Archives For Te Urewera National Park

By Richard Wagner, Partnerships Ranger based in Te Urewera

The New Zealand Army recently held a two-week exercise training in Te Urewera National Park. After the exercise had finished, the army arranged a day to give back to DOC and the local community.

Looking across Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera National Park.

Te Urewera National Park

Working alongside DOC rangers ten soldiers cut and marked six kilometres of the Whakatakaa Hut Track and another three kilometres was cut and marked by another seven soldiers.

Soldiers from Victor Company, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

Soldiers from Victor Company, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

The Biodiversity Team also had ten soldiers cutting and marking whio traplines and another ten building a new kōwhai ngutukaka / kakabeak enclosure along the Ngamoko Track.

This was a great way for the army to work with DOC. The army were also able to visit the local Te Kura o Waikaremoana School, where the tamariki/children put on kai / food for their manuhiri / visitors.

Children sitting in the Pinzgauer six-wheeler truck.

Having a go in the driver’s seat

The children thoroughly enjoyed the army visit, especially jumping on and in the Pinzgauer six-wheeler truck, looking at the weapons and eating the army ration packs.

Ko enei whakaahua, ko ngaa tamariki harikoa mai Te Kura o Waikaremoana, me nga hoea i awhi mai nga kaimahi a Te Papa Atawhai.

Felicity Deverell has left her home and studio behind her to embark on a drawing adventure in the New Zealand backcountry. She plans to draw about 50 huts to feature in an exhibition/book. Felicity writes about some of her challenges so far.

Drawing Mangamuka Hut in the Kaimai Range.

Drawing Mangamuka Hut in the Kaimai Range with my co-plotter Caleb

Drawing out in the wilderness is very different from in the studio. It has its difficulties but is very enjoyable on the whole. I love being outside, and I love drawing, so it was a great holiday for me.

A drawing of Te Totara Hut in the Te Urewera National Park.

Te Totara Hut in the Te Urewera National Park

The challenges of drawing huts abounded. In the first place, it was difficult to find a good angle to draw the hut from. It wasn’t just a question of which side the hut looked most interesting from, often finding one possible drawing angle was hard. Most huts were either closely surrounded by bush or long grass, so I had to find ways of getting around that.

Getting far enough away from the hut to get a good view of it, and to get it to fit on my paper, was a challenge, but I always found a way.

At Te Totara Hut in the southern Ureweras I sat up on a slip over the river from the hut. The hut was surrounded with tall grass so that was the only place I could get a proper view of it.

Felicity sketching amongst the native bush.

Sketching amongst the native bush

Before I began drawing the huts, I thought of just doing sketches of them, and working on larger more detailed drawings later, as the main thing to show at an exhibition. But I am now thinking that what I draw out there is worth more than what I could do in my studio. They have more interest and character to them, and capture the feel of the place.

A watercolour paining of a hut hanging on the hut wall.

Watercolour on location

For an exhibition and a book, all I really need is the material I get out there. But I still intend to do a few paintings on canvass and for those I will work on my studio from sketches and photographs.


More information on Felicity Deverell and her ‘The Art of a Hut’ project is available on her blog.

You could enjoy a backcountry hut experience of your own by finding your ideal hut break on the DOC website.

By Moana Smith-Dunlop, Community Relations Ranger, Whakatane

Te Urewera, centre of the universe, now has the most beautiful hut in the universe too, thanks to the DOC-Dulux partnership.

Makomako hut after a DOC/Dulux makeover.

Makomako hut after a DOC/Dulux makeover

Not to be outdone by our Tauranga cohorts, our DOC/Dulux ‘paint a hut’ party also had a film crew — DOC’s talented Community Outreach Coordinator from Otago, Claudia BabiratMakomako Hut was sooo stunning she just had to come and enjoy the atmosphere and film the astonishing efficiency of our Visitor Assets and Community Relations teams!

Our team was made up of Jade Connelly (Visitor Assets power ranger and team leader), three volunteers (Gavin Muir, Waitangi Tait and Hikurangi Rurehe), and DOCies Moana Smith-Dunlop (Community Relations Ranger) and Earl Rewi (Programme Manager Visitor and Historic Assets).

Painting the hut.

Left: Hiks and Wai painting the deck. Right: Gavin and Wai starting the inside.

Makomako Hut lives below Maungapohatu in the Te Urewera National Park, and along the famous six foot track. While we were there, there was obvious sign of deer in the area, and the hut clearing looked almost good enough to be a golfing green. With a forecast of three days of sun we launched into the painting with a ferocity that stunned our intrepid film maker.

