Archives For Taranaki

One-and-a-half year old Corban and his mum Tracey share with us his very first geocaching adventure for Conservation Week.

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Last weekend, an eager bunch of children arrived at Ratapihipihi Reserve ready for a Kiwi Guardians adventure here in Taranaki.

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Volunteers picked up a whopping 360 kilograms of rubbish from an important bird habitat on the Taranaki coast recently.

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Students at Moturoa School in Taranaki are working hard to save their rare local plants from extinction.

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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 Kay Davies, Partnerships Ranger in Ngamotu/New Plymouth.

Kay Davies on the Kepler Track.

Getting familiar with the Kepler Track

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

I oversee the two Egmont National Park Visitor Centres (North Egmont and Dawson Falls). I also do tourism liaison, interpretation project management and have just taken on the health and safety coordinator role.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

DOC’s visitor centres as our second most important channel after the website have huge potential for engaging people in conservation and growing the vision.

The best bit about my job is:

The diversity. From track work in Westland National Park, to recreation planning on Great Barrier Island, to community relations in Hawke’s Bay and even to helping develop a Visitor Centre at Government House Wellington—and a subsequent handshake with royalty!

Kay Davies showing Prince Charles and Lady Camilla around the Government House Visitor Centre.

Showing Prince Charles and Lady Camilla around the newly completed Government House Visitor Centre

The strangest DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

I use to be responsible for the Great Barrier Island’s Claris airstrip. When it was wet, Great Barrier Airlines would ring me from Auckland in the morning (once the phone exchange opened) and get me to drive my work Land Rover down the runway to see if I got stuck or not. If I didn’t they’d fly over.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

The Taranaki Visitor Centre team. They spend all day being cheerful and friendly with our visitors, (even the ones who want to climb Mount Taranaki with just an umbrella for protection!) and nothing is too much bother for them. Then to top off their day, they have to clean the toilets—all without complaint.

Heavy snow outside the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre.

Getting to work at the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre can have its challenges!

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

When I started my career at DOC I was one of only two females on the annual 12 person intake from Lincoln College’s (now University) Park Ranger course in 1981. Those were the days when interview questions included “do you get on well with blokes?” and “are you good with your hands?”.

Park Ranger intake class at Lincoln College in 1981.

Park Ranger intake, Lincoln College, 1981

The song that always cheers me up is:

“I could walk 500 miles” by The Proclaimers. For some reason it is synonymous with good times and lots of dancing at parties!

If I could trade places with any other person for a week—famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional—it would be:

Harry Potter. Oh to have an invisibility cloak and be able to teleport. In fact when I used to try to teleport often when I was little, to save long walks home from my friends’ places—needless to say I’m still trying to fine tune the technique!

My best ever holiday was:

Tramping between Norway and Sweden up in the far north. I’d read in a book somewhere that it was possible to do—so with that comprehensive trip planning done off we went! With a bit more local info we successfully navigated our way through two amazing national parks complete with reindeer, snow fields, ‘frozen feet’ river crossings, lakes and Samish summer villages.

Sorjoshytta in Norway.

Sorjoshytta in Norway, en route to Sweden via Padjelanta and Sarek National Parks

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be:

The native shrub, mairehau—imagine smelling that nice all the time!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”—Dr. Seuss

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:

“Did anyone die? No? Then what’s the problem?” In other words—don’t sweat the small stuff. (Obviously if someone has died that’s another issue).

In work and life I am motivated by:

My family, nature, and Hadyn Jones’ Good Sorts on the Sunday night news. I reckon if you make it onto that you’ve made a difference in the world!

Kay Davies exploring the North Taranaki coastline with the family.

Exploring the North Taranaki coastline with the family

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

A few words from a song out of Jesus Christ Superstar:

“Think while you still have me
Move while you still see me
You’ll be lost
You’ll be so sorry
When I’m gone”

(In other words—take action now! Of course it pertains to Jesus in the song, but could equally apply to our natural environment don’t you think?)

Kay Davies at the Wellington Sevens dressed as a fairy.

