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 David Agnew, Conservation Services Manager, Dunedin.
Some things I do in my job include:
Managing a large team, working on multiple issues at once, trying to keep my desk tidy, my phone clear of messages, and my inbox under control. Also engaging with a wide range of staff from all over the country, plus engaging with a large range of partners, stakeholders and community. And having fun while I’m doing it all!
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:
Doing great conservation work, with others, and aiming to continually improve efficiency and effectiveness. Also I reckon it is really important that we portray a positive image of ourselves and our organisation. We’re lucky to have such interesting jobs.
The best bit about my job is:
Achieving some great conservation results, plus the mix of getting to a lot of different places and having quality time with a lot of different people (both DOC staff and associates). I have been able to live on Great Barrier Island for 3 years as well as Invercargill, and have worked in many amazing parts of this country from Northland, all of the New Zealand subantarctic islands (including the Australian island of Macquarie) as well as several trips out to the Chathams. Don’t ask me where my favourite place is because I’m not sure.
The strangest DOC moment I’ve had so far is:
Being on a boat getting transported off Kapiti Island with a whole lot of religious folk who were on a pilgrimage to bless the island. They stopped the motors at the southern and northern ends of the island and started to pray/bless and speak in tongues then when they started saying “the evil beast is amongst them and needs to be killed” I started to wonder if they were referring to me (that was the scary bit). I was relieved when the engines were fired up, everyone returned to a normal state, and we sped back to the mainland.
The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:
There are many. But Marian van der Goes springs to mind. She was an inspiring leader, strong principles, very good with people, and had a good sense of fashion and fairness. She is missed down here.
On a personal note…
Most people don’t know that:
I write the occasional poem for special occasions and then recite it (kind of like a cross between Sam Hunt and Dr Seuss).
The song that always cheers me up is:
“Not Given Lightly” by Chris Knox, you can’t help but sing along to it. And it reminds me of a fun night in Queenstown, at one of his shows, after a day’s skiing with Te Anau DOC staff.
My stomping ground is:
Around the Dunedin coastline, and especially the surf breaks of national significance along the north coast (check out the Coastal Policy Statement). If you are a surfer, then Dunedin is a great place to be – just need to invest in good wetsuits and accessories.
My best ever holiday was:
Sailing on a yacht from Singapore to Sri Lanka, then travelling overland through India for a couple of months. A memorable experience, to say the least. We experienced everything from pirates to water spouts.
My greatest sporting moment was when:
Perhaps when I was involved in giving some frisbee demonstrations at the world expo in Brisbane back in 1988. Either that or the wheelchair basketball games I was involved in for a while, great fun.
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is:
“You only live once” not sure where it came from originally, or “Carpe Diem” (seize the day), taken from a poem written in the Odes in 23 BC by the Latin poet Horace.
But I also like “Nek Minute” by Levi Hawken.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:
“Try not to have any regrets” – make the most of your opportunities.
In work and life I am motivated by:
Striving to do the best I can, being loyal to the above quote, and also ensuring there’s plenty of variety and that I appreciate and enjoy the experience.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:
“Think global, and act local” – everyone should be trying to make a difference in their own place.
Question of the week…
What funny story does your family always tell about you?
About the time that I was “seriously” stuck for words – they reckon it doesn’t happened that often, but this was “one of those moments when you wish you could disappear” and a valuable lesson.
At a garage sale we were having when leaving Christchurch for Wellington (one of our many DOC moves) a lady (wearing a see through skirt) had brought something and was paying me. I was sitting in a very low camping chair and was trying to decide if she was pregnant. I was certain that she was, so asked the inevitable question – “when is your baby due?”
The answer was, “I had my baby 20 years ago” – whoops.
Then she jumped in her car and disappeared up a driveway straight across the road – at least we were leaving town!
Needless to say, I’ll never ask that question again.
What an interesting and varied job you have. I really enjoyed your blog and stories. You have some great values. See me on page 14, May Wilderness magazine.
Warm regards Peter Vollweiler