Jobs at DOC: Arna Litchfield, Permissions Advisor

Department of Conservation —  11/07/2014

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 Arna Litchfield, Permissions Advisor in Hamilton.

Arna Litchfield with a New Zealand falcon / kārearea perched on her head.

I suspect this kārearea was disappointed when he realised that climbing to the top of my head didn’t really offer that much of a high point to survey from

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

Any business or organisation that wants to use public conservation land for their activities needs to get permission from DOC in the form of a concession. I process these concessions and advise people, both within DOC and the wider community, with information about the concessions process.

The best way I can explain the Permissions Team to anyone not in it is as a pivot point, which means that my role involves talking to a lot of people, pulling together information from internal and external parties, legislation, policy documents and a range of other sources, mixing it all together and producing a contract for the applicant.

Getting admitted to the Bar in June 2009

Getting admitted to the Bar in June 2009

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

I help people make the most of the conservation land that DOC manages.

Concessions are important because they utilise valuable land while still allowing it to be held as a national asset, and allows the general public to connect with conservation land in ways they might not otherwise be able to.

Where this becomes really valuable is when people start to identify with and take ownership of the land the concession is over, whether that’s a farmer who decides to work towards restoration of a wetland, or a huge recreational opportunity that reaches hundreds of people.

Arna in a kayak on the Whanganui River.

My sister, her fiancé and I did the Whanganui Journey in January this year—it was amazing. And I didn’t fall out of my kayak once

The best bit about my job is:

The people, without a doubt. The people I have met at DOC are just wicked people—always happy to answer queries and help out when and where they can. I love how much I have learnt since I have been here.

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

The queries we receive. I can’t say I have fielded all of these, but it gives you an idea:

We’ve had people ask about testing shark repellent surf boards; getting oil out of weka for use in paintings; and my favourite, whether it was possible to feed an amputated leg to a Great White, which he first had to get through customs from the United Kingdom.

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

There is no one person in particular. The people I have met here are people who are genuinely passionate about the work they do, and are more than happy to take the time and share their knowledge.

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is:

Arna in a white and orange striped dress sipping a drink with a white and orange striped straw.

You know you have your outfit right when you literally match the straws. This at a wedding in March—one of four I’ll be attending this year

‘Where the streets have no name’ by U2. Two of my favourite memories are my sister boosting me up so I could see the stage when this song came on the first time we saw U2 live, and dancing the night away with my mate Amy to this song when we saw them a second time.

My stomping ground is:

I’m a Waikato girl at heart. My parents moved us down from Waiau Pa to a dairy farm just outside Matamata when I was 16 months old and never looked back.

When I need a time out, I head back to the farm (and my Mum’s cooking), and just relax. Nothing beats taking the dogs for a run down the farm – it always works.

The front of the house looks out to wards the Kaimai Range, so when the family is home over Christmas, we tend to eat outside and take in the view whenever we can. And my flatmates always get a laugh when I get home and unpack all the stuff (usually fruit and vegetables from the garden) Mum has sent me home with.

My greatest sporting moment was when:

Firstly, coming fourth in the Rotorua Tough Gal competition (the 6 km version) a couple of years back. Considering how much I hated cross country as a kid, this might as well have been first as far as I was concerned.
Secondly, a friend of mine runs a bootcamp, which I joined up to this summer just gone. By the time we finished I held the record (having beaten the men’s and woman’s record) for longest prone hold/hover, clocking out at 13 minutes 5 seconds. A mate of mine told me I would need to train to get that record; I told him my stubborn personality was better than any training.

The best piece of news I’ve heard lately is:

That I am going to be an Aunty to a little girl in October. This year was already shaping up to be pretty awesome, with a few good friends of mine getting married and having kids, but to then add my big sister to the mix was magic.

Before working at DOC I was:

A private practice solicitor at a law firm in Hamilton, working on commercial and private conveyancing, wills, trust and estates, as well as the odd bit of criminal or family law.

Almost getting blown out of Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Almost getting blown out of Arthur’s Pass National Park

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” Eleanor Roosevelt.

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

From my Dad. Dad said to me once “no matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone who is worse off”. To which I have added from my own experiences “so be happy with what you do have and find joy in the little things.”

There are going to be times in life where things just suck and are hard and you have to deal with it. But no matter how bad you think you have it, there will be someone struggling just as much if not more, so be grateful for what you do have and find the things that make you happy. It won’t make the hard and bad bits any less hard or bad, but it does provide a bit of perspective and finding the joy in the little things can make it that much better.

In work and life I am motivated by:

The people in it. I am incredibly lucky that I have an awesome family and friends who will bend over backwards for me when I need it, and I try to do the same by them. People are what makes life fun and worth it.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

I’m going to borrow from Dr Suess here: “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

It doesn’t have to be anything major or epic, but start paying attention and caring because otherwise we will look back one day and realise it’s too late.

Question of the week…

If you were invisible, where would you go?

As I am writing this, I would be using it to get to Brazil and see as many World Cup games as possible without the expense of actually having to pay for them. Outside of this particular event, I would simply use it to go to all the concerts and shows that I usually go to, but not having to pay for them would do my bank balance the world of good.

One response to Jobs at DOC: Arna Litchfield, Permissions Advisor


    The amputated leg … that’s just … wow … I want to know the whole story!