Makomako Hut before painting.

Makomako Hut before painting

Our colour scheme, the winning entry designed on the Dulux ‘paint a hut’ website, was:

Roof and front door: Porari
Outside walls: Tinkertown
Deck, windows and chimney: a beautiful shade of Masterton

By the end of day one, all our supplies and people had arrived at the hut and we’d completed the outside preparation and the first coat on the outside walls and roof. With the sun setting it was time to down tools, light the fire and get dinner going.

Day two saw the outside walls and roof finished, the first swathes of Masterton on the deck, the windows and chimney done, and the start and finish of the inside. By the end of day two all we had to do was a few touch ups on the outside.

Day three dawned clear, cold and full of promise that the end was near. So with that in mind, eating all the leftover food from the previous night’s dinner became our first task, as did teaching our southern friend the finer points of the northern lingo ‘chuurrr’. That done, we finished off the painting, cleaned up, packed up, kicked back and waited for the chopper to arrive to take us home.

Left: Group jumping for joy. Right: Makomako Hut sign.

Left: Moana, Jade, Gavin, Claudia, Waitangi, Hikurangi and
Earl at the conclusion of the painting. Right: Makomako Hut sign.

A mammoth effort by the team! Go team Te Urewera! We could not have got through all the work without the efforts of our hard working vollies.

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).

March is Whio Awareness Month. To celebrate this, we profile Andrew Glaser—Whio Recovery Group Leader in the Te Urewera/ Whirinaki Area Office.

Andy and dog Neo walking in Te Urewera National Park.

A walk in the park, Te Urewera National Park

At work

Some things I do in my job include… trying to be the best ambassador/leader for whio, to inspire people, motivate and provide quality technical advice that will achieve whio recovery across New Zealand.

Some of the other things; Programme Manager Biodiversity Assets/Threats, Te Urewera Mainland Island, Area Compliance Officer, Fire Response Co-ordinator Whakatane/Opotiki, North Island Species Dog Certifier and a Whio/Kiwi Dog Handler.

How? Great support from my manager and a highly competent team of guys and girls in the Te Urewera Mainland Island and whio recovery programme that have the same passion and drive!!!

The best bit about my job is… being “Caption Whio”, a caped crusader for the Whio Recovery Programme, I can legitimately wear my underwear on the outside, because I know I have the support of my loyal sidekick and accomplice Tim, aka “Duck Boy” Allerby! Seriously. The whio work; a 4.30 dawn start, watchin’ the sunrise, riding up the river on my horse Ziggy, the feeling of contentedness and familiarity of horse and his gate, the creak of the leather saddle and clip of his hoofs over the coble and rhythm. The river environment; cool fresh air, the smell of the bush and Te Waiiti singing over the boulders as it runs through Te Urewera. The enjoyment of watching Neo hunting the river’s edge in search of whio, stalking ever so slowly then locking into a full point. The whistle of the male whio calls carrying across the chorus of the river’s song followed by the rattley growl of the female protecting a brood of seven ducklings. That’s the best!

Also working with a whole bunch of like minded whiolks associated with the programme, and achieving the success we have to date has been whiotastic!

Andy on Kaharoa trig, Te Urewera.

Top of the world, Kaharoa trig, Te Urewera

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far has been… initiating the partnership with Genesis Energy through the Whio Recovery Group in August 2010. This has been the most significant national milestone for whio conservation.

Their sponsorship, marketing capability and enthusiasm has provided us with the resources to implement the Whio Recovery Plan to raise public awareness and achieve whio recovery across New Zealand.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… Dr Murray Williams. Murray was very inspirational in my career, demonstrating his dedication through 15 years of whio studies on the Manganui o te Ao river and his knowledge of waterfowl. He freely transferred his knowledge and taught me the tricks of the trade using his dry wit and sarcasm to keep me on my toes and always motivated. I guess I have tried to emulate these qualities through my career and similarly inspire and motivate people by encouraging them within their programmes and transferring the knowledge that I have gained over the past two decades (geez is that how long it’s been!).

Andy doing whio work in Te Urewera National Park.

Whio work in Te Urewera National Park.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that… I whakapapa to a line of American pioneers that settled in Nevada from Spain, hence my cowboy antics, love of horses and can do attitude. Ole’!

