Archives For Tokoeka

Today’s photo is of a Haast tokoeka kiwi, a shy, mountain-loving bird and one of our rarest kiwi species.

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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 Hannah Edmonds, Biodiversity Ranger in the Fiordland District Office.

At work

Some things I do in my job include…monitoring Haast tokoeka (kiwi) chicks on crèche islands, little spotted kiwi, mohua and saddleback translocations, monitoring Fiordland crested penguins, monitoring long and short tailed bats, and monitoring lizards on islands and in the alpine.

Releasing Haast tokoeka on Pomona Island. Photograph: Barry Harcourt

Releasing Haast tokoeka on Pomona Island with Blair Hoult

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by…ensuring the survival of wildlife and restoring ecosystems.

The best bit about my job is… visiting some amazing places, and working with challenging and endearing species.

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… oh so many awesome moments, it’s hard to choose one but flying over Fiordland in the fading light after dropping of little spotted kiwi to their new home on Chalky Island (who’ve been absent from Fiordland for 100 years) would have to be up there.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is…no one particular person. There are many of my colleagues that work above and beyond a normal working week, driven purely by passion.

Hannah climbing in the Sinbad Gully searching for Sinbad skinks.

Climbing in the Sinbad Gully searching for Sinbad skinks

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that I… hmmm, now why would I share a secret?

The song that always cheers me up is… “Sun is shining” by Bob Marley… guaranteed to make you smile and not get it out of your head, even if it is raining!

My stomping ground is… Fiordland’s wild places.

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… David Attenborough.

My best ever holiday was… probably trekking in India and Nepal.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… a short-tailed bat – imagine being one of New Zealand’s only native land mammals, being able to fly at night and having plenty of attitude!

My secret indulgence is… Trademe!

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to…travel the world, be famous, own an island… not too much really!

Before working at DOC I… travelled the world, but never owned an island.

A Fiordland crested penguin with chick.

Fiordland crested penguin with chick on Breaksea Island a few weeks ago

On a kiwi note…

What would a New Zealand full of kiwi look like? Like a brown mass of fluffy feathers!

If you could give kiwi one super power, what would it be? Super size it so it becomes like a moa.

How can everyday New Zealanders help save the kiwi? Take part in predator control, do volunteer work with kiwi, or make donations to kiwi charities.

If you could ask a kiwi one question, what would it be? What does the world look like to you?

Do you have a favourite kiwi? Fiordland tokoeka of course!

A helicopter being loaded with mountains in the background.

Loading helicopter with boxes of mohua in the Landsborough, to be released on Resolution Island

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities,” by Dr Suess.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… go with the flow.

In work and life I am motivated by… doing something I enjoy, and making a difference.

Today’s photo, of a Stewart Island tokoeka kiwi, celebrates Save Kiwi Week (14 – 20 October).

Tokoeka kiwi on Stewart Island.

Tokoeka – literally meaning “weka with a walking stick” (Ngai Tahu) has four geographically and genetically distinct forms—Haast, northern Fiordland, southern Fiordland and Stewart Island.

The Stewart Island tokoeka are unusual among kiwi for being active during the daytime, as you can see in this photo taken by Alina Thiebes.

Stewart Island/Rakiura is probably the easiest place to observe kiwi in the wild, where some 20,000 still survive.

You can find out more about Save Kiwi Week and how you can help to protect kiwi on the Kiwis for kiwi website.

To celebrate Save Kiwi Week which kicks off next Monday we profile Michelle Impey, Executive Director at Kiwis for kiwi.

At work

Michelle Impey holding a rowi kiwi.

Holding a rowi kiwi

Some things I do in my job include… Kiwis for kiwi is a small two-person team so my role is pretty broad! I am mostly office-bound and my job description includes everything from working with the Trustees to set/deliver the strategic direction for the Trust, managing relationships with stakeholders, fundraising strategy and execution, marketing and fronting media etc.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by…keeping one of its partnerships ticking along.

The best bit about my job is… I have two favourite bits. I have a saying I like to use: “No one is saving kiwi to get rich”. There are some amazing people around New Zealand who are working hard to protect kiwi, and often with a huge contribution of their own time and money. They are salt-of-the-earth people and it’s really awesome to work alongside them.

And, in a best-of-both-worlds scenario, I feel really fortunate that I get to use my business skills and background but with a way more gratifying outcome than I would have in the corporate world – which is usually about selling more product and/or increasing return to shareholders. In this role, if I do a good job, there is more money for kiwi conservation work and that is hugely rewarding.

The funniest/strangest/loveliest/scariest/awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… I’ve been in this role eight years so there have been lots of funny, strange, lovely and scary moments, but probably one of my stand-out awesome memories is of a day in Fiordland a few years ago, where I got taken out on a ‘kiwi hunt’ with the DOC team to find a tokoeka that needed a transmitter change. It was a nine-hour day to find and capture that one bird but what an amazing day in the bush! It highlights how hard the work can be, but also how enormously gratifying and rewarding it is.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… I have to pick a collection or group rather than singling out one amazing person, and that is the Kiwi Recovery Group. It is led by DOC but is comprised of both DOC and non-DOC people with broad ranging kiwi knowledge and experience that spans decades. I am really privileged to sit on this group because of my role with the Trust, and am constantly amazed at the breadth of knowledge the group possesses and the thoughtful advice that is given out on kiwi issues around the country.

