By Teresa Wyndham-Smith
Ask Franz Josef couple Jan and Mike Goodall what Jobs for Nature means to them, and they’ll tell you it’s been their lifesaver.
“We’ve really had to tighten our belts because of COVID, but we’ve been okay because of Jobs for Nature. It sounds corny but it saved us,” says Jan.
Jan and Mike (Tainui/Ngāti Maniapoto) and family have run Te Koha, a carve-your-own-pounamu studio, since 2010. Before the pandemic things had been full-on for them. Contiki, a major player in bus tours, had even started bringing groups to them.
Jan and Mike have since refocussed on the domestic market, but estimate business is down 95 percent on pre-COVID levels.
Jobs for Nature came to their rescue through the South Westland Tourism & Conservation Support programme. Jan was at the local service station when she bumped into another tourism operator who asked how they were doing. He said he’d joined up with Jobs for Nature and suggested they do too.
Jan got straight on to it, but Mike hesitated. “He wouldn’t go for the first month, now he’s going to be team leader!”, she laughs.
Mike laughs too. “DOC is the last place I ever thought I’d work but Jobs for Nature has given us a hell of an appreciation for DOC and what they do.”
The couple have mostly been working on weed eradication, ridding riverbeds of honeysuckle and budliea around Franz Josef and Whataroa.
“We tend to have more people turn up to us for carving on rainy days. Weeding work needs to be done on sunny days, so it works well,” says Jan.
“It’s given us the flexibility to enable our business to keep going. It’s really important to keep businesses going to attract people here. If people are kind enough to travel to support us, they need to find things to do when they arrive in South Westland.
“Without Jobs for Nature I don’t know what we’d do.”
Mike adds, “We work every fine day, on average three days a week. It’s really good camaraderie. We’re working with all sorts of people, so it can be very funny.”
“Our appreciation and respect for DOC has gone right up,” says Jan,
“We’re working with a lot of people we wouldn’t normally meet – it’s good for the community. Before this we didn’t know any DOC workers. There was almost a separation because we never crossed over, now we’ve crossed over and it’s really lovely.
Honestly, the guys here are pretty cool,” she says name checking South Westland rangers Mike Hay and Chris Monson.
There’s been benefits outside of work too, they agree.
“We’ve always loved nature but now we’re doing more walking. On a day off we walked up McDonalds to the waterfall – that’s not us!”
The Jobs for Nature programme helps revitalise communities through nature-based employment post COVID-19.
Learn more about the programme and it’s impacts on people and biodiversity.