Archives For rena

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 Taranaki based biodiversity ranger, Kelly Eaton

Kelly with her brother Fraser graduating as a Navy Officer.

My dad, brother (graduating as a Navy officer) and me!

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

Well I do a range of field work and office tasks. I am mainly in the field doing things such as maintaining and checking the stoat trap network on Mt Taranaki; whio and Dactylanthus taylorii surveys; coastal herb field weeding to improve the habitat for rare plant species and the endangered Notoreas ‘Taranaki’ moth; along with a range of other threatened flora and fauna work—while also attempting to get volunteers involved to help me get these jobs done.

What is the best part about your job?

Seeing positive results and finding what I’m looking for, such as a whio and Dactylanthus.

A whio sitting on a rock.

One of our whio, looking handsome

What is the hardest part about your job? 

The struggle to get everything done; I want to do everything I can but there just isn’t enough time to do it all.

What led you to your role in DOC? 

Ever since I could carry a pack my father has been dragging me into the bush, taking my brother and I hunting in various spots throughout New Zealand. So somehow, although I was rather against going bush as a kid, I managed to grow up with a passion for our native wildlife.

Originally my goal was to become a zookeeper, which inspired me to obtain a degree in Zoology and a Certificate in Captive Wild Animals. After, I started to look for opportunities to gain that valuable experience. Along the way I met the right people who gave me that essential foot in the door. I gained a temporary job with the Historic Team in our National Office, which was followed by a year carrying out forest surveys with various organisations from Northland to Stewart Island, which finally lead me to my present dream job in Taranaki. Yay!

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Getting into the rivers and tracking down whio to add to this season’s tally, and finding my first ducklings (totally cute!).

Kelly at Living Legends planting day.

2011 Living Legends planting day

The rule of three…

Three loves:

  1. Sleep—it’s amazing.
  2. Food; those who know me will know that it is a rare moment to not find me snacking on something.
  3. Massages, especially after a massive field day.

Three pet peeves:

  1. Waiting in line. If there is a big line I am just going to go somewhere else, life is too short.
  2. Disorder.
  3. Trying to find something trendy to wear when I don’t have to wear a uniform.

Three foods:

  1. Pizza.
  2. Chocolate.
  3. Meat and three veg.

Three favourite places in New Zealand:

  1. Tongariro National Park.
  2. Mt Taranaki is fairly up there.
  3. Anywhere with sunshine, golden sands and a bottle of wine.

Favourite movie, album, book:

Movies: Kill Bill 1 and 2, and anything Peter Jackson does.

Album:   Nothing comes to mind, I like a range of things. For Today by Headband may be my favourite song. Just don’t give me any of that angry screaming rubbish.

Book: Edmonds Cookery Book… well it’s the one I use the most.

Kelly feeding a giraffe at Wellington Zoo.

Feeding a magnificent giraffe at Wellington Zoo

Deep and meaningful…

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

‘Go out there and volunteer, gain experience and make connections. It will make obtaining the job you want a bit easier’. I pass this onto many of the potential future rangers I meet.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Steve Irwin was fairly cool—that bubbly positive personality, out there, doing what he could with a passion. He taught so many people about conservation values. And Captain Planet… he’s a hero…. Are you singing the theme song in your head now?

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

Very briefly I thought I would be an artist, but after a few school trips to the zoo, becoming a zookeeper became my focus. I knew I wanted to work with animals.

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

A house wife/gardener/popping out a few kiddies or saving endangered wildlife in Africa… oh the options!

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Compost your biodegradable kitchen waste; it’s amazing how well the garden will grow with a bit of homemade compost.

Kelly Eaton feeding penguins rescued after the Rena oil spill.

A team of us got to help out with the Rena disaster. I was crop feeding oiled birds for a week, exhausting but rewarding

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

At home: car pool and ride my bike more. At work: hassle people about the ‘Check Clean Dry’ message more.

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

I think a New Zealand fur seal would be quite cool, flying through the water and discovering a whole new world.

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

Bored? Looking for something new to do? Interested in conservation? Your local DOC office could probably use your assistance with a project or two. Give them a call and let’s get some work done!

Kelly after climbing to the top of the Mountain.

I had to do it at least once, I made it to the top and my certificate proves it

Every Monday Jobs at DOC takes 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.

