Jobs at DOC: Jack Mace, National Integration Coordinator

Department of Conservation —  26/09/2014

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 Jack Mace, National Integration Coordinator in Wellington.

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

Jack standing with a local in Afghanistan.

Jack Mace (right) with one of the locals in Afghanistan

I provide a voice for Conservation Services in National Office (and a voice for National Office within Conservation Services) so there is a lot of working in with other groups within DOC to make sure that things are working smoothly and there’s coordinated and integrated decision making across the Department.

Thus far I’ve mostly been busy trying to align our business planning and reporting processes with the outcomes we’re trying to achieve—and make them simpler and more practical in the process.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Making sure we are doing the right thing in the right place at the right time, and that we’re working as one organisation. Finding opportunities to make things easier. Looking for risks and problems and trying to resolve them. Picking up the odd jobs that would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Jack Mace on a historic tractor.

Making the most of our historic heritage

The best bit about my job is:

Jack on a plot in South Westland – with Peter Doonan and Chippy Wood.

A steep plot in South Westland

Working across the whole of DOC’s work. I can see how it all connects together and where there are some big opportunities for us.

I get to work with a bunch of onto it people from all levels of the Department. Plus, I’m finally starting to understand the reason for some of the things that really bugged me as a ranger—like CAPEX, thirdly reporting, depreciation…

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

Putting a penguin in a wine cask (we were trying to work out a good way to hold it to take blood samples).

Or the time Dean Caskey, Glen Fyfe and I had to go and rescue hundreds of short-finned eels from a muddy dried-up pond in Taranaki. We got covered in muck and filled up two wheelie-bins full, which I’m sure is someone’s worst nightmare!

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

I could write a long list for this one—but maybe I’ll say Mark Martini from Hokitika. You won’t find a friendlier or more helpful bloke. Incredibly passionate about his work, knowledgeable about the bush and the ecological and social problems we face. He knows how to work within the system and achieve good results. And he has a good sense of humour to boot. Just don’t let him near the cooking stove…unless you like pie sandwiches!

On a personal note…

My happy place is:

Nelson Lakes National Park. I grew up skiing at Mt Robert aged 6 so it was my introduction to the great outdoors. I genuinely thought that screaming horizontal hail was normal alpine weather. It was also where I got my first job with DOC—as a stoat trapper—and where my wife Anneke and I got married last year.

Jack and others sitting high above the Whataroa Valley.

Today’s dining room, this time above the Whataroa Valley

If I could trade places with any other person for a week—living or dead—it would be:

Kupe. Imagine being the first person to set foot on Aotearoa—the things you would see before humans and rats and dogs and pigs and all the rest came along and mucked things up.

My best ever holiday was:

A climbing trip to Afghanistan in 2009.

I didn’t get up to much climbing, but we spend 5 weeks walking around the Wakhan corridor in the far northeast of the country. An incredibly remote and difficult place. The people there live a definite hard-scrabble life, but were some of the most friendly and welcoming folk I’ve ever met.

Everywhere we went we were greeted with cups of tea, bread, and a place to stay. And I think if we could import a few of their yaks and donkeys we could cut down on the helicopter bills.

Kirghiz camp in the Afghan Pamir, Tajikistan in the background.

Kirghiz camp in the Afghan Pamir, Tajikistan in the background

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

A falcon/karearea. Would beat walking around those hills, and I could specialise in taking out stoats and rats. BAM!

Alternatively, a kea. Mucking about in the mountains causing mischief sounds like a good life.

My secret indulgence is:

Sneaking off into the bush by myself to wander around exploring. I like to say I’m hunting but my serious lack of results lately suggests I’m subconsciously just after a slow walk on my lonesome out in the bush.

A New Zealand sealion pup dives into the water.

An example of our majestic wildlife on Enderby Island

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

Be semi-retired, focusing all of my efforts on restoring a patch of bush somewhere in the top of the South Island. Failing that, a professional spinner of yarns would be a good racket.

Deep and meaningful…

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

Listen more and talk less. Obviously I’m still working on this.

Helicopter hovers at Pelorus.

Hovering at the Pelorus “landing” site

In work and life I am motivated by:

People who are passionate about what they do, and are good at it. Talking to people like Jeremy Rolfe about plants or Nobby Robson about the Ruahines make me want to get out and do it.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Make the time to get out there and enjoy it. There’s not a single town in New Zealand that doesn’t have incredible natural places nearby (even Ashburton!).

Also the pleasure that can be gained from knowing a few plants and animals far outweighs the effort it takes to learn them.

Jack Mace and his celebrity lookalike Grizzly Adams.

My celebrity lookalike

Question of the week…

Who is your celebrity lookalike?

I’ve been told I bear a certain resemblance to someone called “Grizzly Adams” but I’m too young to know who that is.