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 Katrina Henderson, Regional Administration Officer, Franz Josef Glacier.
Some things I do in my job include:
All sorts of administration work and support on a regional and district level including payroll, recruitment, safety and wellbeing, finances, quality assurance – a jack of many trades.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:
Helping everyone with the behind the scenes tasks so that they can get their work done easier – and therefore helping to tell the DOC story and helping our nature.
The best bit about my job is:
Being able to be work with staff across all functions and be involved in conservation and recreation across the board, knowing that I have a small part to play in helping it happen.
The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is:
Too hard to just pick one! Each of the hut painting trips I have worked on – Top Butler, Butler Junction, Whymper, Almer, Castle Rocks, Scone – and completing tahr campsite inspections and rubbish collection in the Hooker-Landsborough and Adams Wilderness Areas would have to top the list though… being able to undertake work in these amazing landscapes while contributing to conservation and recreation.
The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:
There are so many amazing people that I have worked with in the Department but I’ve managed to narrow it down to two. Dave Waters, former Programme Manager Visitor Assets in Franz Josef/South Westland, really instilled in me the values of the Department and a very high standard of Visitor Asset management right from when I started in Franz. I always felt so privileged to be asked to help with Visitor Assets projects, as I figured it must mean I was doing something right!
The late John Richards was such an inspiration to me in the few years I was lucky enough to know him – John was a man that could build anything, fix anything, do anything and his death left a huge hole in our lives. John is the major motivation behind my interest in wellbeing.
On a personal note
My happy place is:
Sitting in the tussock, with camera in hand enjoying the changes of light across the landscape as the sun sets or rises
My greatest sporting moment was when:
I walked my first half marathon. Fair to say I’m not built for athletic endeavour but I have now walked four half marathons – heaps of fun with awesome people and great to be doing for a purpose (both for my own wellbeing and fundraising for breast and bowel cancer). A close second in the sporting arena was winning the West Coast Badminton Open Mixed Doubles in 2016 with my partner Ian.
In my spare time:
I am studying towards a Diploma in Health and Human Behaviour to increase my knowledge around stress, grief, counselling, and wellbeing so that I can share this with others.
If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to:
Be a photographer and/or documentary maker – telling the stories of those ordinary people who do incredible things to inspire us to do more and be more than we ever thought possible – along the lines of Sir Edmund Hillary’s great quote “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things”.
My heroes are:
Mal and Sally Law. Mal has put his body and mind on the line multiple times for charity, but his most recent challenge of the High Five-0 raising awareness and aiming to reduce the stigma around mental health and wellbeing, as well as raising bucket loads of money for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand still astounds me 18 months on! Being involved in Day 10 of this project in the Franz Josef area and getting our local community on board is probably the most rewarding thing I have ever done. If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend checking out the movie of the challenge. Sally’s logistical prowess and unwavering support of Mal is amazing, and being support crew for her at the 2016 Tarawera Ultra Marathon was so inspiring – to see her run through the pain and tiredness to complete the 100 kilometres in less than ideal conditions… wow!
Deep and meaningful
My favourite quote is:
“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – from The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:
“Eat the elephant one bite at a time” – a great way to tackle those big and difficult situations or tasks … thanks Mal Law!
In work and life I am motivated by:
Trying to improve wellbeing. I have seen and experienced too much tragedy through suicides and the struggles of people living with mental illness. I want to do as much as I can to break the stigma – help people get the help they need, talk to others, seek information and advice, and be well. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week – a great time to really think about your own wellbeing and see what you can do to feel great! There are some really great resources on www.mentalhealth.org.nz or www.mhaw.nz to get you started. A couple of years back I started sending out regular wellbeing emails which now go to a number of staff around the country. I’m certainly not a professional in this field, but helping just one person to find the support they need is huge.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:
Get out and connect with nature! We have so many amazing places to explore whether it’s out in a wilderness area or the local park in the middle of the city. Open spaces, forests, lakes, mountains, beaches, gardens… we are so spoilt for choice. Great places to go and explore, learn more about nature and yourself, get involved in conservation and recreation, be mindful and look after your wellbeing – Healthy Nature, Healthy People!