Jobs at DOC: Uta Purcell, Information Officer

Department of Conservation —  23/10/2015

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 Uta Purcell, Information Officer in Nelson.

At work…

Some things I do in my job include:

Basic administrative work, answering emails and phone calls from New Zealand and around the world. I help visitors with their plans and bookings by providing up-to-date information and speaking from the personal experience of a tramper who ‘has been everywhere’ as my colleagues say.

Uta Purcell tramping in the mountains.

My experience in tramping helps when I’m advising visitors

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Helping a wide variety of people who have very diverse questions. It often leads to answering questions on natural history and raising their awareness of conservation.

The best bit about my job is:

Talking about my favourite things to do all around New Zealand. Without that enjoyment I could not do my job.

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

Feedback from international travellers and local outdoor enthusiasts about how rewarding a long tramp or short walk has been for them. People who are well prepared and equipped can still enjoy their experience even in poor weather.

Uta Purcell's family in 2014 .

The family in 2014

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is: 

Botanist Shannel Courtney, DOC’s Threatened Plant Officer in Nelson. He is passionate about native flora. He also makes time to lead Botanical Society field trips and camps, where he inspires and answers our repeated questions with endless patience.

On a personal note…

My happy place is:

Inside a tent in a remote spot or walking along ridges well above the bushline.

Uta Purcell visiting the Himalayas in 2009.

Visiting the Himalayas in 2009

My greatest sporting moment was when:

I participated in the Buller Half Marathon, walking it in just under three hours, a good time for my age group.

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

Briefly retracing my roots on a trip to Germany to celebrate a family event.

In my spare time:

I struggle joyfully to maintain my garden, read, sing in a World Music Choir and botanise.

Before working at DOC:

I was a bookseller, antiquarian, editorial assistant in Europe and New Zealand. I started working at DOC six years ago when I retired from many years as a school librarian.

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“Live simply so others may simply live.” – Gandhi.

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

“Worrying doesn’t fix anything.”

In work and life I am motivated by:

Christian ethics, to live with a purpose, do a job well, be helpful in every way.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Explore the outdoors and participate in a practical/hands on manner to gain an appreciation of our natural assets and help towards their continued survival.

Boarding the boat to Blumine Island, Marlborough.

Boarding the boat to Blumine Island, Marlborough

Question of the week…

What’s your favourite breakfast food?

Two or three pieces of fresh fruit, followed by porridge, green tea, and if I feel that I still need more to fill me up for the day ahead, I’ll add one or two slices of Vogel toast with ginger marmalade.