Archives For Weeds

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 James Arnold, Ranger – Biodiversity Threats.

Name: James Arnold.

Position: Standing up, A band Biodiversity threats.

James Arnold holding a takahe.

My first takahē release

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

Kill weeds and protect trees—mostly the killing part.

What is the best part about your job? 

The places we get to go.

James Arnold mixing a knapsack.

Myself mixing a knapsack

What is the hardest part about your job?

Leaving every day.

What led you to your role in DOC? 

I got tired of being a chef and needed a change of pace.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Unleashing mass amounts of pain on the periwinkle on Blumine Island.

James Arnold spraying weeds.

Myself on the spray gun with Damon acting as the hose guide

The rule of 3…

3 loves

  1. Food.
  2. Cooking.
  3. Hunting.

3 pet peeves

  1. People who dump their garden waste over the sides of roads.
  2. Angry drivers.
  3. Paradise ducks (many a ruined hunt).

3 foods

  1. Homemade aoli.
  2. Venison.
  3. Strawberry cheesecake.
Aubrey Tai with a minor old man's beard infestation.

Aubrey Tai with a minor old man’s beard infestation

3 favourite places in New Zealand

  1. St. Omer.
  2. Maud Island.
  3. Paringa river on the West Coast.

Favourite movie

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

James Arnold Hunting.

A nice relaxing weekend

Deep and meaningful…

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

Lotto numbers.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Calvin Tuck –  keep on trucking big man.

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

A ninja.

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

A ninja.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Stop dumping waste over the sides of roads. Eventually someone has to clean it up.

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

Kill more weeds.

A photo of the sunset.

Northern camp sunset looking towards Picton/Maud Island.

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

A moa—freak some scientists out lol.

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

Don’t ignore weeds! It’s all good having cuddly species again, but if they have nowhere to live, what then?

Track on Blumine Island.

The only flat part on Blumine Island, around 10m of track

This has got to be the best office in the world!!!!

The sunrise view of South East Bay from my bunk

I’ve just spent a week with 14 other staff, four volunteers and two owners on Tuhua (Mayor) Island.  Whilst the view of the sunrise from my bunk each morning was a great way to start each day, it was certainly no holiday. 

Each day we loaded our gear and set off on a range of tasks all over the island, returning at the end of day to eat and fall into bed, exhausted but excited to have made a dent in the long list of jobs we had to complete.

Our hard work was rewarded by regular sightings of rare birds, plants, lizards and marine mammals.  Here are just a few of the locals that we saw.

We’ve been working in partnership with the owners (Tuhua Trust Board) for many years to restore the pest-free island and now we’re helping them to make it more accessible for people to enjoy.

I spent three days with our botanist and weed specialists spraying and searching for weeds all over the island, including one day of wading through a wetland, pushing through head-high walls of vegetation in search of the invasive royal fern.  

Spray unit loaded and off to spray weeds

The wetland we waded through










My last day was spent helping to fix the floor of the caretakers cottage and shifting firewood.

Eveyone’s skills and expertise were used around the island – upgrading buildings, tracks, water supply, removing massive fallen pohutukawa logs from where they had fallen on top of buildings, cleaning up the ammentity areas, killing weeds, patrolling the Marine Reserve, searching for springs in preparation for our orange-front parakeet transfer coming up in December and checking on the pateke (brown teal) and kiwi that have been released on the island.

Rope & chainsaw skills got put to the test

Dave checked out a cliffside kiwi nest

Chris and John fixed the floor

Tawara cleared the track

Dean & Alastair built a huge firewood pile

As inviting as the water looked, I only managed one swim – the cool water and 2m shark we saw swimming in the bay on our first evening were a little off-putting.  But when I did get wet, I took mask & snorkel with me and got to see some beautiful kelp beds, big angel fish and incredibly glossy obsidian.

Click here to find out how you could visit Tuhua – Tauranga’s piece of paradise.