DOC is celebrating its 30th birthday this month. On 1 April 1987 DOC was born from the merger of the conservation aspects of the Forest Service, the Department of Lands and Survey and the Wildlife Service.
The Kapiti Wellington DOC office will celebrate with a birthday tramp to Rangituhi/Colonial Knob, one of the team’s favourite reserves and an afternoon tea with staff, friends and local communities. There will be a trip down memory lane to remember the shared history and achievements from 30 years of active conservation.
Mark Tito has been a ranger with DOC since it was formed
Operations Manager Jack Mace says, “Our office boasts staff who have been with DOC from day one and those who are on their first day. Each of us share the goal of protecting our wildlife and wild places for future generations.”
Mark Tito, a ranger with DOC and its forerunner the Department of Lands and Survey for 34 years, says, “A lot has changed, but I’m still here because I love it – I love working outdoors.
“Back in the day, I was a builder – I built all the bridges and the boardwalks in the area. I have been maintaining those ever since – and we are even replacing some now. I have outlived my own building projects.”
There are several key milestones that stand out for DOC in the Kapiti Wellington district over the last 30 years. In particular:
- eradicating possums from Kapiti Island in 1986 and rats in 1996. Kōkako were reintroduced in between 1991 and 1997, making them the first wild population in the lower North Island
- declaring Mana Island rodent free in 1992 – the largest island to be cleared of mice in the world at the time. Since then the island had been replanted with tens of thousands of trees by Friends of Mana Island, and received Duvaucel geckos, green geckos and spotted skinks in 1998. With the support of Ngati Toa, Mana Island now boasts 11 species of lizards
- setting up Kapiti Marine Reserve in 1992, the fourth marine reserve ever established in New Zealand. Sited at the meeting of two major sea currents, the reserve’s marine life is fascinating and diverse, and includes carpets of scarlet jewel anemone. The reserve creates a unique corridor of protection between the island nature reserve and the scientific reserve at the Waikanae river mouth
- opening Matiu Somes Island to the public in 1995 and returning Matiu Somes and other harbour islands to Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko te Ika in 2009
- purchasing Whareroa Farm in 2005 as a recreation Mecca – now visited by walkers, runners, mountain bikers, horse riders and cared for by Whareroa Guardians Community Trust, one of the region’s most active volunteer groups
- supporting Rimutaka Forest Park Trust to return North Island brown kiwi to the Rimutaka Ranges in 2006
- establishing and working with local people to protect Taputeranga Marine Reserve on Wellington’s South coast since 2008
- working closely, over 30 years, with many of the region’s volunteer groups including Forest & Bird Lower Hutt Branch who revegetated Matiu Somes Island and care for the significant estuarine salt marsh habitat of Pauatahanui wildlife reserve.
DOC Kapiti Wellington team
Nationally over the last 30 years, an area three times the size of Stewart Island has been added to the national conservation estate as well as more than 40 marine reserves.
There have been vast improvements in recreation management and the establishment of the Great Walks as popular outdoor experiences. Pest control methodology that allows landscape scale predator control and better management of threatened species has reduced the level of threat for many species and has brought back some species from the brink of extinction.
Background: By the numbers
The Department of Conservation is responsible for managing 8.5 million hectares of public land (approximately 30% of New Zealand’s landmass) and 44 marine reserves.
DOC manages over 14,000 km of tracks and more than 950 huts. These places are used by 48% of New Zealanders (approximately 1.6 million people) and approximately 30% of overseas visitors (and many more view the iconic scenery from a distance).