You are currently viewing <a><strong>New initiative forges conservation career paths</strong></a>
From left: Keaton Smyth, Gerry Martin, Farryn Stimpon and Kade McLean. Photo: SUPPLIED/DOC

New initiative forges conservation career paths

A new initiative aims to give young Coromandel people the chance to forge a career in conservation.

A partnership between the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry of Social Development, the Rangatahi Rangers programme will give three young people six months paid work experience with DOC’s Coromandel team.

The Rangatahi Rangers programme recently filled its second intake, offering successful candidates training, development and practical work experience in conservation.

Gerry Martin, a Ranger and Team Lead for DOC’s Whitianga crew, said the Rangatahi Rangers started in the district in August 2022.

The first three participants were Keaton Smyth, Kade McLean and Farryn Stimpson, who were kept busy dealing with cyclone and weather damage, the basics of trapping pests, and planting work. 

As part of their placements, they undertook biodiversity monitoring and threatened species management, worked on the Mercury Islands, and learned about dune restoration, planting, community engagement and office and administration skills.

“The opportunity is always there to try something new, and to push yourself past barriers you may have not even known you had,” 24 year old Keaton Smyth said. 

“I had experience working in the outdoors on orchards and farms. However, being out in the bush was a whole other thing entirely – something I had yet to experience,” she said.

“Learning to feel comfortable alone in the bush feels like a superpower I’m glad to have cultivated. Your beautiful backyard can be your biggest teacher.”

Kade McLean, 22, applied for the Rangatahi Rangers role as it offered a rare opportunity to join an organisation he was unfamiliar with.

“I immediately put forward my interest – despite having little to no clue about what they did,” he said.

“I didn’t have any opinion on DOC until joining the team. Now my impression is everyone is friendly, respectful and enjoys their work.”

Farryn Stimpson, 23 – the third of the three initial Rangatahi Rangers – echoed that view.

“The work has been extremely rewarding, for myself and the conservation of our land,” he said.

“One of my highlights working with DOC is the awesome people who make up the team here in the Whitianga-Coromandel office – as well as the opportunity to be working outside.

“The experience working here has positively impacted my life and changed the direction of where I thought I’d be in 5-10 years.

“If you think working outdoors is for you my advice would be to chase a job with DOC, you won’t regret it.“

“Snatch up this opportunity as quickly as you can,” Kade said.

Gerry Martin’s been impressed by the attitude and work habits of the three initial Rangatahi Rangers.

“We’re lucky to have had a great group of young people in our first intake who were keen and eager to learn, and such a hardworking and pleasant team to work with.”

The first group of Rangatahi Rangers were given a six-month extension to their contracts to assist in track maintenance caused by cyclone Gabrielle, while the second group of Rangatahi Rangers who started in February this year are underway on their training and work experience. 

Cory Farrell, Isabell Fawcett and Nicho Golaboski recently completed a basic First Aid course, learned about pest trapping, GPS and radio, and will soon cover 4WD driving and basic chainsaw use. They’ve also been trapping in the Otama forest, completed track maintenance and helped at the Waikawau Campground.

Gerry will be starting to progress the third intake of Rangatahi Rangers shortly and young people interested in the opportunity can email for more information.

DOC’s Whitianga Operations Manager, Nick Kelly said the Rangatahi Rangers programme takes a holistic approach to the wellbeing and personal and professional development of each person selected.

“There’s also the opportunity to work in some of New Zealand’s most iconic and picturesque locations,” he said.

Gerry said DOC planned to run the programme for three years, so up to 24 young people will be able to access this great opportunity.