The Wellington Sevens—I’m the pure white fairy of course

Question of the week…

You have to cut your energy usage by a third – what would you give up and what couldn’t/wouldn’t you want to live without?

Give up: the car—around town at least, lighting—back to candles, TV (except Coro St of course and maybe Sky Sport).
Keep: definitely the hot shower/bath—but if it’s solar even better, I might just need to shift from Taranaki.

We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week (15-21 June 2014). Join us as we share stories of the volunteers who contribute to conservation.

Sorrel Hoskin.

Sorrel Hoskin

Today, we’re publishing (with permission) an email sent by DOC Ranger, Sorrel Hoskin (New Plymouth/Ngamotu), to DOC Director-General, Lou Sanson…

As a partnerships visitor centre ranger on Mounga Taranaki I work in an amazing place—driving to work in the morning I look up at the mountain and feel lucky to work in such a special environment.

Mount Taranaki. Photo:  Kathrin & Stefan Marks | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Mounga Taranaki—an amazing place to work

We get busy at the visitor centre, and opportunities to get out and explore some of amazing places we help care for are limited.

Volunteers (left to right): Linda, Sorrel and Victoria.

Volunteers (left to right):
Linda, Sorrel and Victoria

When I read and hear about some of the cool things being done by colleagues around the country I wanted to learn more and help in some small way.

I also thought it’s important to know what we at DOC are asking of our volunteers. How can we promote and ask people to volunteer if we ourselves haven’t “walked the walk”?

So I took some annual leave and signed up as a volunteer for DOC on Maud Island doing weed work.

Ten days later, one volunteer experience doesn’t make me an expert—but it gave me an idea of what being a ‘volly’ is like.

The Maud Island trip was a big ask—10 days straight working 8 hours a day clambering up steep hills struggling through scrub looking for old man’s beard, wilding pines and pohutukawa to chop down.

Sometimes the going was steep.

Sometimes the going was steep!

Getting scratched, hot and tired, stumbling over fallen trees, ending upside down in gorse bushes… there were times I thought “what the #$@&% am I doing here?”

Old man's beard weeding.

Weeding old man’s beard

But I’d go back again and again. The hard work is balanced by the opportunity to be around some passionate, knowledgeable, DOC people—who obviously love their work—and interact with and learn more about takahē, kākāpō, giant weta, geckos, the Maud Island frog and penguins

I have amazing memories of going exploring one night and having to be careful where we walk so as not to accidentally step on giant weta or any tiny Maud Island frogs.

View from Comalco Lodge, Maud Island

View from Comalco Lodge, Maud Island

Night swimming in phosphorescence and watching a “glowing” little blue penguin swim by was a highlight… and then there’s the saddening impact of what the introduction of mice to the island means to all those species and the rangers who take care of them.

Taking a break.

Taking a break

I’ve returned to my job on the mountain with a greater understanding of the work being done to protect some of our endangered species, and a higher respect for colleagues who help protect these species. I also have a little experience of what it is like to be a volunteer for DOC. It’s bloody hard work—but it’s worth it.

Sunset from Maud Island.

Sunset from Maud Island

Volunteers play a vital role in conservation in New Zealand, whether they’re working with DOC or other community conservation groups.

Volunteer for conservation and help us on our mission to make New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth!

The tīeke/saddleback belongs to New Zealand’s unique wattlebird family, an ancient group which includes the endangered kōkako and the extinct huia. An adult tīeke can be recognised by a distinctive chestnut saddle of colour.

According to Māori mythology the chestnut saddle was put there by the demi-god Maui. Following Maui’s battle with the sun the tīeke refused to bring water to a thirsty Maui, becoming angry he seized the bird with his still fiery hand, leaving a brown scorch mark across its back.

North Island Tieke. Photo: Andy McDowall | CC BY-NC 2.0

Last Saturday 40 tīeke were released in Taranaki to join a recently released founding population. The birds were released at Taranaki’s pest-free Lake Rotokare Reserve.

These are the fist tīeke to live in the Taranaki region for more than 150 years.

Photo by Andy McDowall | CC BY-NC 2.0.