It’s National Volunteer Week and we’re honouring the selfless souls who volunteer for conservation—highlighting the diversity of volunteers and volunteer opportunities around New Zealand.
There is a place for you to volunteer | He wahi hei tuao
Today, DOC’s Sally Leggett, tells us what volunteers have been up to in Motueka and Takaka…
Over the last year, Motueka and Takaka DOC volunteers have kept up a DOC nursery, pulled weeds, planted trees, maintained historic assets, painted huts, checked tracking tunnels and traps, searched for snails, caught whio, hunted pigs, monitored concessionaires and acted as hut wardens in Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks.
Here are some thoughts and experiences from volunteers and the DOC rangers who accompany them into the field…
Marie Lenting: Goldfield maintenance, hut painter, camp host…
Marie said seeing the transformation of Bark Bay Hut, meeting and working with new people, and the location were the best parts of the experience.
“The only frustrating thing was not being able to complete the job due to the weather. I now know more about DOC and its systems and appreciate the hard work and passion of staff.”
Eric McPherson: Restoring historic places, maintaining huts, checking traps
Eric McPherson has a background in building and has volunteered to restore historic places and maintain huts.
After helping spruce up Cecil Kings Hut in Kahurangi National Park, he checked traps in the Wangapeka whio security site and is now one of 15 regular volunteers who help Motueka DOC staff in this area.
Eric said meeting the other volunteers and working with DOC staff were the best parts and the worst were the wasps.
“DOC staff showed interest in me as a person and made me feel I wasn’t just another volunteer. I hope the DOC/volunteer partnership continues for a long time as it’s a great way for people with spare time and varied skills to meaningfully contribute in our environment.”
Ivan Rogers: DOC ranger, often accompanied by volunteers
Ivan Rogers, Motueka based conservation services ranger, is often accompanied by volunteers as he checks tracking tunnels and traps or catches whio at the Wangapeka site.
“A good volunteer can make a good backcountry trip great. We can expect a lot of volunteers, but I don’t ask them to do something I wouldn’t do.
“It’s encouraging to hear volunteers genuinely enjoy their time with us. It’s an opportunity to go somewhere off the beaten track—like the South Branch of the Wangapeka—in a helicopter and see things most people can’t, like a pristine waterway well-stocked with whio.
“Our volunteers are often involved in other volunteering activities too, like foster care, ambulance work or the arts, so evening hut conversations are stimulating.”
Mike McConchie: Motueka volunteer whio team
Mike McConchie has been part of the Motueka volunteer whio team for the past five years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and skills and is great company.
Mike accompanied rangers catching whio in the Pearse River, Kahurangi National Park. The team caught a new whio pair and named them Mike and Marian—in honour of Mike’s long service to the project, and after Mike’s wife, Marian.
Mike recently took his wife Marian into the Pearse to check traps and introduced Marian the human to Marian the whio!
Greg Napp: Volunteers are the solid foundation stone for the future of conservation in New Zealand
Greg Napp, DOC conservation partnerships ranger at Takaka, says including volunteers within DOC work programmes is not a “nice to have”; it’s the solid foundation stone for the future of conservation in New Zealand.
“Volunteers who have a rich and rewarding experience come back for more and encourage others to come. Our reputation builds and capacity increases. In Golden Bay, we had great volunteer support for our snail monitoring programmes last summer and we look forward to seeing them again in two years.”
The open mindedness and trust—of both volunteers and Motueka and Takaka rangers—has resulted in a successful volunteer programme in their area.