Ranger heroics to return a lost passport

Department of Conservation —  10/03/2016

One of our newest rangers made headlines when he helped a tourist retrieve her passport in time for her international flight. He tells us more about that day in February and his life as a Tiritiri Matangi island ranger.


Ranger Matthew Mould

Matthew Mold was one month into his new role as Tiritiri Matangi island ranger when he took a call from panicked tourist Montserrat Sureda.

He chuckles when he remembers his first thought when he answered the phone call, which came as he was preparing dinner (around 6 pm).

Montserrat was due to check in for her flight back to Europe in three hours. Her passport was still on the island.

“I thought, she’s gonna miss her flight!” says Matthew.

Matt was quick to snap into action, grabbing a bunch of spare keys and trying them all until he got into the gift shop, where the passport was sitting on the counter.

Tiritiri Matangi. Photo: Hazel Owen | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Tiritiri Matangi

The New Zealand Herald wrote a detailed account of the epic dash it took to get Montserrat’s passport back to its owner – which involved Matt driving a Mule down to the shore, paddleboarding out to a fishing boat and convincing the family on board to take the passport back to Gulf Harbour.

One of the details left out of the story is what happened when Matt phoned one of the two local shuttle services on Whangaparaoa Peninsula, seeking a shuttle to meet the fishing boat in Gulf Harbour.

“I rang the first one and a lady answered, and she said they could do it about 8.30pm. I said we won’t be able to do that, let me see what else I can do.

“I rang the other one and the same lady answered – she owns both!”

The second time was the charm and Matt successfully coordinated for the shuttle to get the passport back to Montserrat, within ten minutes of her check-in time.

The relieved tourist was quoted in the Herald as being “immensely grateful” to Matthew.

Since the story came out, life on the island has returned to normal. Lost property still gets left on the island, but the most common items left behind are far from precious travel documents.

“We do get things left on the island where people ring up and we arrange for them to be ferried back. It’s not an uncommon occurrence – mostly it’s jandals, believe it or not.”

Matt comes to DOC after 20+ years in construction project management. Those skills came in handy when handling the passport crisis.

Takahē mother and chick on Tiritiri Matangi island.

Takahē on Tiritiri Matangi

“When you’re project managing, pretty much all you do is spend your whole day solving problems. Coming from a construction background, you have to think pretty quickly when you’re on the dash.”

Matt has quickly taken to life on the island. He found the job when searching for opportunities in the area, having grown up around Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

He admires the work done by the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi and DOC to restore biodiversity to the island.

“It’s heaven, without a doubt,” he says, as tui sing to each other in the background.

“I feel really lucky to have a position like this. I’ve never really had a job that has nurtured the soul as much as paying the bills.”

This story was originally posted on the Tiritiri Matangi Facebook page.

3 responses to Ranger heroics to return a lost passport


    Well done Matt, what a star!


    Nice to have people who will pull out the stops to help others. Good on Matt, the family in their boat, the ferry operator and all others. Now we all need to do the same to protect the marine environment and get marine protected areas in the EEZ.


    Great story – well done Matt and to everyone else involved in the “rescue”.