Volunteer scans using a radio antennae

Image: Stacey Lockie | DOC

Introduction

The Haast Biodiversity team is looking for 1–2 volunteers for 6 months to assist them with the 2019/20 field season. The role will focus on monitoring the wild population of Haast tokoeka kiwi.

Dates

October/November 2019 – April/May 2020. 

Minimum 6-month commitment.

Description

This summer season, the team are looking to monitor kiwi chicks in the wild in response to intensive predator control. As the Haast tokoeka are intensively managed the fieldwork season is extremely busy, with a high level of reactionary work. Volunteers will allow us to fulfil the work program to a high standard and appropriately tend to unexpected work.

The Haast Tokoeka (Apteryx australis Haast) is a critically endangered kiwi taxa. The majority of the population is concentrated within the Haast Range in South Westland.

Over approximately 20 years, an adaptive management programme has been established to combat the decline of the species, largely due to predators. A suite of tools has been used, including landscape-scale pest trapping, aerial toxic bait control, and Operation Nest Egg (ONE). Operation Nest Egg involves the captive hatching and rearing of chicks in predator-free environments.

More about the tokoeka

Tasks

During this time your duties and responsibilities will likely include:

  • kiwi chick survival monitoring
  • population monitoring using radio telemetry
  • camera trap monitoring and data analysis
  • acoustic recorder monitoring and data analysis
  • field data recording and data management
  • clearing and re-setting predator traps
  • egg collection and incubation
  • maintenance of equipment, vehicles, tracks and huts
  • administrative and cleaning tasks.

You may also be involved in other biodiversity work done by the Haast kiwi team.  Their projects include:

  • mohua
  • tawaki (Fiordland crested penguins)
  • lizards
  • New Zealand fur seals.

About Haast

Haast is a small community surrounded by spectacular mountains, bush and beaches. People come here for the rugged outdoor lifestyle that includes:

  • hunting
  • fishing
  • kayaking
  • tramping.

There is limited cell phone coverage in Haast and for a 1.5-hour drive in any direction. Internet is slow and expensive and is not available in most houses. Food and eateries comprise a small convenience store, one small café and two pubs.

Volunteers will be based in Haast, with much of the work taking place in the Haast kiwi Sanctuary in the Haast Range, a 45-minute drive from the Haast township. You may be required to occasionally work in other locations such as Fiordland, Southland, Otago and the wider South Westland district.

The Haast range is very steep and rugged. The job requires a very high level of fitness and will not suit anyone who suffers from vertigo. You must be experienced at walking off-track on consecutive days with a 15kg pack over steep, rough terrain. Overnight hut stays and camping for up to five days may be required.

What to expect

Time Commitment

Volunteers would be expected to work a 40-hour week. Some longer days, night work, weekend work or work over public holidays may be required.

Extra hours worked will be given back as time owed in lieu. The Department closes over the Christmas and New Year – Monday, 23 December to Friday, 27 January 2020.

Accommodation

Provided in the Haast township. A comfortable, furnished, 3-bedroom house shared with others. Local landline phone, power and firewood are provided.

Training

Volunteers will receive a full induction and initially work alongside DOC staff, receiving on-the-job training.

Training will include:

  • radio telemetry
  • wildlife monitoring techniques
  • wildlife handling.

You'll gain a sound repertoire of wildlife management skills on this progressive program and will travel to work via foot, helicopter, 4WD and jetboat into the stunningly beautiful Haast Range. By the end of the summer, you will be a trained kiwi ranger.

Essential skills and characteristics

You must:

  • have a very high level of fitness – able to walk 8 hrs carrying a 15 kg pack in rough and steep terrain
  • be comfortable working in challenging conditions (wet, muddy, steep, cold, sandflies etc)
  • be able to complete backcountry travel and navigation alone – map reading/compass/GPS
  • be able to live in a small, remote town
  • have a positive attitude, wilingness to learn and sense of humour
  • be a good team member, have good behaviour and have clear communication skills
  • have a passion for conservation
  • have a full drivers licence.

What to bring

If you're selected, you will be given more information about what to bring closer to the time.

What will be provided

  • $200 per week in food/fuel vouchers following a successful 2-week trial period.
  • All personal protective gear, field equipment and camping gear.
  • Full training and support.
  • Opportunity to do a short research project if you're a university student and you need one for your studies.

How to apply

Send a CV and cover letter outlining your skills and interest in the positions to Stacey Lockie.

Email: slockie@doc.govt.nz

Applications for these positions will close 4 pm, 12 September 2019.

Contact

For further information contact Biodiversity Supervisor, Stacey Lockie.

Phone: +64 27 571 1659

Email: slockie@doc.govt.nz

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