Archives For Partnership

By Mark Menzies, Waikato Services Ranger

We know it as the Hakarimata Summit Track, but fitness nuts in the region call it The Huks! It’s one of the Waikato’s best outdoor gyms and much-loved by the local community.

From Brownlee Avenue, in Ngaruawahia, it’s 335 metre climb to the summit of the Hakarimata Range—with 1,349 steps in between.

View from the Hakarimata Summit Tower.

View from the Hakarimata Summit Tower

The summit view tower, at 374 metres above sea level, has amazing views of the Waikato Basin and down to Ruapehu on a clear day.

The track meets the Hakarimata Walkway and is also part of the Te Araroa Trail.

Upgraded in 2012, from a slippery die-hard trampers track to a walking track, the Hakarimata Summit Track now attracts over 50,000 people a year (and growing).

It sounds fantastic, and it is, but with all those walkers, the wear and tear of the steps and track sets in. So, how do you maintain and carry gravel up 1,349 steps?

Stairs up to the Hakarimata Summit.

Hakarimata Summit Track stair section

In steps Reg Hohaia, a local who started a fitness campaign after undergoing a hip replacement, walking the track every day—sometimes two or three times a day.

Reggie inspired others; he encouraged and pushed them to try the track. First by going quarter of the way up, then half the way up and, finally, with a big high five, laughter and cheer, they are standing on the summit of the Hakarimata Range.

Reg Hohaia at the summit of Hakarimata.

Reg Hohaia—the MAN

Reggie started doing a few jobs on the track: cleaning off graffiti, clearing a bit of vegetation, that sort of thing. Then he asked for a pile of track gravel to be left at the entrance!

The end result is a wonderful community partnership; a track that is maintained and looks fantastic; people exercising, saving the health board thousands; and happy DOC rangers thinking “where is the next spot this can work?” “where do we find another Reggie?”

To celebrate Save Kiwi Week which kicks off next Monday we profile Michelle Impey, Executive Director at Kiwis for kiwi.

At work

Michelle Impey holding a rowi kiwi.

Holding a rowi kiwi

Some things I do in my job include… Kiwis for kiwi is a small two-person team so my role is pretty broad! I am mostly office-bound and my job description includes everything from working with the Trustees to set/deliver the strategic direction for the Trust, managing relationships with stakeholders, fundraising strategy and execution, marketing and fronting media etc.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by…keeping one of its partnerships ticking along.

The best bit about my job is… I have two favourite bits. I have a saying I like to use: “No one is saving kiwi to get rich”. There are some amazing people around New Zealand who are working hard to protect kiwi, and often with a huge contribution of their own time and money. They are salt-of-the-earth people and it’s really awesome to work alongside them.

And, in a best-of-both-worlds scenario, I feel really fortunate that I get to use my business skills and background but with a way more gratifying outcome than I would have in the corporate world – which is usually about selling more product and/or increasing return to shareholders. In this role, if I do a good job, there is more money for kiwi conservation work and that is hugely rewarding.

The funniest/strangest/loveliest/scariest/awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… I’ve been in this role eight years so there have been lots of funny, strange, lovely and scary moments, but probably one of my stand-out awesome memories is of a day in Fiordland a few years ago, where I got taken out on a ‘kiwi hunt’ with the DOC team to find a tokoeka that needed a transmitter change. It was a nine-hour day to find and capture that one bird but what an amazing day in the bush! It highlights how hard the work can be, but also how enormously gratifying and rewarding it is.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… I have to pick a collection or group rather than singling out one amazing person, and that is the Kiwi Recovery Group. It is led by DOC but is comprised of both DOC and non-DOC people with broad ranging kiwi knowledge and experience that spans decades. I am really privileged to sit on this group because of my role with the Trust, and am constantly amazed at the breadth of knowledge the group possesses and the thoughtful advice that is given out on kiwi issues around the country.

Michelle tramping in the Kaimanawa Ranges.

I love Auckland, but love to get out of it too! Here’s me on a tramping trip in the Kaimanawa Ranges

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that I… don’t work for DOC, don’t work for BNZ, and prior to this role had not worked in a conservation-related field.

The song that always cheers me up is… um, anything that isn’t country and western, but I have a few faves in the music library at the moment. Can’t usually go wrong with Foo Fighters or Jack Johnson, depending on the mood.

My stomping ground is… the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland. Only a 20 minute drive and you’ve got miles and miles of amazing bush trails for running.

My best ever holiday was… my first trip ever to a completely different country (I’m from Canada) – Thailand. There is something very cool about all of those travel ‘firsts’ – eating who-knows-what from road-side stalls, not speaking the language, discovering new foods, new culture, new landscapes etc.

My greatest sporting moment was when… I crossed the finish line at Ironman Canada for the first time.  It wasn’t a podium finish (by a very long shot) but by far the toughest sporting event I have done to date.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… any one of them that live on a predator-free offshore island. That’d be the sweet life….

If I wasn’t working at Kiwis for kiwi, I’d like to…be a philanthropist.

Holding a kakapo on Codfish Island.

Life isn’t completely kiwi. It was awesome to do a volunteer stint with the kakapo team on Codfish Island

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “I was sad I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”. I don’t know where it originated but it is such a good perspective check for when you think things aren’t going so well.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… when you don’t know what to do, do something.

In work and life I am motivated by… happiness. I like to do what makes me happy. It’s simple (and it’s hedonistic), but it works.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… every little bit really can make a difference.

Michelle skiing in Canada.

Life before New Zealand – in an equally beautiful part of the world – Canada

There has been some good news for the cheeky kea with Dulux recently announcing they will be contributing $150,000 to the Kea Conservation Trust nest monitoring programme over the next three years as they continue to build upon their partnership with DOC.

A kea in flight displaying colourful feathers. Photo: Mat Goodman.

This photo by Mat Goodman shows the amazing colours found in kea feathers

In addition to that funding, Dulux will also be raising funds through through the sale of specially marked promotional pails of paint, with one dollar being donated to the Kea Conservation Trust with every pail purchase.

Artwork from the Dulux promotional kea paint pails.

Sample artwork for promotional pails. Look out for them at a store near you!

Dulux’s involvement in the Kea Nest Monitoring Programme means the programme can continue, and grow into other areas to improve our knowledge about how well predator control is working and how quickly kea are declining in areas without predator control.

Female kea and chick in their nest. Photo: Corey Mosen.

Female kea and chick in their nest. Photo: Corey Mosen

Dulux began working together with DOC under the Protecting Our Place partnership this year to help protect and preserve huts all around New Zealand. By supporting programmes to protect our wildlife and backcountry shelters, Dulux is helping to ensure that our future generations can experience the unique sights and sounds of New Zealand.