Jobs at DOC: Heather Morison, Biodiversity Ranger

Department of Conservation —  27/03/2015

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 Heather Morison, Biodiversity Ranger in Turangi.

Heather Morison with a paradise duckling.

Responding to a whio rescue which turned out to be paradise duckling

At work…

Some things I do in my job include:

Helping to manage local pest control operations, assessing applications from external operators, working with local community groups to undertake weed control, survey and monitoring and pest control, and being ‘Mother Duck’ to the whio learning their skills at the whio hardening facility at Turangi.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Working with the wider community to achieve positive conservation outcomes, sharing knowledge with local communities to upskill others and help ‘spread the load’ of those undertaking conservation work.

The best bit about my job is:

The opportunity to learn from people keen to share, although sometimes the learning curve is steep and fast – such as with the whio hardening facility.

Heather Morison's colleague sleeping in a child's tent.

Teepee sleeping

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

During a recent weed surveillance trip in the Rangitikei River when a colleague mistakenly packed his son’s play tent in the shape of a miniature teepee to sleep in. He was able to fit just his head and chest inside – it is still providing chuckles every time I look at the photos. Luckily it didn’t rain!

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

My partner Paul Prendergast (previous staff member), his sense of humour, love for the job and surroundings encouraged me to join DOC.

Heather Morison with a team setting up predator traps at Ohinepango Springs.

Setting up predator traps at Ohinepango Springs

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know:

That I tagged on to a backpacking trip around Europe with my daughter, only to find we had booked into a brothel in Rome by mistake. I thought the noises from surrounding rooms were a result of food poisoning.

The song that always cheers me up is:

’These Boots Are Made for Walking,’ sung by Nancy Sinatra

My happy place is:

Ohinepango Springs in the Tongariro National Park or Waipakihi Valley in Kaimanawa Forest Park.

My greatest sporting moment was:

Watching the MotoGP at Philip Island last year. Romano Fenati is such an entertainer in the Moto3.

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

The release of all our whio ducklings from the hardening facility, ready to face the big wide world.

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

Be an undertaker, I have always wanted to try embalming and drive a hearse – my cousin has promised I can drive her hearse if she goes before me.

Before working at DOC:

I wore high heels and lipstick.

Heather Morison taking a break with Central North Island rangers.

Central North Island rangers in the lunch room

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“Perhaps they are not stars but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through” – Eskimo Proverb

In work and life I am motivated by:

Old age.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Let’s all work together to look after our wonderful country – at the end of the day, we need to stop making excuses – the buck stops with us.

Heather conducting weed surveillance in the Rangitikei River.

Weed surveillance in the Rangitikei River

Question of the week…

What’s better, savoury or sweet?

Savoury, because it’s sweet!