To celebrate World Ranger Day, New Zealand introduces a few of their conservation rangers who have come from a round the world. These rangers are passionate about nature and the great outdoors, their jobs look like a wonderful adventure. Hard work but very rewarding.
James Reardon – Science Advisor Conservation Ranger
From Wales to Te Anau: James Reardon, Science Advisor, Threats and Herpetology
Welshman James Reardon has an impressive list of talents. He’s been a zoologist, photographer and cinematographer, television presenter and ecologist, and currently he works for the DoC. He’s lived and worked in some of the world’s most beautiful places, and today calls New Zealand home.
After working in film for some time, Reardon realised he needed to return to his primary interests: ecology and conservation. “New Zealand was somewhere that had always interested me from an evolutionary perspective, [as] there’s a tremendous wealth of herpetofauna here: giant weta [insects], flightless parrots, giant rails [birds] and a diverse range of lizards,” he says. “I came here to re-engage with conservation and biology and to do post-doctoral work at Landcare Research with Otago University, working with alpine weta and endangered lizard communities, which is fascinating.”
This brought him into contact with some of the DoC’s species recovery programmes and, in a case of being in the right place at the right time, Reardon was offered a position as a science advisor for threatened species in 2004.
“I’m not in the field as often as I’d like to be, but I love that my job allows me to make a tangible difference to conservation outcomes,” he says. “Spreadsheets and reports aren’t all that rewarding but that work is often critical in assisting with recovery programmes.”
And for those who want to follow in Reardon’s footsteps, he suggests people follow their passions, and their morals. “The thing that gets me out of bed each morning is the feeling that my work matters.”
From Germany to Takaka: Hans Stoffregen, Senior Ranger
Born and bred near Hamburg in northern Germany, Hans Stoffregen has been a fan of the great outdoors for as long as he can remember. “Very early on, I was a nature-focused boy and, as I grew up, I also wanted to go travelling, so when I was 22 I bought a motorcycle and went travelling through Asia, Australia and New Zealand.”
A shipbuilder by trade, Stoffregen worked in shipyards in Germany and Perth, in the mines in Australia and as a boilermaker in Wellington. “But I didn’t want to stay in that industry so in 1990 I enrolled at [Wellington’s] Victoria University and did a Masters in Conservation Studies, and part of it included a placement with the DoC [Department of Conservation].”
That placement turned into a full-time job, and today Stoffregen is a senior manager for biodiversity, based in Takaka in the north of the South Island.
“I love the diversity of the work,” he says. “Every day is something different. You never know what’s going to come at you. We’re always improvising, make things up as we go along. There is no recipe.”
He’s lucky enough to work in a field where he can make a difference. “Ten or 20 years ago I planted trees, now they’re a forest. And we’re lucky in Golden Bay; we have some awesome programmes coming up. We’re engaged in all sorts of projects to control major pests and bring missing bits of flora and fauna back into the park. We’re even looking at bringing the endangered takahe into the area.”
From London to the Bay of Islands: Andrew Blanshard, Historical Ranger
Born in London to Kiwi parents, Andrew Blanshard spent his childhood in places as diverse as Tokyo and the US. “We grew up tramping in the summer holidays and whenever we came back home to New Zealand we’d stay on cousins’ farms,” he recalls. “I’ve always been much happier outside than inside.”
While in the UK, finishing his studies in archaeology at Durham University, Blanshard was looking for work when the role of Historical Ranger in the Bay of Islands was advertised. “All of my research back in the UK was actually in New Zealand and I knew I wanted to come home. All I wanted was to find a job that would let me wear tramping boots to work.”
Blanshard says he wears several hats in his role as historical ranger. “I’m charged with looking after the Department’s historic assets within the Bay of Islands, including Whangaroa Harbour to Cape Brett and parts of the Hokianga. I also have a biosecurity predator dog who sniffs out rats and we spend lots of time ensuring our islands remain pest free.”
With a passion for New Zealand’s heritage, Blanshard is fascinated with prehistoric and pre-European Māori sites. “I love those excavations, working with local hapu [tribes]. Archaeology can tell you so much and then the hapu come along with another layer of understanding. That interface is part of what brought me home: the UK sites may have been older but you never got the full story the way you can here.”
see the relating article: New Zealand Conservation Ranger