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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 Carolyn Hawe, Training Analyst, Wellington.

Carolyn and her support crew after the Coast to Coast race.

Coast to Coast with my support crew

At work

Some things I do in my job: I am developing training for an upgrade to the software on the dataloggers that the rangers use in the field. I recently surveyed a number of rangers and Area Asset Planners on their current datalogger use and how they would like the training to take shape.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… when the rangers record their work on the datalogger we have an accurate record of the work that is carried out and can assure the government and the public that the visitor assets are maintained to a good condition and provide safe recreation experiences.

The best bit about my job is… definitely the people that I get to work with. They are so open and committed and keen to co-operate to achieve the best outcomes .

The loveliest DOC moment I’ve had so far… I am very new to the organisation, so as part of getting to know DOC I had the opportunity to spend a day with Moira Lee and Tony Whittle in Opotoki. These rangers were so keen to show me their local reserves and were so willing to share their knowledge with me.

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me the most is… Lisa Whittle, the Capability Development Manager. She inspires me in the way she works with others. She is so enthusiastic about the work that she does and is determined that any training we do meets the need of the target group. She loves meeting and visiting staff from outside National Office and her passion always shows through in the questions she asks.

Carolyn with dog Henryk on PekaPeka beach.

Me with my little dog Henryk at PekaPeka beach

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that… when I was teaching at UCOL I had the pleasure of accompanying the ecology teacher Dave Havell (now working at DOC) on field trips, doing bird counts, identifying trees and spotting bats in Pureora Forest. I also got to teach a paper on outdoor recreation philosophy – probably one of my all time favourite teaching experiences!

My stomping ground is… Hemi Matenga Reserve as I live less than 100 metres from the track start. My little border terrier absolutely loves a romp to the top and back and it keeps my fitness up too!

My best ever holiday was… six weeks in South America spent mostly in Bolivia. We had clear blue skies almost every day and the temperature varied from -20C at night to +20 during the day. The landscape was incredible – coloured lakes – red and yellow framed by mountains covered in snow and flamingos feeding around the edges. The altitude has an effect on everything – we flew over the Andes in a 10 seater plane and the pilot had to loop around to get enough height to get over. He also leaned over to ask me if I wanted some oxygen! Bolivia on the other side of the Andes has thick jungle and tributary rivers that run into the Amazon – recently flooded and red in colour when we travelled upstream to an eco lodge. We also cycled down the world’s most dangerous road – 64km downhill starting in snow and dropping 3600m in altitude to the jungle! We even met the human traffic light – a guy who lives on the road after losing his family down the incredibly steep cliff.

My greatest sporting moments were… completing my first Coast to Coast in 2006; and getting to the quarter finals of the NZ Golf Champs only to be beaten by a young Korean girl who now plays on the LPGA tour.

Before working at DOC I… Worked for a small company doing instructional design and recently developed a sustainability course for school students which made me so much more aware of the impacts that humans have on our environment.

Carolyn racing along Rangitikei River.

Rangitikei River race

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… to be yourself and follow your passion.

In work and life I am motivated by… working for others, to provide them with something better than what they had imagined or to set a good example for others to follow.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… get out and enjoy our special land and when you feel the love then you will want to do your little bit to preserve it!

Carolyn on the La Paz to Coroico road and a photo of Sajama mountain.

Worlds most dangerous road – La Paz to Coroico, Bolivia (left) Sajama, the highest mountain in Bolivia (right)

Question of the week…

What NZ bird most reflects you and why? I think a pukeko. I can be quiet and shy at times but when my confidence is up I can be quite noisy. I am also quite inquisitive too, I often explore tracks or roads that I haven’t been on and try new activities to keep life interesting.

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.