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 Richard Suggate, Partnership Development Manager, National Office (cantabrian)
Some things I do in my job include:
Most recently developing national commercial partnerships and managing national commercial accounts…. (e.g. Kiwibank, Meridian, Fonterra). At the beginning in DOC I was a planner and some people never forgave me for creating Conservation Management Strategies. in between planning and partnerships, I did much managing of this and that in Canterbury and elsewhere (e.g. Operation Ark, Arawai Kakariki, Living Water). The best legacy I have is helping protect South Westland forests and co-writing the South West NZ World Heritage nomination with Les Molloy. Though getting the Quail Island restoration programme started and the Christchurch-Little River RailTrail formed was also very satisfying.
This most recently helped achieve DOC’s vision by:
Working towards all businesses helping restore nature. Much of my earlier time was spent trying to dissuade businesses from a making a mess of it.
The best bit about my job:
A fine day in the high country. Give me Ashburton Lakes or St James anytime; though a day out on the water in Akaroa Harbour was always better than the office.
The funniest/strangest/scariest/ DOC moment I’ve had:
I was being challenged to a duel by an irate high country farmer who claimed that I had destroyed his life. I offered to fight him with pen and paper and he went on to live for another dozen years.
The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:
John Cumberpatch – a consummate professional. Runner-up is Nick Head – who wins the ‘staunchness award’. Also the many DOC Rangers who are excellent at their work and passionate in their beliefs. Lastly, the DOC RMA Planners who are unsung hero(ines) of fighting for nature, despite constant disapproval from many quarters.
On a personal note
Most people don’t know:
I was a trained outdoor education instructor. I spent a happy 1981 picking up skills and inflicting them on pupils at Rotoiti, Tautuku, Boyle River and elsewhere in the South Island.
My best ever holiday:
Childhood camping at Okain’s Bay on Banks Peninsula. Every summer we would go there for a fortnight and spend time in sun and surf. The campground is still there and little changed. Holidays in natural places with Eugenie, my partner of 32 years and my son Jesse all rate highly. My year-long secondment to Dartmoor National Park in 2004 was also holiday-like – imagine having twice the budget and time that we have in DOC.
The thing I’m most looking forward to:
In the next 6 months is not having to think about the systems and processes that drive DOC. I know I have helped create a considerable number of them; but there comes a time when you have had enough for a lifetime. And more positively – the freedom to think my own unfettered thoughts and to get back into the outdoors whenever I like.
My secret indulgence is:
Avocado and banana on toast. I have yet to find anyone else who thinks it’s a good idea.
Before working at DOC:
I once worked as a cleaner at Broadcasting House in Wellington. For rapid communication they had something called Telex in the 1970’s. Long spiels of paper with news stories flowing out of teleprinters. Office computers arrived about the time I started at DOC. Pre-DOC I worked briefly for the Forest Service, Lands & Survey and Ministry of Works. After that, I worked for the Biological Resources Centre immediately before coming to the Department. The BRC ran the PNA Programme and I spent my time trying to get biodiversity into district plans. The planners are still trying…
Deep and meaningful
My favourite quote is:
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” – Bob Dylan. This is particularly applicable to climate change denialists. ‘That he not busy being born is busy dying’, is another good one from Dylan.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It came from my mother but is common among all religions.
In work and life, I am motivated by:
Making every moment count. To leave a legacy worth having been born for. I am very happy to have worked alongside the many DOC staff who share this view point.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:
That ‘you live in one of the most blessed places on earth, so look after it for your children and natures sake’.