My son is my motivation – Kris Theiss

Department of Conservation —  04/07/2022

As Matariki transitions, we’ve started a new series celebrating younger members of our DOC whānau who are helping shape our future.

Kris Theiss is one very busy young woman. At 31, she works fulltime for DOC, volunteers, leads an active lifestyle, is completing a degree, and is happy mama to a super-energetic three-year-old, Oliver. “He is my motivation for everything I do,” she says.

Kris is the Delivery Manager for Jobs for Nature, based in Rotorua. She supports 15 projects around Rotorua and in the western Bay of Plenty, most of which involve working alongside whānau, hapū and iwi partners. It’s complex but rewarding work.

“I love seeing the difference that Jobs for Nature and our partnerships are having on the ground,” she explains. “It’s not just the conservation outputs, which are fantastic and important, but the positive impacts on our partners. This mahi is making a difference in their lives. It’s helping them achieve their aspirations and I’m genuinely excited to be part of that.”

Kris loves the people she works with, both in DOC and outside of DOC.

“I am surrounded by genuinely good, positive people that inspire me regularly.”

She learns a lot from the people around her.

“Everyone you ever meet knows something you don’t know, so it’s important to listen, learn and be respectful.”

On top of her day job, Kris is also a National PSA delegate and the local health and safety representative. She was in the Aspiring Leaders Programme 2021.

Kris is passionate about conservation and te taiao

Australian Kris moved from Sydney to Rotorua in 2013, where she lives with her partner Darrel, son Oliver and rottweiler Letty. She is passionate about te taiao, sustainability and conservation, and tries to incorporate these into her life habits. She enjoys the outdoors and is always up for a new experience. “I’ll try anything – from caving to bungee jumping to walking the Tongariro Crossing to travelling around the South Island in a campervan.”

Kris loves learning. She has completed online courses in te reo and tikanga through Te Wananga o Raukawa and is studying for a Bachelor of Business (Leadership and Management) at Open Polytechnic – Te Pukenga.

She also volunteers through the Graeme Dingle Foundation as a Career Navigator at a local high school. “I appreciate the opportunity to give back to the community and support others through my experiences. It’s very rewarding to work with rangatahi,” she says.

Kris with son Oliver, an energetic three-year-old
Kris organised and supported a Jobs for Nature visit from the Prime Minister

Do what makes you happy, Kris says

Kris’s philosophy in life is to do what makes you happy. She wants to make a positive difference to others and to te taiao.

“I want my son to be proud of me. I want to inspire him and others to go for whatever they want.”

She shares with us her favourite whakataukī:

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei

Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it, you will hit a lofty mountain.

Celebrating DOC’s 35th anniversary

Kris’s story is the first in a new series to mark DOC’s 35th anniversary year. Over the next few weeks we will be celebrating some of the younger people who work at DOC and are helping shape the future of conservation in Aotearoa .

One response to My son is my motivation – Kris Theiss


    That is what the world needs more of – positivity and inspiration for the next generation.