Archives For Department of Conservation

Pauline and Jim Moore of Wellington are volunteer wardens at Anaura Bay campsite. We talked to them about why they return to this popular holiday hot-spot every year and why they volunteer for DOC.

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DOC employee and film maker Claudia Babirat.

Claudia Babirat

As part of the Conservation Awards this year, DOC Otago decided to celebrate two major milestones. One – the Department of Conservation turns 25 years old. Two – the amazing contribution the public has made (and is making) to conservation.

We were so inspired by these achievements that we decided to share with them with the rest of the country – the world even! To this end we got documentary filmmaker Claudia Babirat to produce two short videos for the big screen. This is what she has to say:

Ever since I was a little girl, DOC has been like a hero to me. The rangers did amazing things like save wildlife from the brink of extinction, controlled nasty predators, worked as archaeologists. I had a secret dream that one day I too would work for DOC. But wildlife filmmaking and science writing was always my number one passion.

That’s why, when DOC asked me if I wanted to make a couple of films about conservation in Otago (my home province), I jumped at the chance

The first film celebrates the fact that DOC turns 25 years old this year.


One of the things that really impressed me was just how many of the original rangers (i.e. from the establishment in 1987) are still around. They’ve dedicated their lives to conservation, and I think that’s pretty inspirational.

The other thing that struck me was how much of what we take for granted these days, has been the result of DOC’s hard work. For example, popular attractions like the Otago Central Rail Trail, which brings in an estimated $12 million to the province’s communities each year, was actually strongly opposed when its formation was first suggested! We now have conservation parks dedicated to tussock grasslands (as opposed to just forests). Several new species of rare galaxiids (a type of freshwater fish, which includes whitebait) in Otago were discovered as recently as the 1990s. The list goes on.

The second film recognises the fact that it hasn’t just been DOC that has contributed to all of these amazing achievements. In fact, many of them wouldn’t have been possible without the help and dedication of a whole range of people, including passionate individuals and volunteers, community groups, trusts, iwi, local authorities, landowners, and businesses. Each contribute in their own unique way – from fencing off their creek banks to help protect spawning sites for giant kokopu (one of those freshwater galaxiids I mentioned), to building and maintaining predator-proof sanctuaries, to providing sponsorship for long-term protection of precious wildlife such as the jewelled gecko and the takahe.


Producing the second film gave me a lot of hope for New Zealand’s future There are so many people out there who are passionate about conservation in New Zealand, and we can all make a difference.

In fact, I was so inspired that I made my child-hood dream a reality. I now work for DOC Otago as Community Outreach Coordinator – a brand new position aimed at helping more communities take part in conservation and enjoy all the things that make New Zealand the beautiful place it is.

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 Deputy Director-General Business Services Group, Grant Baker.

Me on the Tongariro Crossing with the Emerald lakes in the background

At work…

Name: Grant Baker.

Position:Deputy Director-General, Business Services Group (BSG).

What kind of things do you do in your role?

I provide leadership and guidance to my managers to ensure that BSG provides the high level of support and service required for DOC to meet its obligations. This includes ensuring we have the funding to continue to balance our budgets now and in the future and that all our systems operate and are supported so that staff can do their work.

I support Al is his role as Director-General, and my Deputy Director-General colleagues in their work, and make sure that work is fun and enjoyable—not always the easiest thing to do.

What is the best part about your job?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata; you, our people, are extremely good at what you do. And visiting people and places across DOC, which is a key part of my job. 

What is the hardest part about your job?

Going into bat for conservation with central agencies and convincing them of the benefit that conservation makes to the economy and to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

What led you to your role in DOC?

My first career was in broadcasting engineering as a radio technician at 2ZW Wanganui, and then into management at an early age in Radio and Television engineering. In the late 1990s, after 27 years in broadcasting, it was time to try something new, and the opportunity arose to join DOC as one of the three Regional General Managers as part of the re-structuring of DOC post Cave Creek. One could say I haven’t looked back since. 

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

It’s always great to get to the end of another (financial) year, have the new Statement of Intent signed off by Cabinet and in place, know that we have come in within last year’s budget, have balanced the budget for the years ahead, and have delivered on all of our work in the year just completed. 

