Archives For Permissions

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 Arna Litchfield, Permissions Advisor in Hamilton.

Arna Litchfield with a New Zealand falcon / kārearea perched on her head.

I suspect this kārearea was disappointed when he realised that climbing to the top of my head didn’t really offer that much of a high point to survey from

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

Any business or organisation that wants to use public conservation land for their activities needs to get permission from DOC in the form of a concession. I process these concessions and advise people, both within DOC and the wider community, with information about the concessions process.

The best way I can explain the Permissions Team to anyone not in it is as a pivot point, which means that my role involves talking to a lot of people, pulling together information from internal and external parties, legislation, policy documents and a range of other sources, mixing it all together and producing a contract for the applicant.

Getting admitted to the Bar in June 2009

Getting admitted to the Bar in June 2009

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

I help people make the most of the conservation land that DOC manages.

Concessions are important because they utilise valuable land while still allowing it to be held as a national asset, and allows the general public to connect with conservation land in ways they might not otherwise be able to.

Where this becomes really valuable is when people start to identify with and take ownership of the land the concession is over, whether that’s a farmer who decides to work towards restoration of a wetland, or a huge recreational opportunity that reaches hundreds of people.

Arna in a kayak on the Whanganui River.

My sister, her fiancé and I did the Whanganui Journey in January this year—it was amazing. And I didn’t fall out of my kayak once

The best bit about my job is:

The people, without a doubt. The people I have met at DOC are just wicked people—always happy to answer queries and help out when and where they can. I love how much I have learnt since I have been here.

The funniest DOC moment I’ve had so far are:

The queries we receive. I can’t say I have fielded all of these, but it gives you an idea:

We’ve had people ask about testing shark repellent surf boards; getting oil out of weka for use in paintings; and my favourite, whether it was possible to feed an amputated leg to a Great White, which he first had to get through customs from the United Kingdom.

The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

There is no one person in particular. The people I have met here are people who are genuinely passionate about the work they do, and are more than happy to take the time and share their knowledge.

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is:

Arna in a white and orange striped dress sipping a drink with a white and orange striped straw.

You know you have your outfit right when you literally match the straws. This at a wedding in March—one of four I’ll be attending this year

‘Where the streets have no name’ by U2. Two of my favourite memories are my sister boosting me up so I could see the stage when this song came on the first time we saw U2 live, and dancing the night away with my mate Amy to this song when we saw them a second time.

My stomping ground is:

I’m a Waikato girl at heart. My parents moved us down from Waiau Pa to a dairy farm just outside Matamata when I was 16 months old and never looked back.

When I need a time out, I head back to the farm (and my Mum’s cooking), and just relax. Nothing beats taking the dogs for a run down the farm – it always works.

The front of the house looks out to wards the Kaimai Range, so when the family is home over Christmas, we tend to eat outside and take in the view whenever we can. And my flatmates always get a laugh when I get home and unpack all the stuff (usually fruit and vegetables from the garden) Mum has sent me home with.

My greatest sporting moment was when:

Firstly, coming fourth in the Rotorua Tough Gal competition (the 6 km version) a couple of years back. Considering how much I hated cross country as a kid, this might as well have been first as far as I was concerned.
Secondly, a friend of mine runs a bootcamp, which I joined up to this summer just gone. By the time we finished I held the record (having beaten the men’s and woman’s record) for longest prone hold/hover, clocking out at 13 minutes 5 seconds. A mate of mine told me I would need to train to get that record; I told him my stubborn personality was better than any training.

The best piece of news I’ve heard lately is:

That I am going to be an Aunty to a little girl in October. This year was already shaping up to be pretty awesome, with a few good friends of mine getting married and having kids, but to then add my big sister to the mix was magic.

Before working at DOC I was:

A private practice solicitor at a law firm in Hamilton, working on commercial and private conveyancing, wills, trust and estates, as well as the odd bit of criminal or family law.

Almost getting blown out of Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Almost getting blown out of Arthur’s Pass National Park

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” Eleanor Roosevelt.

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

From my Dad. Dad said to me once “no matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone who is worse off”. To which I have added from my own experiences “so be happy with what you do have and find joy in the little things.”

There are going to be times in life where things just suck and are hard and you have to deal with it. But no matter how bad you think you have it, there will be someone struggling just as much if not more, so be grateful for what you do have and find the things that make you happy. It won’t make the hard and bad bits any less hard or bad, but it does provide a bit of perspective and finding the joy in the little things can make it that much better.

In work and life I am motivated by:

The people in it. I am incredibly lucky that I have an awesome family and friends who will bend over backwards for me when I need it, and I try to do the same by them. People are what makes life fun and worth it.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

I’m going to borrow from Dr Suess here: “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

It doesn’t have to be anything major or epic, but start paying attention and caring because otherwise we will look back one day and realise it’s too late.

