The young quartet is Jaime White (Community Ranger), Fletcher Broughton (Kauri Dieback Ambassador), Shania Hills (Kauri Dieback Ambassador) and Grace Lockwood (Community Ranger), all in their 20s. DOC Hauraki District Community Supervisor Leanne Irvine, refers to them as “the new generation of conservation professionals”.
The quartet work alongside colleagues of all ages, and conservation professionals who’ve been with DOC for several decades.
Jaime White joined DOC on a fixed-term contract as maternity cover: “I came into DOC wanting to try something different but ended up really loving it!”
“You make friendships where you didn’t think you would, and that’s one of the things I value working for DOC, along with the experience older colleagues have,” Jaime says. “There are lots of opportunities to learn.”
Although her role is primarily office-based focussing on administration and relationship management, Jaime thrives on field work and was thrilled to participate in a recent restocking of the popular Pinnacles Hut, a job done using a helicopter.
Fletcher Broughton, a keen surfer, is in his first season with DOC.
“I’ve tried a bunch of different work, but I was always waiting for the end of the day so I could go and be in nature,” he says. “I’d heard about DOC, and it sounded like a dream job. I started by volunteering and landed this track ambassador gig.”
Shania Hills says her studies in environmental science make DOC a perfect fit.
“Coming to DOC was always my dream,” she says. “It does mean a lot to me.”
Shania and Fletcher’s roles will see them spending a lot of time dealing with the public. Many of the visitors they’ll encounter will be people on holiday, and Fletcher expects they’ll be in good spirits and open to guidance about preventing the spread of Kauri Dieback.
“It’ll be cool hearing people’s stories about why they’re up here – I’m excited,” Shania says.
Long-serving staff “quickly become like mentors”, Fletcher says, while Shania believes being younger also means the quartet can bring new ideas and approaches to the Hauraki team.
Grace is “born and bred Coromandel” and started with DOC as a Track Ambassador, joining the organisation through a hui on the restoration of Moehau, a mountain important to Coromandel iwi.
“I’ve found it really cool working with all ages. They have so much experience to share with you, and you can see when you’re talking to them, they’re inspired by you, too.”
Grace is passionate about marine work and enjoys outdoor pursuits like tramping, scuba diving and kayaking. She has a strong connection to the land and it’s reflected in her commitment to her work: “You cut through all the distractions of the world, and you know your duty is to be kaitiaki (guardian), experiencing it and doing your job – I feel very strongly about this.”
Leanne says she’s immensely proud of the effort and energy of the four young rangers: “I’ve been really impressed by how these guys have thrown themselves into their work – it’s really inspiring to see the effort they go to and the spirit they show in their work. They show so much leadership.”
“I’m proud to work for the Department,” Jaime White says. “It’s a career I never thought I’d get into, and now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”