Archives For Hamilton

Hamilton’s Jeff Neems benefits from the work of many committed volunteers when native birds arrive to enjoy the trees on his urban property.

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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 Nic Gorman, Research Technician based in Hamilton.

At work

Some things I do in my job include… acting as a link between our field team scattered around the country, and the project leader sitting at the desk beside mine. So that mainly entails getting traps and other equipment to where they’re needed, collating and auditing the data coming in, and doing what I can to keep the people at both ends of the equation happy.

Unfortunately we went and hired a very capable group for our field team, so it’s not that often that I get dragged out of the office to help them out in person.

Nic holding a falcon at Wingspan in Rotorua.

In my ‘happy place’, meeting Atareta at the Wingspan Trust, Rotorua

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… keeping the Department up to pace with the latest developments in pest control technology, figuring out if these things are of use to us and if so in what scenarios, and further extending the range of tools we have available to us in the battle against the pests.

The best bit about my job is… being involved when what could potentially be the next big step-up in ground-based predator control hits the ground. It is pretty exciting (and a thought that helps me get through the most stressful days). Also, getting to know the great bunch of people who have been out there doing the groundwork for us, both the current team and their various predecessors.

The loveliest DOC moment I’ve had so far is… any time spent sitting under a pair of kōkako singing at full blast is right up there.

One time that particularly sticks in my memory is a morning I had a volunteer in tow. A few minutes into the song peak he pulled out his phone, rang his disabled sister, and just quietly said, “listen to this”.

I’m glad to have been part of someone experiencing something that she probably would never be able to otherwise. Actually I’m choking up a bit just remembering that….

(This, by the way, is not an open invitation for anyone to ever ring me at that time of the morning, whatever it is that you’re listening to at the time!)

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… this is the hard one, when just about everyone I’ve met through work has been inspirational in some way. But someone who personifies all the great things about the people who work for the Department is Pete Livingstone, over at Opotiki. He’s someone who has all the knowledge and field nous you’d expect of someone who’s spent a big chunk of their life in the forest, is always keen to upskill with the latest science-driven field techniques, just quietly gets things done whatever life and the environment throws in the way… and so damn humble that he’ll be hating me for singling him out like this!

Nic impersonating a pirate at the Benneydale Research Station.

Working at the Massey University Benneydale Research Station duties included nest-finding, 4WD testing, rat control and even pirate impersonation

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is Buffalo by the Phoenix Foundation, the bounciness of the song more than makes up for the slight biological inaccuracy of the lyrics. Actually pretty much anything by those guys will do the trick.

My best ever holiday was probably my most recent one, an all-too-short trip to New Caledonia late last year, avoiding resorts and trying to get a bit more face-to-face with the place. I got to indulge in all my favourite things, good food, wildlife spotting, orienteering, and while I arrived with little or no expectations, by the time I left I was starting to plot my next visit.

My greatest sporting moment? There’s a handful of age-class national orienteering titles I could point to, but I’m actually prouder of the few years I somehow got myself fit enough to race against the big boys at the elite level (note that I don’t say ‘compete’ at the elite level) and gained a whole new appreciation of just how quick these guys are in the terrain.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be a kākā. Anything that flies would be good, but I’ve always had the impression watching our parrots, that more so than any other birds they’re fully aware just how cool it is being airborne. They have fun with it! And I’m more of a forest guy than a mountain guy, so kākā it is.

Nic face to face with a kagu bird.

Face to face with the kagu, Parc Riviere Bleue, New Caledonia

Before working at DOC in this role, there were many years on the conservation biology contracting circuit working for DOC, regional councils, universities and the like, in mostly, but not always, field-based roles. Everything from operating traplines in the Mackenzie Country, hauling sugar water up Kapiti Island for the benefit of hihi, editing Regional Park resource documents, and most recently running the field operations of a Massey University research programme looking into the ecology of forest remnants in an otherwise modified landscape. It’s fascinating every Friday reading of the different pathways people have taken to DOC, and I feel a bit dull by comparison, but I guess I’m lucky to have almost always been doing what I wanted to do for as long as I can remember.

