Archives For christchurch

DOC employee Anita Tibbertsma shares her ‘tips for the trails’ after recently embarking on short walks between Picton and Christchurch.

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A living wall, made from ceramic, felted wool and wood 3D-printed biodegradable planter panels, brings nature into the heart of downtown Christchurch.

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Last month a mission was launched to save the native Canterbury geckos that live on the rocky bluffs above the quake-damaged Sumner Road in Christchurch.

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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 Herb Familton, Resource Management Act Planner.

Name: Herb Familton.
Position: Resource Management Act Planner.
Office: Christchurch Shared Services, Policy and Regulatory Group.

Herb moutain biking in Nevis Valley.

Moutain biking in Nevis Valley

At work

Some things I do in my job include… biking to and from work through Hagley Park talking to area staff and scientists about the effects of consents and plans, assigning area staff with RMA questions, case management and mediation with lawyers and witnesses, writing submissions and writing evidence. And putting on my best suit and presenting evidence to councils about submissions.

The best bit about my job is… working with bright bushy tailed and committed DOC staff who also happen to be principled and well rounded individuals that are a pleasure to work with.

The strangest DOC moment I’ve had so far is… on the airfield at Pitt island (off Chatham Island) with the skulls of the saxon sheep littered around, facing the howling wind and watching roaring whitecaps offshore roll in. Possibly the strangest I’ve ever felt, it was like at the opening scene of a Peter Jackson Horror movie.

Herb and a friend winning the South Island Regional Gliding Championships.

Day winners of South Island Regional Gliding Championships

The previous DOC employee that inspired me most is… John Cumberpatch – his focus was definitely working on the business.

On a personal note

I am not a Cantabrian; I am an Oamaruvian and still support the Highlanders and the Volts. As it happens, I love neo-gothic stone buildings, particularly if they have Oamaru stone in them. We are losing a lot of amazing buildings at the moment here in Christchurch. Going through town, it’s a bit hard to know where you are sometimes as they have all disappeared! However, things are on the up now in terms of the rebuild, and I’m looking forward to the new improved energy efficient buildings and bikeways over the place.

I was taught History and English by Owen Jones (Marshall) the noted short story writer. The Waitaki Valley and Central Otago are my stomping grounds… the way the light falls and the shadows on the hills at Omarama (the centre of the known gliding universe) in the late evening is just magical (best with a Otago pinot methinks!). The Hopkins and Huxley Valleys are places I’ll always come back to visit.

I live in a renovated 100 year old villa with Donna who is a nurse and with sons Hamish and Alex. We have upgraded this to a pretty good sustainability rating with a worm farm, retrofitted double glazing, heat pump, wall/ceiling/floor insulation, heat pump clothes drier, high efficiency dishwasher, CFL and LED lighting, and  evacuated tube powered solar hot water and shower hot water heat exchange over the years. Did you know you can get candle shaped LED bayonet bulbs for Donna’s lovely chandeliers? The plan is solar PV when I retire maybe…

Herb using a solar cooker in Central Otago.

Solar cooker under Central Otago sun doing dinner

Most people don’t know that I… think that LINUX operating systems are absolutely brilliant, reliable and cost nothing. Perhaps this reflects my Presbyterian upbringing! Fellow DOC shared services staffer Steve Sharman made me a computer in 2005 and its still going strong on Ubuntu LINUX.

The song that always cheers me up… is Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and any guitar solo by son Alex singing Bruno Mars.

My greatest sporting moment was… definitely leading the South Island Open Class Gliding championship in the mid 1990s for several days (until we missed a thermal and landed in a paddock at Irishman’s Creek one day!)

The Murchison Glacier.

Skitouring in Murchison Glacier (I have walked out of Murchison twice!)

Deep and meaningful

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… ‘Be true to yourself’ by my Dad. This dawned on me in an epiphany when Nigel Latta the psychologist talked about his Dad in the same way.

My favourite quote is… “If you are going to achieve in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception: it is a prevailing attitude”by Colin Powell, closely followed by “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

In work and life I am motivated by… living life by my expectations, the occasional hurry ups from Donna, giving Hamish and Alex the opportunities to become fine young men, and knowing with clear certainty that I have been a positive force in society over a range of endeavours. Ken and Anna as case managers also give me the hurry up as required!

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… in the towns and cities: walk, bike, or take public transport to work, get into solar HW and PV, insulate and double glaze your homes, renovate your Edwardian villas rather than flattening them as they are big enough, use a heat pump or low emission log burner and compost or worm farm your organic waste.

In the country, take inspiration from our wonderful backcountry and coast, remember to appreciate the special places you value when you visit with family and friends, and give your support to the organisations, groups, or individuals that value them as you are able. We may not have visited for a while, but knowing they are there sometimes is solace enough… toitu te whenua.

Herb's family at the blue penguin colony in Oamaru.