This week we meet some of the people working on Operation Rena in Tauranga  

At work…

“Would you like bubbles with your bath?” Penguin cleaning, a part of the de-oiling process

Name: DOC staff involved with Operation Rena

What kind of things do you do in your role?

DOC is providing operational support for the Massey University led National Oiled Wildlife Response Team on behalf of Maritime New Zealand. To cut a long story short, DOC staff are contributing to the following:

Crew Leaders, Sector Supervisors, Skippers’ Safety, Division Commanders, Iwi Liaison, Radio Operators, Wildlife Handlers, Information, Finance, Personnel, Operations, Logistics, GIS/Mapping, Night Operations, Admin Support, the Situation Unit, and the Resources Unit.

What is the best part about contributing to Operation Rena?

People have come from across the planet to help out. They come from a variety of backgrounds, organisations, businesses and agencies to assist in the efforts of the operation. There is an incredible commitment by these people to get the job done—and to meet the objectives of the operation with a huge amount of collaboration and a real lack of egos getting in the way.

What is the hardest part about Operation Rena?

The Minister of Conservation keeping an eye on proceedings at the Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre at Te Maunga, Tauranga

A number of the staff are spending time away from home and family.

The unpredictability of a boat precariously grounded on a reef in changeable weather is also hard!

What led you to your involvement with Operation Rena?

DOC’s Deputy Director-General of Operations, Sue Tucker, asked and, as keen and willing DOC staff members, we have all happily put our hands up to help out when and where required.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

To date, we have managed to cover 60–80km of coastline per day since the grounding. This has enabled us to recover 402 wildlife members, including little blue penguins, gannets, shags, shearwater and seals. A part of that number was 60 nationally vulnerable New Zealand Dotterels before the spill! All of this was undertaken while keeping our cool, with a high team morale. Phew!

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Clean seas
  2. Clean beaches
  3. Clean birds

Three pet peeves

  1. Grounded boats
  2. Leaking oil
  3. Missing shipping containers

Three things always in your fridge

  1. Milk for the coffee to start the day off
  2. Sardines for the birds
  3. Beer for winding down after a long day

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Tuhua (Mayor) Island—An awesome volcanic environment that is pest free and home to numerous indigenous species with an amazing marine reserve. 
  2. Maketu— the landing site for the Te Arawa canoe and a nesting area for estuarine species including our New Zealand Dotterels.
  3. Motuotau (Rabbit) Island—Penguins galore!

We also used to quite like Astrolabe Reef for its amazing sea life with great diving and fishing, but we’re a little indifferent to it right now!

Loading the DOC boat for Tuhua (Mayor) Island

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Movie: Free Willy. We’re not a big fan of movies like Titanic or Poseidon at the moment!
  2. Album: Time and Tide by Split Enz, especially the song Six months in a leaky boat.
  3. Book: We’re often found perusing Rena Operation Astrolabe Incident Action Plans for a  bit of light reading at the moment, and have been considering finding a copy of Out of the Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Prince William Sound, but don’t really have the time right now.

Deep and meaningful…

What keeps you motivated and why?

Seeing the huge community effort that has gone on over the last few weeks in response to this disaster. There are an incredible number of small but important jobs that need to be done for an operation like this to keep moving. Often these jobs are picked up by volunteers—anything from sifting sand at local beaches and picking out tiny pieces of oiled sand, to cleaning mucky pens at the wildlife centre after the de-oiling of the birds.

Wildlife Incident Management team in action at the Incident Control Centre in Tauranga

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

Working back in my day job at DOC, tirelessly making New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth.

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

“Kia ora whanau” Iwi Liaison Taute Taiepa making the calls and loving it!

A massive pod of Maui or Hector’s dolphins. We’d go back in time by about 4-5 weeks and be patrolling off the Bay of Plenty coast. There would be so many of us that if a large container ship came past we could nudge it out of the way of any obstacles and escort it safely into port!What piece of advice or message would you want to give to others when it comes to Operation Rena?

A huge thank you to all those that have helped on the operation to date. The support from people who have ‘downed tools’ from all over the country to come and help has been amazing.

To those that haven’t come—we still need your help! This thing isn’t going away in a hurry and it will only continue to function with the support of you all.

For all the best and current info on the situation check out the Maritime New Zealand website.