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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 Ofelia Webb, Technical Support based in Wellington.

At work

Ofelia cycling along the Wellington waterfront.

Cycling along the Wellington waterfront

The best bit about my job is… the continuous challenges and analysis when solving technical and/or non-technical problems and issues.

The scariest DOC moment I’ve had so far is… when an earthquake happened in Wellington, on July 19, and I was supporting one of the business users. I was sitting at his table when I felt the earthquake, so I got under his table which left him to find another one!

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… DOC as a whole, how DOC is doing what it can to help and care for the animals and its environment.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that I… am the kind of person who loves animals and nature sight-seeing as well as painting, drawing, dancing and singing. I also love taking pictures and playing video games.

My best ever holiday was… in Sagada, Philippines, with my sister, boyfriend (now husband) and friend. It was my first time to go inside a very deep and steep cave. Although scary, I enjoyed it very much and it was an unforgettable experience. We also went hiking in rice terraces and dipped in the cold water of Big Falls.

Caving in Sumaguing Cave at Sagada, Philippines.

Caving in Sumaguing Cave at Sagada, Philippines

My greatest sporting moment was when… I took an open water diving course with my hubby. I really enjoyed the scenery in open ocean water, seeing different kind of sea creatures and the challenge of trying to fight against the current. In the end, we received our open water divers card.

In my spare time I…  sing, watch movies, play video games, and cycle around Wellington with my hubby.

Before working at DOC I… worked at IRD as a technical business analyst. This was my first job here in New Zealand (I’ve been here for a year now) and before that, I worked with Singapore Central Provident Fund as a senior systems analyst. The rest of my previous work was in the Philippines.

Ofelia open water diving with her husband at Puerto Galera, Philippines.

Open water diving with my hubby at Puerto Galera, Philippines

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… nothing’s impossible…. Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… if you have failed or made a mistake, treat it as a challenge, move forward and just do your best.

In work and life I am motivated by… people around me and the challenges that I’m always facing which makes life and work more exciting and interesting.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… take care of mother nature so that she will also take care of you.

Ofelia with her family at the Big Falls in Sagada, Phillipines.

My hubby, my friend, my sister and me at Big Falls, Sagada

Question of the week…

If you lived in Middle Earth, what species of humanoid would you be? I would probably be one of the hobbits because they are simple, innocent, down-to-earth and cheerful people. Even though they are small, and not known to all, they can do great things to save the world.

Sunset from the Wellington waterfront.

Sunset scenery at Wellington waterfront

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 Callum Lilley, Biodiversity Ranger in Taranaki.

At work

Callum Lilley holding a dotterel. Photo: Emily King.

Feeding time for New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu

Some things I do in my job include… marine reserve monitoring, maintaining marine reserve infrastructure, compliance, marine mammal work, making recommendations on a range of things such as Resource Management Act consent applications/renewals, permits, seismic survey impact assessments, writing management plans, reports, public relations material, providing advice and information on marine matters, liaising/working with community groups, iwi, other stakeholders, bird rescue, assisting with fire responses, and helping out in other areas when called upon.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… helping to look after our natural heritage, and working with others to do so too.

The best bit about my job is… getting out on the water (particularly if marine mammals or diving are involved), and the occasional opportunity to go away on an adventure.

Callum deploying video equipment off a boat. Photo: Bryan Williams.

Deploying baited underwater video equipment, Tapuae Marine Reserve

The funniest DOC moment I’ve had so far is… a pest fish scare. The threats team in New Plymouth thought they would invite the Taranaki Daily News along to watch them catch a “koi carp” (to raise awareness about pest fish). The orange shape they had previously observed in a murky river turned out to be a road cone. It was an amusing article and it took up half of page (including a large colour photo). The rest of the office got a lot of mileage out of it.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… Bill Fleury. There are so many people I could choose from, but one of them is Bill. I appreciate his understanding of all levels of the Department (having worked in positions ranging from on the ground to providing strategic advice on a myriad of matters). He has exceptional analytical skills and great demeanour (as an aside, some say that I model my desk on Bill’s).

Callum surfing a wave in Fiji.

Surfing tropical waters, Frigates – Fiji

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is… ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley.

My stomping ground is… coastal Taranaki. It’s where I grew up and where I love to spend time. It has good fishing, isolated beaches, great waves, the Stony River/Hangatahua, a friend/whanau base and the best view of Maunga Taranaki.

My best ever holiday was… a three week trip to Fiji a couple of years ago. Emily and I busted out of a cold Taranaki winter into the tropics for some epic diving, surfing, fishing, eating, drinking and exploring.

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to… start a microbrewery.

Before working at DOC I… studied (BSc – Zoology, MSc – Marine Science), worked on a computer help desk, worked as a block-layer’s labourer building a rugby stadium, and taught English in South Korea.

Mount Taranaki in the background at dusk.

View of Mt Taranaki from “Graveyards” surf break

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “Give the laziest person the hardest job and they’ll find the easiest way to do it”. Not sure who first said it, or whether it is really true, but a great quote none the less.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… be nice to people.

In work and life I am motivated by… people that are fun to be around, whilst still cracking on and getting a job done.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… live modestly and outsource less. Grow your own food, cook from scratch, brew your own beverages (reuse glass and no longer worry about what the neighbours think on recycling day), pickle and preserve, hunt and eat pests… as much as you can, go back to basics.

A Southern right whale and her calf off the coast of Whanganui.

Southern right whale/tohora mother and calf, Whanganui

Question of the week…

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up? A pilot or an electrician, until I was told they were no longer options as I was colour blind. However, I wanted to be a marine scientist from when I was about 10 years old.

A sea lion by Callum's boat in the Auckland Islands.

Um… could we please have our boat back? Hoiho survey, Auckland Islands