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A behind the scenes look at how DOC cares for New Zealand's unique native species and natural environment.

Nic Toki holding Takahē at Burwood.
Nic Toki at Burwood Takahē centre
Image: Julie Harvey | DOC

The DOC Sounds of Science podcast is hosted by our Threatened Species Ambassador Nic Toki.

Your host

Nic interviews our conservation experts and scientists to bring you a deep dive into some of the work happening in the conservation space.

With an extensive career in conservation, Nic’s mission as Threatened Species Ambassador is to advocate for our threatened native plants and animals. Day to day, she’s also on the senior leadership team for the Biodiversity Group in DOC.

She believes that while New Zealanders’ sense of self-definition is bound up with the love of the natural world, there can be a disconnect between what we think and what is really happening out there.

She always has the mantra of her hero, David Attenborough, in the back of her mind: “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no-one will care about what they have never experienced.”

More information about Nic Toki.


Episode 5: Bitterns

Emma Williams knows a lot about bittern/matuku. This is impressive because they’re very difficult to find. She calls them the ‘ninjas of the wetland’. In this episode, Nic and Emma talk about tracking bittern and embarrassing yourself in Mitre 10.

Listen to Emma’s tales of her adventures with bittern dog Kimi, as the duo work to protect wetlands’ precious conservation values. Plus, Emma teaches Nic how to do a bittern mating call, which will be a treat for your ears. Sort of.

The birdsong used this episode is the Australasian bittern/matuku boom.

Music is is Let’s get down to business by Cast of Characters.

Episode 4: Conservation Tech

Technical advisor Stuart Cockburn talks to us about his scientific innovations, which are world-firsts and have been critical in protecting native species.

Stu’s responsible for kākāpō snarks, track counters, seabird soundscapes, grasshopper detectors and much, much more. He also once got into a one-way fight with a great spotted kiwi (the bird started it,) and is directly responsible for Nic getting questioned by airport security. All in a day’s work for Stu.

A snark is a device that records transmitters on kākāpō.

The birdsong used this episode is the Australasian gannet.

Music is Let’s get down to business by Cast of Characters.

Episode 3: Our Lizards

Lizard expert Lynn Adams shares tales from the world of reptile conservation – including two near misses for the “curly wurly” tailed Chesterfield skink.

Lynn and Nic also discuss the main threats to lizards - mice, hedgehogs, habitat loss and climate change. They finish up on a positive note, with what we can do to help protect our native reptiles.

The birdsong used in this episode is kaki/black stilt.

Find out more:

Episode 2: The DOC vet

From kākāpō to kiwi, Kate McInnes is vet to all of New Zealand’s native species. It’s a one-of-a-kind job! Listen to Kate talk about avian lesions, kākāpō sperm and birds with salmonella.

Kate and Nic also reveal the humble origins of the now infamous ‘sperm helmet’, on display at Te Papa National Museum. 

The birdsong used in this episode is a dawn chorus with tui in the foreground.

Learn more about what to plant to support birds and wildlife.

Music is Let’s get down to business by Cast of Characters.

Te reo translation:

  • Kia ora! Ko Nic Toki tēnei. He kōnae ipurangi tēnei, e pā ana ki nga Sounds of Science.
    Hi! My name is Nic Toki and this is a podcast about Sounds of Science
  • Tēnā koe Nic. Kō Kate McInnes tōku ingoa, Kei Te Papa Atawhai ahau e mahi ana.
    Hello Nic. My name is Kate McInnes and I work at the Department of Conservation.

Episode 1: Marine mammals

Marine species expert Hannah Hendriks talks whale strandings, post-mortems and crucial data. 

The birdsong at the start of this episode is the North Island robin.

Find out more:

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