Jobs at DOC: Jane Goodman, Freshwater Technical Advisor

Department of Conservation —  27/02/2015

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 Jane Goodman, Freshwater Technical Advisor in Nelson.

At work…

Jane hanging out with Chatham Island mudfish.

Hanging out with Chatham Island mudfish

Some things I do in my job include: 

Providing freshwater advice and support to anyone who wants it—DOC staff, the Minister, iwi, external agencies, community groups and the general public.

Most often I get questions directed to me on freshwater fish and the whitebait fishery, which can be anything from ‘how much does one whitebait weigh?’ to advising the Minister on fish protection or the whitebait regulations.

I also comment on permits, contribute to the threat ranking of freshwater fish, talk to schools and community groups, carry out surveys and monitoring.

Occasionally I also make giant kokopu costumes and wear them in Christmas parades, write songs or make galaxiid-shaped biscuits (in my spare time).

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Helping ensure DOC and others are doing the right work in the right places with the most up-to-date and relevant knowledge; attempting to make sure that detrimental effects on freshwater species and ecosystems are kept to a minimum; sharing and hopefully spreading my enthusiasm and passion for freshwater fish.

The best bit about my job is:

The variety. At times it is overwhelming, but it certainly keeps me on my toes and my brain stimulated.

The things I love most are being outside with my fishy friends in all sorts of freshwater ecosystems—from coastal streams to mountainous lakes; and the many different people I work with—there are so many people with so much character, passion, skill and intelligence.

Jane and the Freshwater Team.

The Freshwater Team

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

A recent field trip to Fork Stream with the Otago Fish Team. In the springs where trout are present there are very few threatened galaxias (upland longjaw galaxias, bignose galaxias and alpine galaxias) and where trout are absent there are piles of the cool wee dudes.

We took several electrofishing machines and carried out trout removal. Seeing the difference between sites, and then doing something to help these guys out, is probably the highlight of my career as a freshwater conservationist so far.

However, I must say there is a fair amount of time spent in the office and I loved every minute (or just about) of my time working in the East Coast Hawke’s Bay Conservancy Office. What a pleasure it was to go to work, even when I didn’t really feel like it, and be surrounded by so many dedicated, fun and caring people. That was awesome too.

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

I love working with or chatting to people who are really passionate (sometimes obsessed!) about what they do. It’s always inspiring and energising. There are so many DOC staff who fit this description which makes DOC a pretty unique and cool place to work I think.

Jane rugged up for field work in the deep south.

Rugged up for field work in the deep south

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is:

‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ by Spike Milligan. It always makes me smile and laugh except for once. I’m not entirely sure how it all happened but I had the Bad Jelly the Witch CD in my stereo when I was flatting at Uni. I used my stereo as my alarm clock so I could programme in a gentle song to wake to. I did not choose ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ at full blast but it happened. Evil flatmates I think.

Jane with colleagues at the Freshwater and Marine Conference dress-up dinner.

With colleagues at the Freshwater and Marine Conference dress-up dinner—a bit Eagle vs Shark!

My happy places are:

My family home with Mum, Dad, my three brothers and their families, swimming in the Pelorus River and Gisborne/the East Cape—on the beach or playing in the waves with my mates.

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

Not a person, but a shortjaw kokopu living in one of the big bouldery mossy streams in the Abel Tasman National Park. That would be glorious.

Native fish in a bucket.

Lots of native fish – that’s what we like to see

My best ever holiday was:

Every Christmas and New Year with my immediate and extended family (which includes my good friends). These tend to be in Nelson, the Abel Tasman and the Marlborough Sounds. These holidays are full of craziness, tasty treats, lots of talking and storytelling, swimming, tramping, fun and laughter.

This year a highlight was when we went swimming in Cleopatra’s pool in the Torrent River (Abel Tasman National Park) and I had baby banded kokopu and koaro nibbling at my knees—a pretty cool experience for a fish nutter.

My secret indulgence is:

A good mojito… or three—yum yum yum, but dangerous because they’re so jolly tasty!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

I have heaps of favourites, here’s one: “One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” AA Milne. This often applies to my desk.

Jane Goodman surf canoeing at Wainui Beach, Gisborne.

Playing in the waves at Wainui Beach, Gisborne

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

In relation to working in the great outdoors: “Janey my girl, never get separated from your lunch!” from the legendary John Adams.

In work and life I am motivated by:

The privilege of being closely involved with looking after (or trying to) New Zealand’s freshwater fish and the places they live, and having the opportunity to visit remote and untouched places that are not often visited by humans. Lucky.

These beautiful things motivate me to keep trying my best to make sure it’s all there in the future, both for intrinsic reasons and for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Other than that I am motivated by the love for and from my family and friends, fun, laughter, creativity, a bit of mischief and adventure!

Forks Stream.

Forks Stream

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

This is from a good book called Blessed Unrest. This is probably a bit deep, but this quote I think sums up my advice:

“The division between ecology and human rights is an artificial one, the environmental and social justice movement address two sides of a single large dilemma. The way we harm the earth affects all people and how we treat one another is reflected in how we treat the earth.”

Look after each other and the great outdoors. It’s fundamental to our health and well-being, neither are luxuries. Remember this in daily life.

Jane swimming in the Pelorus River.

Check out the colour of the Pelorus River – amazing!

Question of the week…

What was your favourite school subject, and why?

I was one of those children that absolutely loved everything about school, so no clear favourite really. But I do remember when I was five I used love writing and publishing ‘books’ because of the combination of writing and drawing or painting. Titles included ‘Looking after Tootsie and Jesus’ (about my neighbours cats!); ‘When I Grow Up I Want to Be … a Clown?!’; and ‘Mum’s Having a Baby’. This last one was about how I hoped mum was going to have a girl, at a time when I had two brothers already. I now have three brothers! They’re pretty cool.