By Claudia Babirat, Community Outreach Coordinator, Otago
I have just been reminded of how proud I am to work for DOC—and in conservation.
That’s because I had the unique opportunity to travel the length of the country to film a variety of community conservation projects. My travels took me to almost every region in New Zealand.
Not only was I inspired by the conservation projects I filmed, but I also met an incredibly diverse bunch of amazing New Zealanders—DOC staff, business people, young ambassadors, tireless volunteers, community leaders, philanthropists, conservation-minded farmers and forestry workers, and a variety of passionate organisational partners.
These people shared their working life with me, and some also welcomed me into their homes—people like Gareth and Jo Morgan (thanks for the scooter ride, Jo), Guy Trainor from Kaiteriteri MTB park who tested my skills on the Corkscrew, the lovely Kate Akers of Landcare Trust (you are wunderbar), the tireless Fleur Corbett and Helen Ough Dealy from DOC in the Bay of Islands, and my good friend Ruth Barton in Auckland.
The video showcases DOC’s vision for the future—more people involved in community-owned conservation projects.
This is a run-down of the inspirational projects I filmed:
Day 1 – Dulux
Dulux has just announced a new three-year partnership with DOC—you may have seen the TV advert. In short, Dulux is supplying DOC with paint to spruce up huts and other structures around the country. I interviewed Murray Gray, Dulux’s trade store General Manager. He’s a down-to-earth guy—loves the backcountry and hunting, and helped paint Tarn Ridge Hut that features in the ad.
Day 2 – Nature Central
Just after lunch I filmed Wayne O’Donnell of Greater Wellington Regional Council. Wayne is part of Nature Central, a partnership between three regional councils and DOC, who aim to work together to make better use of resources, and work on joint projects including education and training initiatives.
16-year-old Natasha Bishop is the talented young woman behind the simple yet very effective animated video ‘Arboraceous’, which won the Outlook for Someday 2012 competition.
Day 3 – Project Janszoon
Devon McLean (Chairperson of Project Crimson, and now Manager of Project Janszoon), and Wildlife Manager Pete Gaze were my hosts at Anchorage in Abel Tasman Park. Conservation in the park has been boosted by a $25 million project (over 30 years) launched by a Kiwi family who wish to remain anonymous (‘Janszoon’ was Abel Tasman’s middle name—not the name of the family).
Day 4 – Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park
On Sunday morning I filmed a working bee organized by Kaiteriteri MTB park Project Leader Guy Trainor. The group has built over 20 km of tracks in the back of popular holiday town Kaiteriteri, all through volunteer labour. Guy’s passion for the project is infectious.
Days 5 and 6 – Kaimai Catchment Forum
In Tauranga I filmed a field trip organised by the formidable Kate Akers of NZ Landcare Trust. The bus trip consisted of a diverse group of people that make up the Kaimai Catchment Forum (including regional and district council members, Federated Farmers and kiwi fruit orchardists, iwi, conservation trust leaders, Forest and Bird reps, DOC and others). The day was all about sharing with others in situ about how each stakeholder aims to help protect and restore the Kaimai Catchment.
Days 7 and 8 – Project Island Song
Project Island Song aims to strengthen the dawn chorus in the Bay of Islands, through rigorous restoration and predator control. At the heart of this project is a tremendous bunch of people. I spent a morning filming at Te Rawhiti marae, at the nearby wetlands with John Booth, and a whole day on Urupukapuka Island with volunteers. I was immensely inspired by DOC Community Relations Ranger Fleur Corbett, who spends a lot of her spare time (i.e. evenings and weekends) working on the project.
Day 9 – Day off!
Day 10 – Conservation Volunteers NZ – Connecting People to Parks
In the morning I joined a group of young Aucklanders and international tourists who were busy tending to young plants at the Mt Eden native plant nursery. Through their partnership with Auckland Regional Council, Conservation Volunteers NZ provides opportunities for urbanites and visitors to help look after regional parks, and have fun with like-minded people at the same time.
In the afternoon I met 15-year-old Nadine Tupp of Warkworth. Nadine recently took part in a MAD Marine course, which inspired her to take action. She now writes a blog that highlights some of the threats faced by our beautiful seas, and actions that everyday people can take to minimise these. Thanks to Helen Rowlands and Trish Irvine who made this all come together on very short notice.
The above stories will sit alongside others that I’ve already filmed in Otago and Southland—including Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Mitre 10 Takahe Rescue, and the St Clair prion fence in Dunedin.
Thanks so much to the DOC Community Outreach Coordinator network who made me aware of all these amazing projects in the first place—and Siobhan File my partner in crime.