Jobs at DOC: Jim Staton, DOC Ranger

Department of Conservation —  23/01/2015

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 Jim Staton, Services Ranger in Greymouth.

Jim clearing drains on the Prohibition Road, Waiuta. Photo: Gav Collis.

Clearing drains on the Prohibition Road

Some things I do in my job include:

Restoration and presentation of our heritage; advise engineers, planners, architects, rangers, the public, archaeologists, miners…you name it, on the values of, and how to restore and maintain, avoid or promote, the heritage of New Zealand.

I help the Services team out whenever possible, delve into the remediation of contaminated sites, and am involved in rural fire management through the National Rural Fire Authority’s National Incident Management Teams.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Providing advice on, and meaning to all of the above. Our industrial heritage is an important component of New Zealand’s growth and how we got to be where we are now. However, this is mixed with the need to deal to the contaminated sites that were incurred along the way.

The best bit about my job is:
The people I get to work with, my peers and mentors. Plus being surrounded by the forests, rivers and mountains, then there are the beaches and the sea.

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

Difficult to pick just one, but upon reflection, the completion of the Historic Lord Brassey Stamper Battery rebuild. When the last nut was tightened Dave Hawes turned to me with a grin and said “we knocked the bastard off”—with all due reverence to Sir Ed of course.

This was a project spread over four years, with one ton of fittings restored back to working condition (we re-used all but three of the original nuts and bolts), plus 20 ton of bulk timbers flown on site and installed. It involved 35 individuals in, at times, trying conditions—and a mass of paperwork!

Jim and Dave Hawes figuring out the finer points before starting the restoration of the Golden Lead stamper battery.  Photo: Graeme Richardson.

The restoration of the Golden Lead stamper battery

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

Too many choices and, as I have been around a long time, it seems unfair to pick one. So, I nominate all those who have worked, and still work for the Department—due to their efforts. I think we are well on the road to success.

On a personal note

If I could trade places with any other person for a week—famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional—it would be:

Another very difficult question. Peter Jackson comes to mind. Imagine being able to direct two back-to-back trilogies of a subject as complex—both in storyline and technicality—as the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. On top of that, promoting the mountains and high valleys of New Zealand.

The Lord Brassy Stamper Battery.

The Lord Brassy Stamper Battery just after completion

My best ever holiday was:

I would like to say with family, whom I have had great holidays with—but it has to be to China, in January/February 2002, with Paul Mahoney (DOC, Technical Advisor, Historic) and two others, chasing the last of the steam locomotives.

The thing I’m most looking forward to in the next six months is:

After seven years of working on it, to have two contaminated sites on the West Coast remediated.

At home and in my spare time:

I spend time with my wife Paula; catch up with Mum and Dad; our oldest son Chris and his family of four; plus we are now great grandparents—how did that happen?

Our youngest son, Allan, lives in Brisbane and we get over there to see him a couple of times a year.

In my spare-spare time, I’m into model railways. Other after hours interests include industrial history, advising community groups on heritage management, the garden, listening to a bit of heavy metal and going to concerts and wine/food fests.

Jim's family photo taken behind a motorcycle.

The family photo

My secret indulgence is:

A good Aussie Shiraz, or a dark beer, well, perhaps not such a secret.

Deep and meaningful

My favourite quote is:

“The further back you look, the further forward you see”, Sir Winston Churchill.

That quote relates to how battles are fought, the relevance to DOC is: read the old files before leaping into print—do your research.

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

From one George Jones, who was the Officer in Charge at the Totara Flat Forestry camp back in the mid 1960s: “Don’t be angry all the time, no one listens to you.”

After that sage advice I listened more and became more involved (I was 18 and rather unruly at the time).

Jim with Kevin Pearce preparing the Golden Point Historic Reserve stamper battery Tangye hot bulb oil engine for restoration in the DOC workshop in Oamaru. Photo: Helen Jones .

Assisting local staff with big restoration projects

In work and life I am motivated by:

People like George Jones—wise heads, but mostly by those that get things done, or at least try to achieve, nothing is achieved until one has a go at it.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Always consider our heritage, both industrial and the unseen. Just like the flora and fauna of our lands, once eroded or lost, that’s it, gone—photographs, reports, drawings and models (or stuffed birds) will never replace the real thing.

Question of the week

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

Probably an image that spurned my interest in history and scenery. Born in England I recall playing with my mates down at the Five Arches Bridge, spanning a slow moving river nestled in a small valley in parkland like surroundings. I was fascinated by this bridge, how did they stack them stones without it all falling in? I am still fascinated by bridges and how they are constructed.

2 responses to Jobs at DOC: Jim Staton, DOC Ranger


    Thanks Jim for your advise and help over the years. Great to have our industrial heritage restored and protected with your help. All the best John Gurney.


    Thanks Jim for standing up for our heritage and your sage efforts