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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 Leana Barriball, Kaiārahi Kaupapa Atawhai / Pou Whakahaere – Toi Moana (Strategic Cultural Advisor and Technical Workflow Coordinator) based in Wellington.

Leana sitting at her desk in Wellington.

At my desk in National Office

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

The fun parts include planning hui to build an action plan to incorporate mātauranga Māori into the work that DOC does; organising te reo classes and waiata sessions for staff in National Office; developing a project plan for cultural indicators in the marine space; making kaupapa Māori more visible. Sometimes I enjoy playing with numbers for business planning purposes and improving systems and processes.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Understanding and discussing values and aspirations from two different perspectives so that we can connect more people to the environment. Business planning helps to keep everyone on the same page and working towards common goals.

Standing on the beach on Heron Island.

Heron Island

The best bit about my job is:

Networking with everyone in DOC who bring their own skills, expertise and experiences with them to work. I love learning from others and thinking of ways that I can incorporate their skills into the work that I do. Fieldwork is limited but a favourite.

Standing in front of Matua Nhāhere tree.

Awhi atu ki a Matua Ngāhere

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

I have 13 brothers and sisters.

My stomping ground is:

None other than Wellington. Although I live in the ‘burbs, I spent most of my time on the mean streets of Wellington city.

Actually, they weren’t that mean, and I really spent most of my time with my whānau. Although I’m a city girl, our holidays were spent either in Nuhaka or Waitara, which really brought me back to my roots.

My best ever holiday was:

Going up to Northland for the first time with my family in a campervan. It was the first time any of us had gone past Auckland and it’s a completely different place.

Going all the way up to Te Rerenga Wairua was the moment I will never forget. I’m not a spiritual person but you just can’t avoid it up there—so peaceful.

Visiting Te Matua Ngahere and Tāne Mahuta was another amazing experience. It is unbelievable how long they have been standing—man the memories they must have!

And lastly having the opportunity to snorkel in two of the most awesomest marine reserves (Poor Knights and Goat Island) was just the cherry on the cake.

My greatest sporting moment was when:

Probably not the greatest, but the most memorable… Playing indoor netball a couple of years back, just a social game, but I was having the game of my life!! One minute to go in the last quarter I run and jump to get the ball and go for the 2 pointer, instead I am lying on the ground, knee blown, in pain and gutted. MRI’s indicate a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and torn MM medial meniscus. Oh well, one operation and a lot of training later and at least I can stand.

My secret indulgence is:

Chips, chips and more chips.

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to:

Look after a bit of land on the skirts of the bush, right next to the beach and become a farm girl. Have a few animals, grow some fruit and veges and just chill.

Part of Leana's whanau touching a large greenstone.

Only a small bit of the whānau

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

Just do it…I know it’s not old but I think in this day and age we find so many excuses not to do something. I think if you can get past those excuses and have as many experiences as you can before your body or mind won’t let you, then…just do it.

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

Don’t get so caught up on the little things. You could spend most of your time worrying about the little things and forget about the big things.

In work and life I am motivated by:

My family.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

You don’t need to go out and do something big for conservation. Just respect Papatūānuku and she will look after you.

Leana and a friend running along the beach on Ulva Island.

Running away from the tide at Ulva Island

Question of the week…

What Māori word describes you best and why?

Two words: Māori māmā. Because a mum has to be and do everything: Teacher, nurturer, taxi-driver, pay packet, retirement fund.  Māori because of the flavour I bring to being a mum!