On the Abel Tasman track near Torrent Bay

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Family. I’m married to Margaret, with four sons and four grandchildren around the world.
  2. Playing cricket and golf. I’ve played cricket in most of the playing continents of the world—New Zealand, Australia, Africa, North America, South America, Great Britain, West Indies and Sri Lanka (and as a result, have also played golf in those places).
  3. Travel—to spectacular places around the world, whether it’s for visiting family, going to international vintage cricket tournaments or just sheer enjoyment.

Three pet peeves

  1. Having nothing to do—I can’t just sit down and do nothing.
  2. People who litter.
  3. People who are inconsiderate of others. 

Three foods

  1. Whitebait fritters and oysters.
  2. Any hot meat and three veg.
  3. Apple pie and ice cream. 

White Island and Anchor Island

Three favourite places in New Zealand

In DOC you get to travel to some amazing places which makes this question hard to answer.

So, in my case these are three spectacular places I have been privileged to visit with DOC rather than spectacular golf holes or cricket grounds… and it still means I have to leave out many amazing places…..

Dusky Sound

    1. White Island—what an amazing landscape, very active volcanic area, and hard to image how tough life would have been living and working out there.
    2. Anchor Island/Dusky Sound—on a clear night the sky is teeming with stars and with no interference the scene is brilliant. No wonder Captain Cook came back twice to star gaze. 
    3. Tane Mahuta—there is something about standing in front of a kauri that has been growing for over a thousand years and still survives. Gives you that feeling of eternal life.

Tane Mahuta

Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie: The Life of Brian or any of the Monty Python movies, they are all a great laugh….
  • Album: The Beatles – White Album – their ninth album and the first one under the Apple Label.
  • Book: The 39 Steps – John Buchan. One of the early thrillers.

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

You only live once, make the most of your life and enjoy every step of the journey.

Who or what inspires you and why?

In my youth I was inspired by Murray Halberg, a person who quietly went about his business of running and inspired many with his Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medals and world records. He was New Zealand’s first sub four minute miler and in later life he set up the Halberg Trust which supports children with disabilities.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I left school not really knowing what I wanted to be… and just started work. The career advice from college was along the lines of accountancy or maybe being a secret agent. Hence radio seemed a better idea.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A professional golfer, but of course a good one that doesn’t get the putting yips…

All ready to go into bat – Golden Oldies Tournament Queenstown 2008

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Having just built a sustainable home and getting both the health and cost benefits, I’m even more convinced that anyone building a new home must include sustainable features—the benefits are so good that its a no brainer. But New Zealanders get trapped by not wanting to spend the very small amount extra at the start and as a result miss out.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

To ensure that everyone understands that what goes down the gutter, at home or in the street, flows into our streams and harbours.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

There’s plenty to choose from, maybe a weta or a New Zealand Falcon. But I’ve selected the tuatara; they, like me, have been around a long time, in theory with strong knowledge and experience—survivors.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

New Zealand’s economy relies on conservation in its many guises; all of us have a part to play to ensure that our living space is kept in the best possible condition for our grandchildren.

Every Friday Jobs at DOC takes you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

Today we profile DOC Visitor Centre/i-Site Ranger Ivy Willmott.

A good day at work

Name: Ivy Willmott.

Position: Ranger, DOC Visitor Centre/i-SITE. 

At work…


What kind of things do you do in your role?

Being one of the front line laydees of goodness and joy at the Franz Josef Visitor Center and i-SITE, I answer phones, radios and lots and lots of questions every day. I chat about everything from the weather, DOC projects, campsites, tramping, day hikes, Great Walks, hunting, fishing, the glaciers, travel, New Zealand, Franz, Fox, eating, drinking, jumping out of planes, riding horses… the list is endless!

We are constantly learning—thank goodness for the awesome DOC website with the answers to nearly any DOC-related question.

I help book people onto whatever activity they want to do, find and book accommodation all over New Zealand, sort out travel plans… basically help folks have the best holiday/trip possible. I LOVE IT!!!


What is the best part about your job?

Helping people smile and enjoy their day and remove the stress that many folks seem to find on holiday! Crazy Moogs!

Every day is a happy day!

Watching the wave of relief wash over folks as bookings are made, travel plans are sorted, and watching the good holiday juju work it’s way back onto their faces as they trot off to enjoy this beautiful country.

