Tough rangers hit the green carpet

Department of Conservation —  12/04/2016

Two DOC rangers joined Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki to represent DOC at the premiere of ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople‘ last week.

Haast ranger Sian Reynolds and Kauarenga Valley ranger Rose Graham were the winners of a competition to find DOC’s toughest rangers.

DOC's Sian, Nicola and Rose at the premiere of Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

DOC’s Sian, Nicola and Rose at the premiere of Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Rose and Sian were randomly drawn as the winners from a shortlist of entries sent in by DOC staff from all over the country.

They flew to Auckland last week to join Nicola Toki on the green carpet. Nicola says it was great fun to attend the premiere with rangers from opposite ends of the country.

DOC rangers Sian and Rose at the premiere of Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

DOC rangers Sian and Rose at the premiere

The winning stories

Sian was nominated by conservation dog Rein (with a little help from Iain Graham).

Rein’s story and photo described Sian’s efforts to retrieve rowi ‘Bruce Lee’ from a particularly tight spot inside a hollowed out tree.

“Was contortionist on the list of skills when Sian applied for her job? Turns out, it should be! Within seconds Sian had folded, crawled and squirmed her way through the hole, stood up inside the tree, located Bruce Lee, secured those feet and passed them back out to Iain through the small hole in which she just disappeared. Once the action had stopped, Sian was able to admire the inside of this old tree to find weta, spiders and a huge ants nest disturbed in the commotion. Sian hates ants…turns out it takes a ‘wee bit’ longer to get out a small hole when panic takes over…”

– Rein the dog (@gingerdogwithajob)

Meanwhile, Rose was nominated by three of her colleagues from the Coromandel.

Rose is a tiny wee slip of a thing, but don’t let her diminutive size fool you – she’s as courageous as it comes! A serious conservation advocate, she walks the talk from monitoring bats, trapping pests, to hard-out recreational pursuits on public conservation land.

Rose gives visitors to the Kauaeranga Valley (coincidentally where the movie is filmed) the best possible conservation and track information. Passionate about conservation she has set up a trap line around the Visitor Centre to educate people on trapping pests and has run educational workshops through the Centre’s Summer Programme on plant and bird identification. With the largest DOC hut in the country just below the Pinnacles, she also keeps a smile on her face when visitors her ask for the millionth time ‘how do I get to the Pine Ackles’.

Rose has handled many unique situations from visitors shredding their tyres on road spikes to much more serious incidents. Take my word for it, she’s a force to be reckoned with and the person you’d want on your team.”

Kids art competition

Also at the premiere was Sophia Blyth (9) with her mum Jil. Sophia won the opportunity to attend through the Threatened Species art competition on the DOC website. She created a colourful kiwi collage which took out the top spot. The runner-up prizewinner Ben Cave won a GoodNature trap with his drawing of a kea.

Drawing competition winner Sophia Blyth with Sam Neill and Julian Dennison at the premiere.

Drawing competition winner Sophia Blyth, 9, met Sam Neill and Julian Dennison at the premiere

Sophia’s mum said before the premiere, Sophia had been so excited she slept with her new shoes on her bed.

Her class at school were excited too.

“Last week after I told the school, Sophia’s Te Reo teacher played the movie preview for the kids four times,” says Jil.

Sophia's winning kiwi collage.

Sophia’s winning collage

Bringing stories about threatened species to a wider audience

Nicola worked with the star of the movie, Julian Dennison, to promote threatened species awareness in the lead-up to the film’s release. In March she took Julian and his brother to Zealandia where they had a close encounter with Tane and Tuahine the tuatara – an event that was shared across the film’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“Aside from the possum trapping and pig hunting, a huge part of the narrative of this film is the feeling of the bush and the high altitude landscapes that are depicted in such a beautiful way. It’s given us a really good opportunity to talk about threatened species in connection with a film that is getting a tonne of exposure both here in New Zealand and internationally,” says Nicola.

Last week Nicola ran into director Taika Waititi at the RNZ studio, where she was taping her weekly ‘Critter of the Week’ segment.

“In the photo it looks like we’re old mates, but I actually pounced on him as he was leaving another recording studio, to thank him for having us as part of the premiere. He is a big supporter of the work DOC does to protect our wildlife and wild places.”