The Department of Conservation is to set up new regional service centres in its Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch offices as it moves to re-organise its systems for supporting conservation staff in the field.
As a result a number of science and technical jobs have been cut from the Department of Conservation's Whanganui, Taranaki and Turangi offices, and some new support roles will be consolidated in a new conservancy office in Taupo. The changes do not affect ranger positions in the Department’s area offices, or the location of the area offices.
Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki conservator Damian Coutts says the decision to move the conservancy office to Taupo was “very tough to make, and a traumatic one for many of the affected staff, but was necessary in order to position the Department’s staff closer to its key partners and stakeholders in the region.”
Of the 19-20 jobs likely to be lost from the local communities of New Plymouth, Whanganui and Turangi, Mr Coutts says 9 positions would remain in the new conservancy office, and these positions will be based in Taupo from July of next year. He says “It is important to understand that many of the positions disestablished as a result of the review announced yesterday have been relocated rather than disestablished altogether. This means staff will have the option to relocate to a service centre, or regain employment with the Department in one of our area offices. However it still does represent a significant impact on our staff, and on the local economies of the affected towns, and that has not made the final decision any easier to make.”
Relocations are due to the establishment, as part of the wider departmental review, of three service centres in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, where service jobs will be created. “By moving the support staff from a regional base into professional groupings, the department would be able to provide more cost-effective systems and would gain a stronger national focus to its work” says Mr Coutts.
These service jobs include roles in legal, planning, science, technical and communication positions, but not rangers. “The department is committed to maintaining services on the ground, and this review has been focussed on finding more cost effective ways to organise DOC’s systems for supporting the work of staff out in the field”, Mr Coutts says.
“We want to maintain our conservation field work and we are keeping all our ranger positions - but we are making changes to the roles in our regional and national offices which support their work. In the past we’ve grouped our support systems by region, with additional back-up from our National Office in Wellington. This has led to some duplication and a regional rather than national focus for our work.”
Mr Coutts say “all staff with service positions would need to reapply for their jobs within the region or those available in other regions or the service centres. We can’t say exactly how many people will lose their jobs because we are still working through the options, such as redeployment, with our staff. We expect to finalise the situation over the next six months.”