Jobs at DOC: Trevor Johnston, Community Ranger

Department of Conservation —  05/02/2016

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 Trevor Johnston, Community Ranger in Greymouth.

At work…

Some things I do in my job include:

My days are varied and could include interacting and coordinating with any of the following groups: media, the public, businesses, army, foresters/loggers, local government, communities, landowners/farmers, coal miners, and gold miners.

Trevor enjoying the view in the Grampians, Victoria.1972.

Enjoying the view in the Grampians, Victoria.1972

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Expanding the overall effort in conservation and new initiatives, and seeing New Zealanders place a higher value on what we have left (including our iconic landscapes –I’m thinking of the McKenzie Basin here).

The best bit about my job is: 

Now that’s a tough one to pin down – although when you bump into people who ask “how do I get a job in DOC” you are once again reminded of the great job (and responsibility) you have, and how many people are in total envy of what you do for a living.

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

Where do I begin – so many jaw dropping experiences to pick and choose from here, but I must declare, my encounter with a pod of orca a couple of years ago takes some beating. At one point they were only around 30 metres away which was especially breathtaking.

Of course there was also the southern right whale that wallowed around for a photo shoot at the mouth of the Grey River. Oh, by the way, did I tell you about the great spotted kiwi that came right up and sniffed my boots? And the list goes on.

Trevor map reading with friend Kevin Dash on the Paparoa Traverse 1986.

That’s me on the left map reading with friend Kevin Dash on our Paparoa Traverse 1986

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

There are far too many inspirational people so it’s hard to narrow to just one. The Department’s strength is surely in dedicated staff right across the organisation. Gordon Roberts stands out. He’s 81 years young and still rocking up for work at the Greymouth DOC office as and when required; now that’s inspirational!

On a personal note…

In my spare time:

Defining ‘spare time’ is rather difficult. I guess I sleep in my spare time, because when I’m not at work, I’m either mowing our golf course, entertaining our B&B guests (Kiwi Wild Lodge), or checking stoat traps for Paparoa Wildlife Trust. Oh yeah, almost forgot, we watch the odd movie so that must be our spare time.

If I could trade places with any other person for a week—famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional—it would be:

I wouldn’t mind nudging Clint Eastwood out of his directors’ seat for a week. I’ve always wanted to direct a movie and he seems to get things done without too much fuss or fanfare.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be:

South Island kōkako would be an interesting one – I would so love to be able to sing notes that grand – and I’d make myself a bit more obvious to all those keen searchers out there looking for me! It would be a real shame if I was lost forever, eh.

Most people don’t know that:

I was once a logger of our rimu and beech forests. Oh, how things have changed.

Trevor under the red hard hat during the forest logging days of the 1970’s.

I’m the young fella under the red hard hat during those forest logging days of the 1970’s


My most prized possession is

My glasses rate fairly high – I’d be in a fix without em’.

Me and Gail enjoying our son Andy’s wedding.

Me and Gail enjoying our son Andy’s wedding

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

I remember reading it a long time ago and it has stuck with me ever since – “We have to know, beyond the shadow of doubt, that we have within us all the resources of the one who upholds the universe” (Juan Carlos Ortiz)

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

“Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today,” and I’m still trying to put this into practice.

Trevor at the helm of an inflatable, Ahaura Gorge trip 2011.

Me at the helm of my inflatable in the Ahaura Gorge

In work and life I am motivated by:

All those volunteers out there, and the people who don’t have much but always seem to be able to contribute something (and sometimes the most).

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Care for and appreciate what we have, because when it’s gone, it will probably stay gone!