The song that always cheers me up is… I love music and there are so many songs to choose from, but this is a recent one that makes me smile. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

In my spare time I… love to surf! It’s like baptising the soul, cleaning out all the cobwebs, washing away worries n stress, while getting an upper body work out. Quite a magical spiritual feeling of freedom, harnessing a piece of Mother Nature’s power and riding clean open wave face. Oooooh yea. Sorry, only a surfer knows the feeling! This may explain why I like whio, they too like water.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… well, they’re all cool. From the cute little rifleman, to the hunters of the sky – the karearea, that scream through the sky at great speeds – and to the checky kea which some have likened me to. But if I had to pick, I would honestly say – yes, you guessed it – a whio!

That way I could play in the highest quality New Zealand waters, run some rapids, surf some standing waves, go with the flow and soak up the sun on a river bank. If bored, I could whistle, bite some tail, preen, dive, have a wrestle with the neighbour and keep an ever watching eye on what’s going on. Then, when feeling the need for speed, would take to wing and scream up and down the river at low levels like a fighter jet.

My secret indulgence is… I have a few: coffee, red wine (merlot), tequila, Mexican food, hot n spicy things, green salads, venison back steak bbq’d whole to m/ rare, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, fresh coriander and sexy… whio 😉 Got to love those lips, the only bird that has them. Haha even Angelina Jolie can’t compare!

Andy going for a surf.

Clean open face, oooh yea!

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quotes …

“Time to Cowboy up” – My dad.

“Take a teaspoon of cement and harden up” – My daughter (we breed them tough) haha.

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

“Even though it’s work Andrew, nobody says you can’t have fun along the way” – Jono Williams, Project Kiwi, Kouatunu Peninsula.

In work and life I am motivated by… the challenge to succeed, by my kids, with the desire to leave a lasting legacy for them and an example to follow. I am also motivated by strong, passionate people with a commitment for conservation, team unity, positive open culture and people with drive. People like the members of Recovery Group, who go above and beyond for the cause, hugely committed in their national roles for whio. I am motivated by every practitioner and by all the hard yards that each and everyone has demonstrated through their initiatives and dedication to get their whio recovery programmes up and running. The community groups – Friends of Flora, Wapiti Foundation – and individuals like Dan Steele who see conservation as a New Zealand identity worth preserving. Tangata whenua for their staunch passion for the whenua, the ngahiri, tikanga and toanga species that dwell within Aotearoa. The recent partnership with Genesis has given new motivation through their sponsorship to enable us to actually turn the corner in whio conservation and secure this iconic species.

Ooh and a great cup of coffee!!!!

A net full of whio fledglings caught by Andy for tagging.

A net full of whio fledglings

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… our natural heritage is your identity as a New Zealander and what makes you as unique as the whio itself is to this country.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? I feel like I’m invisible already, well at times! I would be quite mischievous, nothing deviant or illegal, not in my nature but probably pranking my friends, random people and have a laugh. Boo!


Whio Family Fun Day at Auckland Zoo!

Andy Glaser and some of the other whio rangers will be at Auckland Zoo this weekend for the Whio family fun days at the new whio enclosure. Bring your families along to check out the enclosure and to join in a variety of fun activities around the enclosure.

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 Robyn Orchard, Communications and Engagement Advisor.

Name: Robyn Orchard.

Position: Communications and Engagement Advisor Tongariro-Whanganui-Taranaki (TWT) and East Coast Bay of Plenty).

Robyn and Mavis at the Sika Show in Taupō with a kowhai and weta painted on their faces.

Robyn and her ‘little sister’ Mavis (mentor with Big Brother Big Sister) at the recent Sika Show in Taupō, who both got face paintings from staff at the DOC stands. Robyn sported the kowhai and Mavis the weta!

At work…


What kind of things do you do in your role?

A male whio/blue duck on the banks of a river.

The male whio I got up close and personal with on a recent trip into Waimana Valley

That’s a really good question and not that easy to answer as I have only been in the role (one of the new ones) for less than three months! But here goes.

As Communications and Engagement Advisor for DOC across both the Tongariro-Whanganui-Taranaki and East Coast Bay of Plenty areas. I provide communications, marketing and engagement advice.  I also work with DOC looking for new opportunities to grow, support and increase the value of conservation.

As well as working on some major national projects such as Whio Forever and the Great Walks, I am also involved in other projects such as Conservation Management Strategies and  Engagement Growth Plans. In Tongariro-Whanganui-Taranaki I work on the strategic direction, Destination planning for Taranaki, Tongariro and the Great Lake and in ECBOP on Central Park, Te Urewera Rainforest route, the Community Volunteers conference and the Tarawera Trail.

