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By Michelle Crouchley, Partnerships Ranger, Te Anau
Following a career spanning 30 years of service to conservation, Te Anau Wildlife Park ranger Carol Gardner, has retired from DOC.
‘The big break’
Carol started working in conservation so long ago that she can’t even remember the date! It all began when she started to look for work outside of her role as mother to her four children. She was married to a farmer, and at the time many employers would not consider taking on someone in her position. When Carol mentioned she was looking for work to Lands and Survey Department staff Russell Montgomery and John Clark, they offered her a job working on tracks in the Tuatapere area. Carol describes this as her ‘big break’ and will always be thankful to Russell and John for giving her that opportunity. Reflecting on this moment, Carol said “the decisions you make about other people can change their lives and we should never forget how much influence we can have on other people.”
Carol’s career has seen her doing many different jobs in many different places throughout Fiordland. In the late 70’s and early 80’s she was part of a project building tracks in Fiordland National Park.
Carol has fond memories of working in the Hollyford Valley with John Clark. One day the fridge broke down and they had to carry it out. John shouldered the fridge and Carol walked in front, as they passed trampers John would explain his strange load by saying “I’ve got the ice; she’s got the gin!”
She then moved to Te Anau and took on a job looking after an area that spanned from Milford Sound to Mavora Lakes; it would take her three hours to drive from one end of her beat to the other!
During this time Carol was responsible for landscaping outside Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre and caretaking in the now council owned Ivon Wilson Park. For the past 24 years she has been taking care of our feathered friends at Te Anau’s Wildlife Park.
‘What will you miss most about working at DOC?’
Carol formed a deep affection for the park’s birds. She has cared for the two resident kea since they were eggs. They are now mature 25 year old birds. She hand-reared the Canadian Geese that reside in the waterfowl enclosure and has looked after all the other birds that have lived in the park: weka, kereru, pateke, ruru, parakeets, kaka, paradise shelducks and takahe. Carol found her calling as an advocate for our native birds. It is the birds at the Te Anau Wildlife Park that Carol will miss the most now she has left DOC.
Carol’s contribution to the Department will not end with her retirement as she intends to continue her service by volunteering. She also intends to spend lots of time hanging out with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, walking her dogs and tramping.