DOC’s Don Herron shares his experiences from his night working as the Duty Ranger on Matiu/Somes Island.Continue Reading...
Archives For Matiu
We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week (15-21 June 2014). Join us as we share stories of the volunteers who contribute to conservation.
Matiu/Somes Island had been on my list of places to visit in Wellington since I moved here 7 years ago and, when I recently spotted a volunteering opportunity online, I knew it would be a great way to see some of the island and at the same time play my part in helping to protect and restore it.
It was a calm morning when I arrived down on the Wellington waterfront to catch the ferry across to the island.
15 of us showed up (all complete strangers) and we were all keen to get stuck in and help out Rangers Jo and Emma, who live on the island and look after it.
Once on the island we were taken through the biosecurity process and then made our way up to the Visitor Centre.
Jo and Emma had jobs lined up for us and gave us plenty of options to make sure we did jobs that we enjoyed.
I chose some of the more physical jobs and ended up helping regravel some tracks, clear overgrown paths and gutters and clean out the gun emplacements on the top of the island – the last of which offered some amazing 360° views around the harbour.
At lunch time we were able to explore the island and check out the historic lighthouse and quarantine facilities. There was also an array of native species on the island to look out for, including kākāriki, tuatara, giant weta and little blue penguins.
The volunteers were a great group of people and it was the enthusiasm that everyone bought to the day that made sure it was never dull or difficult.
The time seemed to fly by and after a few more jobs after lunch it was time to head back down to the ferry.
A stunning island, a sunny day, some physical activity (who needs a gym?) and meeting a great group of people. What more could you want? I can’t wait to go back and help out again!
By Amy Brasch, Partnerships Ranger, Wellington
An island biosecurity hui was recently held on Matiu/Somes Island to review the best island biosecurity management practices, current biosecurity procedures, and to discuss methods for increasing awareness and participation.
Local iwi, DOC rangers, relevant community groups, island associates and media gathered on Matiu/Somes Island to review the importance of island biosecurity and discuss opportunities for strengthening procedures.
The hui was not only a great opportunity to hear biosecurity ideas and improve our practices, but also to share those ideas with our partners that help us care for these incredible islands. The reality is there will always be biosecurity risks to our islands.
DOC Island Services Rangers and other DOC staff work hard to keep these islands pest-free by putting considerable effort into removing and controlling pests and carrying out appropriate quarantine measures on islands.
Pest plants and animals can have detrimental effects on native biodiversity, so it was great to partner up with local iwi and businesses to figure out ways to keep pest animals and plants off the islands together.
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 Stacey Perkins, Service/CITES Programme Manager, Wellington.
Some things I do in my job include… co-ordinate/manage the area’s business plan, health & safety, fleet/uniform, recruitment/payroll, general administration/finance and Wellington/Lower North Island CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) operational functions. I’m also an occasional island minder and standby officer.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… providing our people with the equipment, resources and tools they need to effectively achieve conservation outcomes. The Human Resource work helps DOC employ people with the skills to carry the organisation into the future. The CITES work contributes to the protection of endangered species of animals and plants nationally and internationally along with 177 other countries that are party to the ‘Convention’.
The funniest/strangest/loveliest/scariest/awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… there have been many memorable moments in my 18 years with DOC so narrowing this to one is difficult…but I will go with the Irish single malt whiskey treasure hunt on Matiu/Somes Island (Wellington Harbour) to see in the New Year (2011) with a group of about 20 colleagues and friends. This evening had it all: good times, good company, amazing weather, interesting wildlife and a beautiful (DOC) location. It was great fun!
The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… this is also difficult to narrow down, as there are so many wonderful people at DOC (past and present), but I will have to go with my old mate, Keith Dyett. Keith epitomises having a positive outlook on life. We have had many work and social gatherings together over the years. He is always willing to listen and share stories and experiences from life. Keith is one of the most philosophical and wise people I have had the pleasure to meet so far.
I would also like to give special mention to Colin Giddy. I have worked with Colin since 2010 when Kapiti Wellington Area was formed and we have become good friends. Colin has continued to have a really positive attitude even through recent difficult times of change at DOC. Thanks Colin for continuing to fight the good fight! There are many other great and inspiring people I have meet at DOC but cannot mention them all in the scope of this ‘profile’ but hopefully they know who they are?
On a personal note…
Most people don’t know that I… am very keen and interested in dog sledding and have been to the Yukon twice (in 2009 and 2012) to participate in activities. I would like to live in the Yukon for one to two years to help train and compete in the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile dog sled race from Whitehorse in the Yukon to Fairbanks in Alaska during the Arctic winter. I have also written poetry since 1985 and have a collection of approximately 30 poems.
The song that always cheers me up is… having a collection of 1,000+ CDs, 200+ cassette tapes and a few LP records (that are slowly but surely growing in number), it is very difficult for me to pick one song. But the one that resonates the most for me and has regularly gotten air play at special occasions over the years is ‘Lightning crashes’ by Live! (YouTube it).