Followed swiftly by getting to sample all the amazing activities on offer in the area in the name of research… Yeeaaaaaooooooow! AWESOME! You gotta know it to sell it!

Franz Josef Glacier hike


What is the hardest part about your job?

Trying to convince people you have no control over the West Coast weather. Rude people, impatient people, and trying to keep the ability to smile over it all. Not being able to wear bright colours! Ha, nah, it’s all sweet… not much to not be happy about here!


What led you to your role in DOC?

I’m originally from Scotland with a career as a Theatre Stage Manager. Nine years of fun and mischief worldwide led me to New Zealand, where I have been for eight years. Working with environmental community groups in the resource recovery field for the last three years, but having a yearning for the West Coast, led me to Franz Josef.

As well as having a good crew of mates that worked within the department, but mostly the awesome Kiwi team here on the coast and their enthusiasm for their work. The opportunity arose to join the wonderful Visitor Centre/i-SITE team and here I am… BooOm!!!

Quadbiking in Nelson, Happy Valley


What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Well, research this month was pretty spectacular. Going on two glacier heli trips was pretty amazing, hmmmmm, so was horse trekking on a crispy sunny spotless winter morning with breathtaking views over Mount Elie De Beaumont….

But what did take the biscuit was my first Area day. Getting to put faces to the names and voices I deal with daily. Getting to see what all the different groups have been up to for the past year. Awesome jobs all round, and that’s just our Area!

The rule of 3…

3 loves

  1. My dog Munter.
  2. Having dreams and ambitions and having them coming true.
  3. Good recyclers. 


3 pet peeves

  1. Litter on the roadside… actually litter anywhere it shouldn’t be.
  2. Rude people.
  3. Lateness.

3 foods

  1. Pizza.
  2. Rock and roll chick pea gravy and mash (recipe available on request!).
  3. Roast chicken and veg cooked in the camp oven on the beach at sunset!

3 favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Any of the wonderful South Island West Coast beaches…. The salty wind on your face, the sound of crashing waves, sunset, wine and good friends—heaven.
  2. The summit of Treble Cone after a big snow dump, bluebird day, good friends, chocolate and mulled wine. The snowy mountains and Lake Wanaka feeding the soul.
  3. I have to say, sitting up at Almer Hut having a picnic with the laydees on Boxing Day, looking down the Franz Josef Glacier and out to the Tasman sea was ridiculously special! 

Hmmmmm I feel a theme… nature, fine food, fine wine, and fine friends, and I’m a happy gal.

Snowboarding up Treble Cone summit


Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie: Oooh a toss up between Big Fish and Cinema Paradiso.
  • Album: The Band – The Band.
  • Book: The Power of One.
     

Deep and meaningful…


What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

I would love to think sense has got the better of me and I would say ‘Do something that will make you money’. Ha, but nope, I think it would be ‘Follow your dream, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it, but maybe learn a skill like welding, or cheffing or hairdressing to help you out of those tight financial spots!’ Hmmmm…. also, ‘Don’t leave it until your mid 30s to try Brandy Alexander’s!’

Me and my juggling clubs


Who or what inspires you and why?

My mum…. Not only did she teach me the joys of self sufficiency, she always taught me to follow my heart; that no dream is too big, and it’s never too late to change. Always do what makes you happy. She definitely taught me to keep my cup half full.


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A Stage Manager… from as soon as I knew that was actually a job!


And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A bread baking, veggie growing, cheese making, goat milking, fine feast making mum.


What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Less is more! Reduce and reuse before you recycle, and if you have to buy something, buy a good make—more expensive, but will last a lot longer than most of the plastic nonsense about these days.

Picnic lunch up Almer Hut

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

I definitely want to get my veg patch cranking! I finally have a garden space to do this. Wooohooo….


If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

Definitely a kereru. So plump and happy, hanging out getting drunk on rata berries all day, trying to fly my plump self about, and such beautiful colours!

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Reduce, reuse then recycle. Stop driving when you don’t have to… and when you recycle…WASH and SQUASH!!!

By Siobhan File

As part of the DOC’s 25th anniversary celebrations, I asked around to see what posters DOC staff had tucked away from yester-years. Check them out and vote for your favourite…

Knowledge on these posters is limited, so if you have any information about these, or any gems of your own hidden away, I’d love to hear from you!