Michelle tramping in the Kaimanawa Ranges.

I love Auckland, but love to get out of it too! Here’s me on a tramping trip in the Kaimanawa Ranges

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that I… don’t work for DOC, don’t work for BNZ, and prior to this role had not worked in a conservation-related field.

The song that always cheers me up is… um, anything that isn’t country and western, but I have a few faves in the music library at the moment. Can’t usually go wrong with Foo Fighters or Jack Johnson, depending on the mood.

My stomping ground is… the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland. Only a 20 minute drive and you’ve got miles and miles of amazing bush trails for running.

My best ever holiday was… my first trip ever to a completely different country (I’m from Canada) – Thailand. There is something very cool about all of those travel ‘firsts’ – eating who-knows-what from road-side stalls, not speaking the language, discovering new foods, new culture, new landscapes etc.

My greatest sporting moment was when… I crossed the finish line at Ironman Canada for the first time.  It wasn’t a podium finish (by a very long shot) but by far the toughest sporting event I have done to date.

If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… any one of them that live on a predator-free offshore island. That’d be the sweet life….

If I wasn’t working at Kiwis for kiwi, I’d like to…be a philanthropist.

Holding a kakapo on Codfish Island.

Life isn’t completely kiwi. It was awesome to do a volunteer stint with the kakapo team on Codfish Island

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “I was sad I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”. I don’t know where it originated but it is such a good perspective check for when you think things aren’t going so well.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… when you don’t know what to do, do something.

In work and life I am motivated by… happiness. I like to do what makes me happy. It’s simple (and it’s hedonistic), but it works.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… every little bit really can make a difference.

Michelle skiing in Canada.

Life before New Zealand – in an equally beautiful part of the world – Canada

Thanks to the efforts of the Pomona Island Charitable Trust the island’s Haast tokoeka kiwi are kept safe from predators.

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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 Ranger Cadet, Kevin Carter.

At work

Position: Ranger Cadet

Mount Fox makes for a great, nearby day walk with spectacular views

What kind of things do you do in your role?

A little bit of everything. As part of the cadetship programme I spent the first year working across all delivery programmes. There is a fantastic variety—from track maintenance through to weed control, from health and safety audits to being on the front desk, to name but a few. I’m really looking forward to working on the Haast Tokoeka team and starting my Community Relations placement!

My first time holding a kiwi - a great spotted female called Marama near Arthur’s Pass

What is the best part about your job?

Living down in the beautiful and isolated South Westland. This is a truly special part of the country. I love the vast tracks of lowland forests, the gorgeous mountains and the fantastic array of native wildlife. I love having the opportunity to contribute as much as I can and I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered many chances to do just that.

South Westland is one of the best spots in the country

What is the hardest part about your job?

Starting from scratch every time I join a new programme. There’s a new learning curve each time and you only have a few months (sometimes a few weeks) in each to take in as much as you can. It’s a great challenge though and it means unparalleled job variety!

What was the highlight of your month just gone?

A two and a half hour whitebait compliance helicopter flight along the coast line from Fox Glacier down to the Cascade river mouth. The coastal views of bluffs, isolated beaches, rock stacks and forested hills were simply spectacular. You get an amazing perspective of the landscape.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. Indian food
  2. Backcountry tramping
  3. Star gazing

Tramping in the Cobb Valley

Three pet peeves

  1. The maximum exposure time on my camera being only eight seconds
  2. People saying “your” when they mean “you’re”
  3. Facebook and Twitter logos all over the show 

Three things always in your fridge 

  1. Sour cream (gorgeous with a bag of corn chips)
  2. Dijonnaise mustard
  3. Worchestershire black sauce (best condiment out)

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. South Westland of course
  2. Arthur’s Pass area
  3. Cobb Valley, Kahurangi

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Movie: Rob Roy—fantastic acting and a good story
  2. Album: At the moment: Gary Moore’s Back on the streets
  3. Book: River God by Wilbur Smith

Deep and meaningful…

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

Don’t be so shy, get out there and make the most of it.

My surprise 21st birthday trip to the West Coast. I passed through two of the top three spots in the country

Who or what inspires you and why?

People who dedicate all their time and effort to a cause they believe in so passionately.

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

I went through many stages, beginning with a postman and including ‘Farmer Brown’ (I didn’t really consider the surname an issue). As I got older I thought about being an architect, an astronomer and even considered working in I.T.

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

This is tough since working at DOC has been a long-time ambition! It would have to be an outdoors role, perhaps guiding or something in adventure tourism. Working as an astronomer would be amazing as well.

I spent many weekends trying to see as much of the North Island as I could during my summer work placement

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

A kea—with an impressive intellect and the ability to range from the alpine to the lowlands there’d be a stack of fun to be had. I could also join one of the ‘hoon groups‘ that maraud some towns.

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

That conservation is the most important work we can undertake. Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of our economy, recreation, identity and lifestyle. We rely on our natural environment and we need to be protecting it to the best of our ability. Our species and ecosystems are all interconnected and looking at the big picture of conservation is critical.