Archives For Taranaki

Emma Neal was inspired to make a career change and become a DOC ranger while browsing the internet looking at study options. Today, she writes about her journey to securing her dream job.

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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 Kay Davies, Partnerships Ranger in Ngamotu/New Plymouth.

Kay Davies on the Kepler Track.

Getting familiar with the Kepler Track

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

I oversee the two Egmont National Park Visitor Centres (North Egmont and Dawson Falls). I also do tourism liaison, interpretation project management and have just taken on the health and safety coordinator role.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

DOC’s visitor centres as our second most important channel after the website have huge potential for engaging people in conservation and growing the vision.

The best bit about my job is:

The diversity. From track work in Westland National Park, to recreation planning on Great Barrier Island, to community relations in Hawke’s Bay and even to helping develop a Visitor Centre at Government House Wellington—and a subsequent handshake with royalty!

Kay Davies showing Prince Charles and Lady Camilla around the Government House Visitor Centre.

Showing Prince Charles and Lady Camilla around the newly completed Government House Visitor Centre

The strangest DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

I use to be responsible for the Great Barrier Island’s Claris airstrip. When it was wet, Great Barrier Airlines would ring me from Auckland in the morning (once the phone exchange opened) and get me to drive my work Land Rover down the runway to see if I got stuck or not. If I didn’t they’d fly over.

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

The Taranaki Visitor Centre team. They spend all day being cheerful and friendly with our visitors, (even the ones who want to climb Mount Taranaki with just an umbrella for protection!) and nothing is too much bother for them. Then to top off their day, they have to clean the toilets—all without complaint.

Heavy snow outside the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre.

Getting to work at the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre can have its challenges!

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

When I started my career at DOC I was one of only two females on the annual 12 person intake from Lincoln College’s (now University) Park Ranger course in 1981. Those were the days when interview questions included “do you get on well with blokes?” and “are you good with your hands?”.

Park Ranger intake class at Lincoln College in 1981.

Park Ranger intake, Lincoln College, 1981

The song that always cheers me up is:

“I could walk 500 miles” by The Proclaimers. For some reason it is synonymous with good times and lots of dancing at parties!

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:

Harry Potter. Oh to have an invisibility cloak and be able to teleport. In fact when I used to try to teleport often when I was little, to save long walks home from my friends’ places—needless to say I’m still trying to fine tune the technique!

My best ever holiday was:

Tramping between Norway and Sweden up in the far north. I’d read in a book somewhere that it was possible to do—so with that comprehensive trip planning done off we went! With a bit more local info we successfully navigated our way through two amazing national parks complete with reindeer, snow fields, ‘frozen feet’ river crossings, lakes and Samish summer villages.

Sorjoshytta in Norway.

Sorjoshytta in Norway, en route to Sweden via Padjelanta and Sarek National Parks

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be:

The native shrub, mairehau—imagine smelling that nice all the time!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”—Dr. Seuss

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

“Did anyone die? No? Then what’s the problem?” In other words—don’t sweat the small stuff. (Obviously if someone has died that’s another issue).

In work and life I am motivated by:

My family, nature, and Hadyn Jones’ Good Sorts on the Sunday night news. I reckon if you make it onto that you’ve made a difference in the world!

Kay Davies exploring the North Taranaki coastline with the family.

Exploring the North Taranaki coastline with the family

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

A few words from a song out of Jesus Christ Superstar:

“Think while you still have me
Move while you still see me
You’ll be lost
You’ll be so sorry
When I’m gone”

(In other words—take action now! Of course it pertains to Jesus in the song, but could equally apply to our natural environment don’t you think?)

Kay Davies at the Wellington Sevens dressed as a fairy.

The Wellington Sevens—I’m the pure white fairy of course

Question of the week…

You have to cut your energy usage by a third – what would you give up and what couldn’t/wouldn’t you want to live without?

Give up: the car—around town at least, lighting—back to candles, TV (except Coro St of course and maybe Sky Sport).
Keep: definitely the hot shower/bath—but if it’s solar even better, I might just need to shift from Taranaki.

The tīeke/saddleback belongs to New Zealand’s unique wattlebird family, an ancient group which includes the endangered kōkako and the extinct huia. An adult tīeke can be recognised by a distinctive chestnut saddle of colour.

According to Māori mythology the chestnut saddle was put there by the demi-god Maui. Following Maui’s battle with the sun the tīeke refused to bring water to a thirsty Maui, becoming angry he seized the bird with his still fiery hand, leaving a brown scorch mark across its back.

North Island Tieke. Photo: Andy McDowall | CC BY-NC 2.0

Last Saturday 40 tīeke were released in Taranaki to join a recently released founding population. The birds were released at Taranaki’s pest-free Lake Rotokare Reserve.

These are the fist tīeke to live in the Taranaki region for more than 150 years.

Photo by Andy McDowall | CC BY-NC 2.0.