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This week DOC is celebrating Conservation Week with over 130 events, activities and competitions happening around the country.

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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 Geoff Hicks, DOC’s Chief Scientist, based in National Office, Wellington

Some things I do in my job include…

Providing advice and maintaining good relationships with science sector colleagues to advantage DOC; adding a science perspective to international negotiations; and keeping our science and research strategy relevant and up to date.

Geoff Hicks on the Northern Circuit, Tongariro.

My favourite tramping spot, Northern Circuit, Tongariro

The best bit about my job is…

Seeing people make the connection between science, conservation and their sense of identity and prosperity.

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is…

Recently representing New Zealand at the launch of the new Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Panama City, in April last year.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is…

Not one but many… the quality and commitment of our science staff.

On the Sculpter's Walk, South Head, Sydney .

On the Sculpter’s Walk, South Head, Sydney

On a personal note…

My stomping ground is…

Tongariro Northern Circuit and the Rough Ridge Central Otago. 

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…

Richard Branson… for his stratospheric vision.

My best ever holiday was…

A month of long service leave spent at Beaux Chene, a lovely villa on the banks of the Baise River, Nerac, south west France.

My greatest sporting moment was when…

I beat my good friend Karl in the veterans Karapoti Classic—by 15 minutes to boot!

Before working at DOC I…

Was Conceptual Leader Natural Environment at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand—responsible for the creation of the Awesome Forces, Mountains to Sea and Bush City exhibitions.

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is…

“Aim high, you’re bound to hit something!” 

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…

Carpe diem!

In work and life I am motivated by…

Happiness and Michelle—they go together!

Geoff with his daughter Kate and his 93 year old mum.

Geoff with his daughter Kate and his 93 year old mum

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is…

Just remember that DOC consistently ranks amongst the most loved state agencies by New Zealanders; they really do appreciate what we do!

Question of the week

What story does your family love to tell about you?

When I was about 10 years old we lived next to a family at Raumati Beach that had a corgi dog. His name was Clarry. I didn’t like him much and he came to greatly dislike me, probably because I used to tease him while on the backyard swing. I used to aggravate him while zooming overhead growling and making snapping, clawing gesticulations with my fingers.  He was a smart dog. He got better at reacting as I passed overhead and his snarling, snapping jaws got closer to me at every pass.

But I was so imbued with my own success at angering him that I was oblivious to the shortening distance to my derrière. And inevitably he struck. So there I was flying backwards and forwards on this swing with a ratty, salivating corgi attached firmly to my butt! After the tetanus injection (and they really do hurt) I was left ruminating over the moral of this story. Perhaps it was: when you are tantalised and determined you can achieve great things. Even a flying corgi will testify to that!

DOC’s got talent – and for once I’m not talking about our world-leading conservation work. Today, in honour of New Zealand Music Month, we’re kicking off a three-part series showcasing the musicians in our midst. From Brazilian samba to electronic pop punk rock, you’ll find DOC musicians are as diverse as the ecosystems they help care for – and just as inspiring.

Delete Delete: Kurt Shanks

Formerly bass player in stellar*, DOC’s Auckland based Communications and Engagement Advisor, Kurt Shanks, is now one half of the electronic pop punk rock duo Delete Delete.

The Delete Delete duo Kurt Shanks and Lani Purkis.

The Delete Delete duo Kurt Shanks and Lani Purkis

Although Delete Delete is still in its early days, their future looks bright. Their debut single Sedated has been selected as Song of the Day on music website Cheese on Toast and they’ve been interviewed on TVNZ U, where they played their new animated video (which is, by the way, completely wicked and one you’ll want to watch):

Kurt’s job at DOC sees him doing everything from generating local media coverage for Auckland-specific DOC projects, to unearthing new ways to engage and involve Aucklanders in conservation projects.

In Delete Delete Kurt does a little bit of everything too – from playing the guitar and keyboards to singing and co-writing songs.

Whether in his band, or in his work at DOC, Kurt is always trying to convey as economically as possible the core story or emotion. “Too many words blur the picture.”

Check out Delete Delete on Facebook

Tom’s Field: Sean Magee

“A tasty mix of folk/old-time fusion with contemporary and modern flavours” is how Nelson’s Sean Magee describes his bluegrass/folk band Tom’s Field. The group’s repertoire includes bluegrass harmonies and rhythms, stomping reels and jigs, original compositions and soulful songs all interspersed with cheeky irreverence.

Sean Magee (second from left) with his bluegrass/folk band Tom's Field.

Sean Magee (second from left) with his bluegrass/folk band Tom’s Field

18 months into his time with Tom’s Field, Sean – who sings and plays banjo and mandolin – says its a great buzz to play to a dance floor full of revellers. He recommends that you “bring your dancing trousers and be prepared to raise a sweat”.

Here he is (on the mandolin) at Motty Malones Irish Bar in Motueka. If this doesn’t get your feet tapping nothing will:

Originally from the north of Ireland, with an academic background in law, Sean now provides administrative support for the Nelson/Marlborough Conservation Board and DOC Conservancy Office.

Wellington Batucada: Kate McAlpine

DOC Science Adviser Kate McAlpine cites playing in the Rugby World Cup victory parade as her biggest moment with Wellington Batucada, a group she has been involved with for about four years.

Samba is the traditional music played by large percussion groups in Brazil’s carnival parades, and Wellington Batucada looks to emulate this tradition. Kate plays agogo bells and shaker, and is also gig coordinator.

Kate performing with the Wellington Batucada.

Kate (middle front with blonde pigtails) performing with the Wellington Batucada

At DOC Kate does scientific research and provides advice on environmental weeds.

Watch Wellington Batucada perform at the Rugby World Cup opening night:

Check out Wellington Batucada on Facebook

Stay tuned for Part II of our New Zealand Music Month series, profiling the musicians in our midst, next week.