Question of the week…

If you were invisible, where would you go?

As I am writing this, I would be using it to get to Brazil and see as many World Cup games as possible without the expense of actually having to pay for them. Outside of this particular event, I would simply use it to go to all the concerts and shows that I usually go to, but not having to pay for them would do my bank balance the world of good.

Every Friday Jobs at DOC will take you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

Today we profile Mary-Anne Baxter, Permissions/Statutory Land Management (SLM) Supervisor, Canterbury

At work

Evening walks each day during my stint at the Arthur’s Pass Visitors Centre last year – the only time I’ve got to wear a proper DOC uniform

Position:Transitioning! Currently acting Permissions/Statutory Land Management (SLM) Supervisor Canterbury Conservancy since this February, high country tenure review officer for the previous seven years, and very shortly to become a Christchurch shared service SLM advisor.

What kind of things do you do in your role?

My tenure review role involved a lot of document drafting for proposals on high country pastoral leases, report and document editing, and implementing archaeological assessments on pastoral leases throughout Canterbury. My current role involves the day to day running of the Canterbury Permissions/SLM team while the newly appointed manager focuses on transitioning to Shared Services. My new role will involve all the statutory land management tasks involved with land disposals and acquisitions, land status investigation, and providing advice to others in the department on this.

What is the best part about your job?

Over recent years it has been the opportunities to research and discover potential historic/archaeological sites and then to actually get out in the high country with a 4WD and archaeologist and actually find them!

A mid 1800’s Mackenzie Basin fence still surviving today, complete with historic horse gateway through it

What is the hardest part about your job?

Convincing others of the processes involved and why things sometimes take a long time to happen.

What led you to your role in DOC?

Making the most of opportunities that become present along the road of life.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

The original 1880 iron trig marker below a mid 1900’s trig – surveying history combined with amazing Mackenzie Basin views, 4WD trip to get there, great company and amazing archaeological discoveries to find

The lack of any significant earthquakes happening!

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Historic research and site discovery!
  2. Taking the Toyota Hilux 4WD out in the high country associated with the above.
  3. Family (most of the time—teenagers are rather hit and miss at times!) and following their sports and music successes.

Three pet peeves

  1. People leaving the television on when no-one is in the room.
  2. Empty containers being left in the fridge/pantry (can’t you tell I have teenagers!)
  3. Cyclists running red lights.

Three foods

  1. Mum’s home baking—worth watching the rugby at Mum’s just for the baking!
  2. Pasta.
  3. Roast potatoes, my daughters favourite.

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. St James Station. High country/historic/scenery (and 4WDing for work trips) all mixed in together.
  2. West Coast walks. Charming Creek, Lyell Walkway and Denniston Plateau area in particular. Again the mix of really neat historic things, fantastic scenery and really interesting walks.
  3. Arthur’s Pass. After my couple of months working there last year the enthusiasm of the terrific visitor centre staff there have me sold on the area!

    Overlooking the magical Lake Benmore – a family picnic at the type of spot everyone should get out to

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Book. Usually whatever I happen to be reading at the time—presently “Caught Mapping” which has wonderful stories of the early surveyors in the 1800’s who mapped our country. I also enjoy a good Jodi Picoult or Lee Child as well though.
  2. Movie. The Lake House has been a favourite, but also Avatar and Inception have been a few that rated highly (in the days when the kids would let us go to the movies with them!).
  3. Album. 30ish years ago it would have definitely been Abba or Bee Gees—these days normally whatever someone else has playing.

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Make the most of any opportunities that come along (though I probably knew that by then) and to take life as it comes—you never know what will come along next!

Preparations to venture through the cave at Cave Stream, Craigeburn

Who or what inspires you and why?

Probably my parents, for all the community activities they have always been involved with. It’s not until you are there yourself, trying to keep up with your own family and community activities that you really appreciate all your parents really did and are still doing.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A primary school teacher, then later in high school, a surveyor.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

Surveying would actually still be a good alternative, although historic/archaeological work would be really high on the list, plus legal work would also be attractive (I’m currently studying for a Legal Executive Diploma).

Real life gold panning on the West Coast—I’m glad the objective was a quiet picnic by the river than actually making our fortune in gold!

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Turning off lights and appliances if they are not being used.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

Training the rest of the family to turn off lights and appliances if they are not being used! Work is actually pretty good with green behaviour.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

A NZ falcon appeals, soaring above the high country tussocks.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Go out and enjoy the wonderful walks/scenery/tramps/activities available on conservation land so you can learn to appreciate the value in looking after it for future generations.