D-G Direct: An update from Lou Sanson

Department of Conservation —  08/06/2015

Queen’s Birthday honours

It was great to see the names of DOC people, past and present, in the list of Queen’s Birthday honours last week.

Congratulations to Brian Rance from our Invercargill office, who—with wife Christine (who has also worked for DOC)—received a Queen’s Service Medal for their services to conservation.

Brian and Chris Rance.

Brian and Chris Rance

Congratulations also to our past colleagues Terry Farrell (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) and Gary Aburn (Queen’s Service Medal).

Terry largely led the operational side of Battle for our Birds and Gary (also known as ‘Arab’) is credited with playing a crucial role in saving kākāpō from extinction, with the development of dogs working with wildlife.

Gary Aburn holding a kākāpō with dog Mandy.

Gary Aburn holding a kākāpō

Congratulations also to Peter Masters, former chair of the Tongariro Taupo Conservation Board, and Edward Ellison, a former member of the Otago Conservation Board and New Zealand Conservation Authority, on their honours.

Kiwi funding

We were delighted to receive new kiwi funding of $11.2 million in the Budget this year. This reflects our new strategic partnership with Kiwis for kiwi, which will see the money split equally between community conservation of kiwi in the North Island and large scale predator control for kiwi in the South Island.

Eventually we will see nine new rangers employed as a result of this funding, and one new science/technical advisor.

Brown kiwi.

$11.2 million of kiwi funding in Budget 2015

City sanctuaries continue to grow

Last weekend I visited the Zealandia sanctuary in Wellington with their CEO Hillary Beaton.

Zealandia has just recorded its first ever budget surplus and now employs 37 full time equivalent staff along with around 450 volunteers.

The sanctuary costs around $4.5 million a year to run with approximately 20% funded by the Wellington City Council and the remainder from trading operations, donations, grants and entry fees.

CEO Hillary Beaton at Zealandia.

Zealandia CEO Hillary Beaton

There are now 70 fenced wildlife sanctuaries throughout New Zealand and we have agreed to co-host a Sanctuary Workshop on 13-14 August (when Sirocco is based at Zealandia) to look at the increasing role sanctuaries play in changing the hearts and minds of kiwis and the impact sanctuaries make to conservation.

Sustainability works – Yealands Wines

Over Queen’s Birthday weekend I visited Peter Yealands in Seddon. Peter’s company has committed $100,000, over three years, for work on the Queen Charlotte Track.

Yealands Wines is one of the biggest employers in Marlborough and they have won many awards for their sustainability practice. They’ve completed a massive replanting programme, constructed 25 wetlands, and produce 50,000 tonnes of compost a year.

Peter and his team have a very strong relationship with DOC but, importantly, this money will be supporting community conservation.

DOC DG Lou Sanson and Peter Yealands.

Visiting Peter Yealands

DOC welcomes new senior leaders

I’m pleased to announce that DOC will welcome two new members to its senior leadership team in early July:

Deputy Director-General, Science and Policy: Bruce Parkes

Bruce Parkes.

Bruce Parkes

Bruce is currently General Manager of the Resources, Energy and Communications branch at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). His responsibilities in the natural resources sector include the Ministry’s policy work on renewable energy and minerals, freshwater, marine and climate change. He is also the Government’s liaison person with the Pike River families and has worked extensively with the families since 2012.

Bruce is a keen tramper and mountain biker, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this year. Bruce also appeared in three of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies as an extra.

Bruce will oversee our policy, science and technical teams, with a strong focus on building our science and research capability, and using sound science to drive policy decisions.

Deputy Director-General, Strategy and Innovation: Mervyn English

Mervyn English.

Mervyn English

Mervyn comes to DOC from the State Services Commission where he was Assistant Commissioner responsible for overseeing the Natural Resources Sector and its Chief Executives. He has also been Executive Director at the Ministry of Health and has a strong strategy development and implementation background.

Mervyn grew up on a Southland farm, close to Fiordland National Park. It was here that he developed a deep affection for New Zealand’s wild places, which turned into 20 years of mountaineering, including Himalayan expeditions. Along with many first ascents he was one of the pioneers of winter climbing in New Zealand.

He and his wife Susan are regularly active on the conservation estate—tramping, mountain biking, and taking pictures.

Mervyn will drive the innovation, internal culture and strategic communication and engagement needed to achieve conservation growth. This role includes DOC’s Treaty of Waitangi negotiations/settlements and our international team.

2 responses to D-G Direct: An update from Lou Sanson


    Please note that Ian Pirani ex Bay of Plenty Conservation Board was awarded a Queens Service medal for services to conservation in the latest list


      Yes, of course! Let’s not forget Ian Pirani – for services to conservation:

      “Mr Pirani is a former goat farmer who has given voluntary service to wetland preservation and other farm environment initiatives.

      “Early in his farming career he suggested to his employer to fence rather than drain a wetland. Later he and his wife established the largest water fowl collection in Australasia and were the first people to privately breed whio in captivity.

      “He joined the Wellington Acclimatisation Society as a councillor in 1964, serving until 1972 and was a Councillor on the National Acclimatisation for three years. In 1974 he was a co-founder of Ducks Unlimited, through which he and his wife initiated a Pateke breeding programme and nesting boxes for Grey Teal throughout New Zealand.

      “He strongly advocates for the profitable live harvest of feral goats from indigenous forests for environmental reasons and for use as a meat export.

      “Mr Pirani has served on a variety of environmental and farming boards including the Meat and Wool Board as a member of the Goat Advisory Group, on the Eastern Fish and Game Board, Bay of Plenty Goat Farmers Association, the Department of Conservation East Coast Board, and the National Trust of Balance Farm Environment Board.” ~ http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/qb2015-qsm#piranii

      There was a nice write up of Ian’s Queen’s Birthday Honours in the Bay of Plenty Times: http://m.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11457958