Archives For Historic

Want to understand people better? Visit the places that matter to them. Rebecca O’Brien faces the realities of West Coast life at Brunner Mine.

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To celebrate Conservation Week we challenged DOC staff around the country to recreate some dramatic photos from the past.

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Jackie Breen from DOC’s Heritage Team tells us about the dark history of Albion Square Historic Reserve’s quaint Fire Engine House

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Ranger Jim Staton is passionate about the restoration and presentation of New Zealand’s heritage because once it’s eroded or lost, it’s gone for good.

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Historic Advisor Neville Ritchie tells us the story behind Bog Inn Hut, in Pureora Forest.

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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 DOC ranger Andrew Blanshard, based in the Bay of Islands.

At work

Some things I do in my job include… I’m an archaeologist, historic assets project manager, boat skipper/manager, rodent dog handler, as well as looking after GIS,  island biosecurity, rural fire and marine mammal disentanglement.

Andrew excavating at Marsden Cross.

Andrew in his hole, excavating at Marsden Cross

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by helping to protect our historic heritage so that it will still be there for the next generation to appreciate and learn from. I help to keep our islands and special places pest free so that our unique wildlife can flourish.

The best bit about my job is managing, protecting and promoting some of the country’s most significant historic and archaeological sites. Also, working with my rodent dog on offshore islands with only the birds for company and getting out on the beautiful waters of Pewhairangi (Bay of Islands).

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is…It’s hard to narrow down to one. They include seeing the Cape Brett Lighthouse with her new coat of paint; finding the remains of New Zealand’s first Government house at Okiato; helping excavate New Zealand’s first school at Marsden Cross; spending 12 days on Kapiti with my Rodent Dog ‘Tike’ and getting to know this wonderful Island a bit better.

Tike looking at orca from a boat.

My rodent dog ‘Tike’ getting a view of orca

On a personal note

If I could trade places with any other person for a week it would be a crewman on Captain Cook’s voyages. I would love to see what the Pacific looked like before European Influences.

My best ever holiday was a working holiday sailing to 80 degrees north above Svalbard (Norway).

Andrew after 6 weeks in the field in Mongolia.

Looking a bit grubby after 6 weeks in the field

In my spare time I am involved in ongoing archaeological projects in Mongolia and Colorado.

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to be floating around the Pacific on a boat or being a ski bum…

Before working at DOC I was an archaeologist, driving instructor, kitchen designer and salesman.

The excavation crew just after uncovering New Zealand's first Government House.

The excavation crew just after uncovering New Zealand’s first Government House

Deep and meaningful

My favourite quote is “Give out, don’t give up!”

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is You have two ears and one mouth therefore listen twice as much as you talk!! (a hard one for me!!)

Training for disentangling large marine mammals.

Learning how to disentangle large marine mammals.

In work and life I am motivated by sharing my passion for Aotearoa/New Zealand’s unique and varied history.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is before going on an OE, make sure you have seen the beauties of your own country! Once you realise how special it is, GET INVOLVED with one of the brilliant conservation focused community groups/projects that we are lucky enough to have in abundance.

Andrew in Colorado, USA.

In red rock canyon country: Paradox Valley, Colorado.

Question of the week…

What was your favourite childhood toy and do you still have it?

A little Snoopy stuffed toy, which yes, is still with me in the garage.

Arthur’s Pass recently celebrated 150 years since the European opening of the route that linked the east coast to the gold fields in the west.

The official opening the new Arthur’s Pass Walking Track was one of the events that marked the occasion.

DOC Ranger Tom Williams, writes:

DOC Director-General, Lou Sanson, speaking at the official opening of the Arthur's Pass walking track.

DOC Director-General, Lou Sanson, speaking at the official opening of the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track

150 years ago today (or thereabouts), in a time when an ‘epic’ was just a part of everyday life, the Dobson brothers stumbled across a pass linking the east coast to the gold fields in the west. That pass was Arthur’s Pass.

Legend has it that Arthur’s Pass isn’t named after Arthur Dudley Dobson as such, but rather that someone remarked that Arthur’s pass was the most suitable pass for direct travel to the west.

The name stuck, and Arthur’s Pass became one of only two places in New Zealand to have an apostrophe! (The other is Hawke’s Bay.)

Celebrations of this feat of discovery occurred over the weekend and resulted in the population of the pass swelling by over 400%.

Cutting the ribbon! Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, and Zeb Patterson (the great, great, great, grandson of Arthur Dudley Dobson), open the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track

Cutting the ribbon! Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, and Zeb Patterson (the great, great, great, grandson of Arthur Dudley Dobson), open the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track

Festivities commenced on the Friday night with the unveiling of a bronze kea statue. As we unveiled the taonga, a member of the audience did a sterling haka, and a real kea flew over us.

Arthur’s Pass is one of the best places in New Zealand to see these amazing birds.


Arthur’s Pass is one of the best places in New Zealand to see kea.

In typical Arthur’s Pass fashion, the main attraction—the official opening of the Arthur’s Pass walking track—was accompanied by clear skies and warm weather.

The creation of the new track, however, was no easy feat. DOC staff, and the contractors constructing the track, had to cope with the extremes of local weather.

So far the track has coped with many deluges of rain, gale force winds, blistering sun, a minus 17 degree frost, and a 2 metre snow dump!

Testing out the new Arthur's Pass Walking Track.

Many people took the opportunity to take a guided walk of the track and discover some of the magical flora and fauna of the pass

For those travelling to other places through the Pass, the route travelled has changed significantly from what it was 150 years ago.

Back then the journey took a long time. Once the coach road was constructed (can you believe that they managed to build the road from east to west in one year!) the journey was reduced to four days. Today it is a pleasant two hours to Christchurch, or one hour to the West Coast.

Discover the heritage and fantastic scenery of the Arthur’s Pass walking track yourself. Further information and directions can be found on the DOC website.