Hut.

On the fantastic Mt Heale Hut deck

Question of the week…

What words of wisdom would you give city folk moving to Great Barrier Island?

Be prepared for anything and everything—it’s a physical and emotional test!

And don’t bring your hair dryers, curling wands, electric blankets etc, they ain’t going to work—but then again you won’t actually need them.

2 responses to Jobs at DOC: Becs Gibson, Aotea/Great Barrier Island Ranger

    Peter Millay 09/09/2014 at 11:32 am

    Hi Becs, A great read, we will rember your help in getting us to the Top of Great Barrier.
    Will show Jake the Penguin section,
    Keep up the great work

    Peter, Robyn, Jake and Lucy (Gisborne)

    Paul Elwell-Sutton 23/05/2014 at 12:07 pm

    Nice one Becs!