Care for your country – 1973

This is by the famous Wellington cartoonist Nevile Lodge who must have been specially commissioned to do this poster.

Care for your country

Conservation is all year – 1976

This is a favourite for many. It was designed by Howard Campbell and was the winning entry in a competition sponsored by Todd Group and WWF.


Save us a place to live – 1979

This lovely poster was created by Don Binney, produced for the National Conservation Week Campaign Committee, with assistance from the L.D Nathan Group of Companies.


Nature’s place in town – 1981

And we move into the eighties… A Conservation New Zealand poster; simple, and to the point.


Reflect your concern. Plant a tree – 1981

It’s Conservation Week, but this guy doesn’t look too happy about it. Nice inclusion of Arbor Day messaging though.


The alpine world

This poster was developed at Mount Cook in the mid 1980s in conjunction with the publication of an A4 book The Alpine World of Mount Cook National Park.

A similar poster was printed for Tongariro National Park, but the concept didn’t get used for a wider national message.

Len Cobb from Cobb/Horwood, who did many of the National Park A5 handbooks, did the production.


Tread gently on the ice

This poster was produced by DOC staff member Harry Keys when he worked at the Commission for the Environment (CFE) in the mid 80s. CFE had become part of the government’s delegation at meetings of the Antarctic Treaty parties which, at the time, were dominated by the question of how to assess proposals for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and development in the Antarctic region. It was widely displayed in post offices throughout New Zealand.

Tread gently on the ice


People need plants

It’s true. A lovely landscape produced by the Post Office Savings Bank for Conservation New Zealand.


Shelter from the storm

The wild and uncompromising nature of New Zealand has given rise to a unique diversity of shelters and huts scattered throughout our back country. This collection of images was put together by the Federated Mountain Club, supported by the Hillary Commission.

Shelter from the storm


New Zealand’s Forest Parks

Something for everyone! Contact your nearest Forest Services office for a wide range of experiences and recreational activities.


Community forests and woodlands

Produced in 1985 for International Year of the Forest.


Conservation Week 2009

This poster was designed by Saatchi & Saatchi – a snapshot of the future!


Conservation Week 2009

Get involved in conservation and who knows… a clever campaign that conjures a whole heap of ‘what if’ thoughts.

Conservation Week 2009 – 2


What’s your favourite?

So, what is your favourite poster? Vote in our poll (below). Any memories around these? If you have info to add about any of these posters, comment below and we’ll add it to the descriptions. If you have copies of your own posters that you’d like to share, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

The history of Conservation Week posters

In the early seventies, Conservation Week came under the umbrella of the Nature Conservation Council, with other agencies and organisations represented on a Conservation Week committee. Each year, with sponsorship, it produced a promotional poster and a themed teaching poster with teachers’ notes.

Last week I came across this video—a beautiful compilation of footage from around New Zealand, featuring some spectacular scenery across public conservation land.

Check out New Zealand Timelapse Presentation and the interview with the film maker, Bong Bajo, below!

Interview with film maker Bong Bajo

Name: Bong Bajo (from the Philippines)

Kaikoura landscape

What inspired you to make this video?

I’m a photography enthusiast. My forte is landscape photography. I remember seeing great shots of New Zealand and, ever since, it has been my dream to capture New Zealands’s grandeur using my camera. And since I haven’t seen many timelapse videos of New Zealand, I decided to focus my photo shoot on capturing timelapse.

What was your favourite filming/photography location?

I’m into landscape photography, always in search of locations with great scenery. In New Zealand, Mount Cook National Park was the best location for me. There were lots of areas to shoot. I loved those huge moving clouds—the lenticular cloud over Mount Cook—and their change in colour after sunset. The alpenglow was also great. Actually, I regretted that I never had the chance to explore all locations. I’m definitely coming back.

Milford Sound

What part was the hardest to capture?

Tasman Sea on the West Coast was challenging. The Motukiekie formations area was a good spot for photography, but the ocean swell was crazy. For a few minutes, water was low, then all of a sudden it rose to waist deep. Very dangerous.

What do you hope Kiwis take away from your video?