As you will have gathered, mine is a shared role, so it is lucky I am a middle child and am used to sharing 🙂

Tuhoe Waimana Kaumatua Paki Te Pou and Robyn crossing the stream on a horse.

Tuhoe Waimana Kaumatua Paki Te Pou and me (the one nearly falling off into the river) on Raven doing one of our many river crossings

What is the best part about your job?

They say that variety is the spice of life and that’s what I love about this new job. Every day is different and I am constantly learning new things.

I am very much a people person so meeting the many people throughout my conservancies who are so passionate about what they do, that it rubs off on you, and is one of the bonuses of my role!

Whio Recovery Group Leader Andy Glaser crosses the stream on horseback.

Whio Recovery Group Leader Andy Glaser on Ziggy Pop and Neo the Whio dog during our Te Urewera Whio adventure

What is the hardest part about your job?

Learning the DOC-isms and all the DOC systems.

What led you to your role in DOC?

Right time right place! An ad in the local newspaper just at the time I was looking for a new challenge. And I think this role is definitely challenging but rewarding.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

A trip into Te Urewera National Park, Waimana Valley for an up close whio encounter with staff from DOC, Genesis, a film crew and some media.

What better way to start a week than jumping up behind Tuhoe Waimana Kaumatua Paki Te Pou on Raven the horse, and trekking back and forth across the river to check traplines, walking with Whio Recovery Group Leader Andy Glaser and his Whio dog Neo seeking out the distinct endangered blue duck.

I wasn’t so keen on Andy’s Whio wake up whistle at around 5am but overall it was one of those memorable experiences, the kind that I am looking forward to having working for DOC.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Family – husband Dave and daughter Hannah 21, and also the extended whanau which includes our ten international host sons and daughters from around the world who lived with us for their year at school here in New Zealand.
  2. Travel – with sons and daughters (and two host grand daughters) in France, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, USA, Italy, Argentina, Greenland and Iceland, international travel takes on a whole new light. Staying with ‘family’ you see the real culture and taste the real cuisine.
  3.  Good Friends – I love to get together and socialise with good friends.
Robyn and her family with the family of her "host son" in Argentina.

Christmas and New Year in Argentina with our host son Leo was an amazing experience – eating a very meat based Christmas dinner at 11pm on Xmas Eve meant dessert wasn’t started ’til well into Christmas Day!

Three pet peeves

  1. Lateness.
  2. Lack of, or bad, manners.
  3. Nana drivers!

Three foods

  1. Real Italian gelato.
  2. Central Otago Christmas Black Dawson Cherries.
  3. My Italian host son’s chocolate tiramisu.

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Great Lake Taupō (that’s why we live here).
  2. Alexandra (where I grew up).
  3. Mt Ruapehu (isn’t that why we live here).

Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie: I Love musicals – so classics like The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Mama Mia.
  • Album: The classic movie soundtracks that I can sing along to in the car.
  • Book: I can’t really admit to being a Harry Potter fan so it will have to be anything by Lee Childs or David Baldacci (physcological thrillers)
Jenny Burke, Corporate Brand and Community Investment Executive Genesis Energy, me,  Sarah Murray from Sunday magazine (Sunday Star Times supplement) and Sophie Barclay from Element magazine (NZ Herald supplement) .

Jenny Burke, Corporate Brand and Community Investment Executive Genesis Energy, me, Sarah Murray from Sunday magazine (Sunday Star Times supplement) and Sophie Barclay from Element magazine (NZ Herald supplement)

Deep and meaningful…

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

You can do it reach for the moon, achieve all your dreams. But remember a perm in curly hair makes you look like Janet Frame.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I am inspired everyday by smiles. By those people that overcome adversity, challenges and incredible obstacles but continue to throw themselves into life and smile.

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

A primary school teacher or a nun (such a cool outfit), but when I heard they didn’t get paid that well I went off that idea.

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

Rich – having won lotto first division I would be travelling the world visiting family, friends and that 3-year-old boy (that I sponsor) and his village in Malawi!

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Turn it off and recycle.

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

Leave the car at home – ride or walk more. I’m really looking forward to moving into our new office so I can walk to work. And the bike in the garage won’t ride itself!

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

It would have to be the kea – they are so cheeky I think I might be a human kea already!

Robyn's smiling face.

Yep, people say I have the personality of a kea

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

Take care of the environment today so it is there for our grandchildren tomorrow.