Other long time favourite songs of mine include ‘The River’ by Bruce Springsteen, ‘Nightswimming’ by REM, ‘God of Wine’ by Third Eye Blind, ‘Mrs Potters Lullaby’ by Counting Crows, ‘Patience’ by Guns ’n’ Roses, ‘North’ by Digawolf, ‘Washed away’ by Tom Cochrane and ‘Iris’ by Goo Goo Dolls to name a few.
My stomping ground is… being a Hutt Valley (Petone) boy at heart I would have to say most of the lower valley including, Percy’s Reserve, Rimutaka Forest Park, Day’s Bay and Matiu/Somes Island. Also, Petone Memorial Park for soccer and Lyall Bay and Titahi Bay for surfing. Beyond the fair shores of Aotearoa I would have to say Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia (for relaxing) and Whitehorse in the Yukon, Canada (for outdoor pursuits, nature and adventure). I like spending a large portion of my leisure time near the sea and now reside close to Plimmerton Beach, Wellington.
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… Nostradamus. When I was 10 years old I did some research on and a speech about Nostradamus. I wasn’t great at doing research and I didn’t like speaking in front of groups of people but when my mother suggested I do a speech about Nostradamus I found it fascinating, and doing the speech was surprisingly easy due to my interest in the subject. I think he was an amazing person—several centuries ahead of his time, very intellectual and holistic. He gave great insights to the future of humanity and the world with some only being realised now. Being able to predict the future would be an interesting ability to have… although I am not sure I would like what I would see?
My greatest sporting moment/s was when… not that I am a great sportsman but I do have some sporting highlights as a spectator, player, participant and coach. As a spectator: in 1990 I was at a Cricket World Cup – One Day International (ODI) between India and West Indies at the Basin Reserve and caught a six hit by the great Viv Richards.
As a player: in 1987 I got to play my one and only game in the Petone men’s soccer first team against Stop Out at Hutt Park Raceway and represented Petone at the National under 19 tournament.
As a participant: in 1985 I completed my first triathlon in Wellington, with a 1500 metre swim in Oriental Bay in cold/windy conditions where at least six people were pulled from the swim with early stages of hypothermia. I was in the last 50 competitors (out of about 400) out of the sea then made up 150 places on the 40km bike ride, and another 50 places on the 10km run.
As a coach: I was awarded the Junior Soccer Coach of the year in 1999 at Petone in my first and only stint as a junior coach with the tenth grade, with my team winning their competition.
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote (or three) is…
#1 Travelling: (from ‘Northern Exposure’ temporary DJ at KBHR, Bernard Stevens) “Thoughts turn to homecoming. Journey’s end. Because in a sense, it’s the coming back, the return, which gives meaning to the going forth. We really don’t know where we’ve been until we’ve come back to where we were. Only, where we were may not be as it was because of who we’ve become. Which is, after all, why we left.”
#2 Dreams – (from ‘Northern Exposure’ DJ at KBHR, Chris Stevens) “Be open to your dreams, people. Embrace that distant shore. Because our mortal journey is over all too soon.”
#3 Life – (Stacey Perkins) “Make the most of today, as tomorrow never comes.”
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… before you respond by email to something you are unhappy about, do a draft and save it. Speak to someone you can confide in for advice, sleep on it, re-read and edit it the next day then consider carefully if you should send or delete it! This advice has saved my blushes in the past…thanks Rob!
In work and life I am motivated by… people who contribute to the world in a positive way and people who impart knowledge to those worthy of it, in a meaningful way.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… before throwing things in the rubbish or washing things down the drain ask yourself ‘Would I like that to be going into my food or water and can I re-use this some way?’ By asking this and acting on it you will improve the health of the ecosystem we all have to live in. Also, through my cultural heritage as part Maori from Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Ngai Tahu Iwi, I have the belief that our natural resources are a taonga and we are the guardians, not the owners, of these so we all have a responsibility to care for and conserve them!
Question of the week…
What story does your family/whanau always tell about you? A story or event that my family re-visit and often talk about is from a time when I was 9 or 10 years old and we were on a family holiday at Flat Point, Carterton, Wairarapa. I was out diving for kina and paua with my step-father, Frank.
While he was under the sea I suddenly felt a punch or thump to my chest then a whack to my abdomen, right thigh and right knee. Then I grabbed a large tail and was dragged about 10 metres out to sea before I let go. When I looked down at my chest there was blood throbbing from a wound to my chest near the heart. When my step-father re-surfaced all he could see was a lot of blood around me. He got me to the shore where my sister, Tara, came to help me but I collapsed as my right knee ligament had been severed. My sister ran along the beach to get more help and found a lady (who to this day I still don’t know who she was…maybe my guardian angel?), who bandaged me up to reduce the bleeding from the four wounds. The worst puncture/stab wound pierced the outer wall of tissue to my heart and I lost a lot of blood.
I was rushed to hospital in Carterton in the back of a Bedford van then taken to Wellington hospital by ambulance. I spent three days in the Intensive Care Unit but survived to tell this story. After thinking long and hard about what happened we concluded that I had startled then been attacked by a large sting-ray and was stabbed/sliced by its barb in four places. We still talk about and reflect on this incident occasionally and still are in awe of how unbelievable it was. I was lucky, unlike Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, who died from a similar attack and injuries from a sting-ray’s barb! This experience taught me to respect nature and its environment!