DOC Marine Reserves Ranger Stew Robertson with mana whenua iwi members
Image: Mel McColgan | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Motueka DOC ranger Stew Robertson will travel to Indonesia to study local communities’ involvement in marine protected areas as the 2022 winner of DOC’s Stephen O’Dea Development Award.

Date:  30 July 2022

The Stephen O’Dea Development Award was established in memory of Stephen O’Dea, the Field Centre Manager at Punakaiki who died along with 13 Tai Poutini Polytechnic students when the Cave Creek viewing platform collapsed on 28 April 1995. The naming of the recipient of the annual award is timed for World Ranger Day 31 July.

DOC Director-General Penny Nelson says the Stephen O’Dea Development Award provides DOC’s frontline staff with a professional development opportunity in conservation management.

“Stew has been a Marine Reserves Ranger for nearly two years and the award will enable him to travel to Indonesia to learn about marine protection in the Raja Ampat archipelago, a globally significant marine biodiversity hotspot at the heart of the Coral Triangle.

“Stew will look at how marine conservation organisations have worked with local communities to create and manage a large marine protected area network. It will assist our understanding on ways DOC, mana whenua iwi and local communities can best work together to protect and enhance our marine environment.”

Stew Robertson says he was inspired to visit and learn about marine protection in Raja Ampat after seeing it featured in a documentary he watched when sick with COVD-19 earlier this year.

“I dreamed about going to Raja Ampat to learn about what they do and I’m thrilled to be getting the opportunity through the Stephen O’Dea Development Award. I plan to bring back a kete of knowledge we can learn from,” says Stew Robertson.

“As a Marine Reserves Ranger my role includes patrolling to ensure people are complying with marine reserve rules, including not fishing, and educating people about marine reserves. I am especially interested in the work of local marine rangers in Raja Ampat and how their compliance effort has significantly contributed to marine life rebounding in protected areas.”

Background information

World Ranger Day is observed annually on 31 July commemorating rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and celebrates the work rangers do to protect the world's natural and cultural treasures.

Raja Ampat is an archipelago of more than 1,400 islands situated off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on Papua, Indonesia’s most eastern island. It is within the Bird’s Head Seascape, established in 2004, that is dependent on a strong union of international NGOs and local, regency, provincial and national governments, coastal communities, local organisations, and universities, to balance the needs of the Seascape’s human population while protecting its rich natural resources

Visit Raja Ampat's website.


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