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is “You cannot reason somebody out of a position they did not reason themselves into” – Mark Twain, I believe. It’s almost as if he anticipated the internet as a forum for ‘debate’.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is that sometimes it’s a good idea to pay attention when people are handing out advice. Unfortunately I can’t attribute this to anyone in particular, I just have this vague sense that somebody has probably told me this at some point.

Nic robin tracking at the Massey University Benneydale Research Station.

Robin tracking at the Massey University Benneydale Research Station

In work and life I am motivated by the idea of making a difference.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is to get out there in amongst nature, discover what we’ve got, and the chances are you’ll enjoy it enough that you’ll then want to look into how you can contribute to keeping it.

Ahuriri Valley.

Whenever I start feeling desk-bound and thinking about the things I miss about fieldwork, those delightful spring afternoons in the Ahuriri Valley are usually up near the top of the list

Question of the week…

If you had to be a comic character, which one would you be and why?

As long as there was always a supply of magic potion handy, then sign me up as one of the Gauls from Asterix. Just a shame that if we could make that happen, the powers-that-be would probably decide that the best fit for me would be Cacofonix, the bard.

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 Carisse de Beer,  Permissions Advisor – Hamilton Shared Service Centre.

At work

Name: Carisse de Beer
Position: Permissions Advisor
Office: Hamilton Shared Service Centre

Carisse with a rescued baby silvereye.

Obi Wan, the rescued baby silvereye. That was the first time I’ve ever held a wild bird

Some things I do in my job include…receiving and analysing applications for concessions, writing reports and then making recommendations on those applications. Part of my job also includes liaising and working closely with a wide range of people within the department and externally, solving problems, and ensuring that concessions are processed to set timeframes.

The best bit about my job is… that it gives me the ability to learn new and interesting things about our flora and fauna. I try to learn something new every day.

A hihi on a branch at Maungatautari Ecological Island.

A favourite pass time – watching birds. I snapped this little hihi at Maungatautari Ecological Island

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… I haven’t been at DOC for very long (3 months!) but I love having some part to play in conservation, even if I am in an office all day at the moment.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… Don Merton. He was a pioneer in conservation and his work, dedication and enthusiasm for New Zealand’s “national monuments” like the kakapo and kiwi, and the wonderful little black robin, is inspiring. I love telling my friends and family (and any one who will listen) of Old Blue, Old Yellow and Don Merton’s genius in taking a population of only 5 birds and rescuing them from the brink of extinction. He did so much for New Zealand conservation and even today I like to think he continues to do so much through the knowledge we’ve gained from him.

A monarch butterfly on Carisse's hand.

Monarch butterfly

On a personal note

Most people don’t know that I… have an insect collection and a small herbarium. Both were university projects and are my pride and joy.

If I could trade places with any other person for a week-famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional-it would be… Sir David Attenborough. How amazing would it be to travel the world in my pale blue shirt and khaki slacks, investigating the secret lives of plants and watching the elaborate mating dance of the superb bird of paradise? I grew up watching David Attenborough and, as a child, so much of what I knew and loved about animals came from his documentaries. Now, as an adult, I will still sit at home on a rainy day re-watching Life of Birds. I don’t think it’ll ever get old!

Carisse wearing a wig and gown.

Taking a bad hair day to the next level

In my spare time I… like to go bird watching. I also like to bake and decorate cakes. Cake, in many ways, makes all things better.

Deep and meaningful

My favourite quote is… “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… to never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

A collection of insects.

Adding to my collection

In work and life I am motivated by… passionate people. These are the people that have inspired and motivated me to keep working towards my own goals, even at the worst of times. I love that at DOC, these people seem to be everywhere!

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… to treat every living thing and its home with respect.

A cupcake with grass, a mushroom and animals as decoration.

One of my creations – a biology-themed cupcake