You guys are blessed with an immense and very diverse landscape. You should be proud—show and share this to the whole world. Save them for future generations to enjoy.

Tasman Glacier

How long did this take you to make?

It was a 15-day trip. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.

It took me over a week to edit the timelapse video, including the photos.

Apart from the timelapse, was there much post production work?

Much work was done on converting photos into videos. Colours were already in the shots, although they were enhanced a bit, since I was shooting some scenes in RAW. The secret to shooting the right colors was to wait for them to come out naturally. This means waking up early in the morning to hike and catch sunrise colors. And shooting at sunset up until the twilight colors come out and disappear.

In timelapse photography, it’s important to get the photos right during the shoot, i.e. the right exposure and color, because it’s going to be hard editing each photo in post production after taking thousands of shots.

Kea Point

How did you create the star trail images?

The beauty of timelapse photography is that it can make slow moving objects appear to move faster. Stars do move (relative to the Earth – because of Earth’s rotation). In order to capture the movement, I took timed shots of the stars; one shot for every 30 seconds, for one to two hours. Then, I put each frame side-by-side in 30 frames per second. That makes the effect of moving stars in the video. For the still image of the star trails, I stacked all the shots using software from startrail.de. That put together all the shots of the stars in one frame.

Purakaunui Falls

At times the camera was panning at the same time as filming. How did you do this?

I wish I had dollies and cranes to make my camera move. However, I packed so much equipment (three cameras, five lenses, two tripods, and lots of accessories), that I didn’t have an extra hand for dollies. I only used tripods (non moving).

I created the panning and zooming effect in Adobe Premiere Pro. Since my raw material (photos) were shot in 12 to 18 megapixels, I could crop on them easily without losing the quality of 1080p HD (two megapixels per frame only), and move that frame in the photo as the video was being rendered. Imagine having a huge photo, cropping a frame on the left, and moving that frame to the right as the video is being rendered. That makes for the panning effect. Next time, I’ll bring a crane :).

Stars in timelapse

Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience in New Zealand. You say that New Zealand is “the land of the long white cloud” and indeed it is, as I experienced it. But, for me, it is also a land of immense and diverse landscapes. And there’s no exaggerating that. The timelapse presentation will show you why.

Busking for kea

Siobhan File —  02/11/2011

Singing on the sidewalk and sizzling sausages are just some of the fundraising efforts made by Tairua School students to help save our native species.

Denise, Tim and Jack busking outside Tairua Four Square

After learning about New Zealand’s biodiversity, Room 5 students wanted to make a difference; and that they did. All together they raised a grand total of $495!

“We did good busking in the streets of Tairua, and we made $59.00 in just under an hour,” says Tim, who was in the Kea group.

Kea, tuatara, kokako, kakapo and the yellow eyed penguin were the chosen species, all receiving a boost to their survival chances thanks to these budding young conservationists.

Mohini and Maddie with the kakapo donation box

“The tuatara’s a unique animal to New Zealand. It’s one of the dinosaurs that’s been here for a million years, and if we don’t save them… who will?” says Henry, whose group raised $270 for DOC’s tuatara recovery project.

The tuatara group raffled off a board of scratchies

Children approached local businesses to ask for donations, organised a raffle with $50 worth of scratchies up for grabs, placed donation boxes in shops, sold good old fashioned sausages, and sang along to Tim’s guitar playing outside the local Four Square. They also put up posters around the community, promoted their cause on the radio, and advertised in the school newsletter.

The students’ teacher, Samantha Telfar, says the students initiated their action plans to help save an endangered species of their choice. “I’m really pleased with the students’ progress and enthusiasm they are showing for their native species projects,” she says.

The yellow eyed penguin group put posters in shops around town

Jaxon, who studied kakapo, learnt that “some are friendly, some are cruisy, and some are big eaters.”

Tairua locals are also big eaters, spending $73.80 on barbequed sausages, with funds helping out kokako.

Connor and the money raised for the kokako

“The plan is to have a kokako in every back yard, and so many we can harvest them,” says Glenn Kilpatrick, helping out behind the barbie.

The students presented their achievements to the class, including information on what they’d learnt, and what they’d do a second time around. Each group was happy with the fantastic results they’d achieved for their chosen species, and wished to thank everyone who’d donated towards their cause.