Donna, Hamish and Alex in Oamaru

Question of the week

If you could be a character in any TV show, who would you be and why?

Lisa Simpson from the Simpsons as she plays the alto saxophone of course!

Swinging below the crane, a wee cabin linked to Scott’s fatal Antarctic expedition looked more like a cubby than a 100-year-old piece of history.

“It looks like a child’s playhouse!” remarked its ‘owner’ Valerie Crichton.

Scott's cabin is moved by crane from the earthquake crumbled cliff in Sumner.

DOC’s Murray Lane helps guide the hut as it’s lifted out of the spot where it has sat for the last 100 years

But as Grant Campbell, DOC Community Relations Programme Manager eloquently said, “We’ve lost so much heritage in Christchurch, even the wee ones count.”

The hut, which for the past 40 years has been under the care of the Crichton family in Sumner, has been pulled from the brink of an earthquake-crumbled cliff top after being vested with DOC.

It’s the culmination of lots of long talks and negotiations by Grant and Community Relations Ranger Cody Frewin with the Crichtons, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and the Christchurch City Council.

Valerie Crichton said, “It’s taken more than two years to get traction on this. Then we met with DOC and it was ‘can do’. That ‘can do’ was music to our ears.”

Scott's cabin is hoisted by crane on to a truck.

The hut had to be lifted high around pitched garage roofs and powerlines

Cody said, “I’m really proud of what we have achieved.”

Grant, Cody and the Crichtons were all onsite to watch the cabin be retrieved and trucked to Godley Head by contractors HGM Construction. David Crichton pacing back and forth was reminiscent of an expectant father.

“I have mixed feelings about this event,” said David. “It would have been nice to stay here but this is the next best thing.”

The cabin began life as a meteorological hut taken to the Antarctic by the Terra Nova for Captain Scott in 1911. But it was brought back to Lyttelton in 1912, still in its wrapping.

Scott's cabin makes its way from Sumner to Godley Head by road.

The convoy makes its way through the narrow streets of Sumner before heading up the hill (you seen the road in the background)

It was erected on Clifton Hill above Sumner in the garden of the expedition agent, Sir Joseph Kinsey and was home to the wife of Captain Scott’s right hand-man Dr Edward Wilson, Oriana Wilson, for a year until she received the news of his death in February 1913. The hut was also known as ‘Uncle Bill’s Cabin’ after Dr Wilson, whose nickname was Bill.

David Crichton used the cabin as his study, and later it was a place of refuge after the September quake, when the couple felt nervous about sleeping in their own house. This fear was proved founded when the February quakes bought their house down, while the cabin rolled with the quakes like “a wee boat,” said Valerie.

In a press release, Minister of Conservation Hon Dr Nick Smith said, “I’d like to acknowledge the Crichton’s vision and generosity in gifting the hut, as well as the assistance provided by CERA and the Christchurch City Council in making the removal possible.”

The cabin is place at the new Godley Head site by crane.

The hut will sit on the old parade grounds on Godley Head temporarily until it’s restored and resource consents are sorted for its final resting place with a sea view

“For a building to have travelled so far and survived so much, it would have been a tragedy to have left it to be demolished.”

The hut has been taken to public conservation land at Godley Head where it will be restored and eventually opened to the public, in a spot with sea views as it was on Kinsey Terrace.

William and Josie Webb meet our forest friends in Riccarton Bush.

William and Josie Webb meet our forest friends in Riccarton Bush

Come to Riccarton Bush, Christchurch this coming Sunday
To our meet the forest families, at our free family fun day

We’ve got guided walks and games, crafts and treats
And some forest creatures we’d love you to meet 

Kiwi chicks are hiding – you won’t see them this Sunday
But we’ll have a kiwi egg hunt – come join in the play! 

Weta; S Parkkali.

Weta is waiting to meet you!

Five wētā are hidden in the kahikatea tree
With a word to spell out – what will it be? 

Geckos are great – with coats grey, brown or green
Check out some photos of geckos we’ve seen

 Piwakawaka is friendly and might flit by
As we walk through the forest, don’t forget to say hi!

These forest friends want you to come out and play
At Riccarton Bush, Christchurch, at our free family day!

But if Christchurch is too far away for you to roam
Look below in this blog for stuff to do at home!

Sunday 18 September, 10am4pm
Riccarton Bush, Ngahere Street entrance
Christchurch, South Island

To find out more and go into the draw for a fun pack, visit

 ‘My heart is like a forest’ things to make

On the Conservation Week website there are some things to make and do at home, including six of our fabulous forest creatures.

Cut and colour pages. Print out the A4 pages, colour in the heart-shaped pieces, cut them out then put them back together! 


Make this kaleidocycle for Conservation Week

Kaleidocycle. Ever heard of a kaleidocycle? Download the A3 instruction sheet to make one for yourself!

Face masks. Become a bird for a day! Print off one of these A3 sheets, colour them in and cut them out to create your very own bird mask!