So You Want To Be A Ranger?

by Helen Cordery

Have you been thinking about becoming a ranger in New Zealand but still have some niggling questions? Meet Eve MacKenzie, 26, our newest intern on the path to becoming a ranger to see what kind of things she gets up to during the week. Warning: if you aren’t a bird lover, then this is NOT for you!

The Back Story

Eve, originally from Dunedin, was raised in Wellington and is a qualified vet nurse. Her background in Otago gave her plenty of experiences to get up close to New Zealand wildlife, and she eventually ended up at Victoria University studying a Bachelor of Science (Biology).

Day of a Ranger

For the first four months, Eve is working with our Bush Birds. She joins ranger Deja in the aviaries with hihi, kākā, kākāriki and korimako, preparing their food, pruning trees in the aviaries, weighing the birds, and keeping up with general maintenance.

After that, she will spend another four months in our South End area with Ali and Mireille. She will get to work closely on our successful tūturuatu (shore plover), whio and pāteke breeding programmes (have a read of this article to find out more).

She will end her internship with ranger Jess and the kiwi, getting involved with our work as part of Operation Nest Egg. She will be feeding the kiwi, weighing them and helping to administer their health checks.

“I’m also really excited to get involved with predator control where I can. I did a lot of rabbit shooting down in Otago and I’ve seen first-hand the effects of rabbits on the land and upon our native skinks.”

The Highlights

Hearing Rangi the kākā growl when she came to close to the fledgelings is something Eve won’t forget in a hurry, but she knew what to do and kept her cool. But a real highlight so far would have to be meeting our resident kōkako, Kahurangi.

“It was amazing to meet Kahu. My first day I went over early with Deja to give her her breakfast. As we got closer we could hear her wolf whistling and saying ‘kōkako’. She came right over, I will never forget that”.

Eve’s favourite residents so far are the kākāriki, also known as parakeets. Pūkaha is home to the red-crowned, yellow-crowned and orange-fronted species.

“I really love them, they are just so inquisitive and curious. I actually didn’t expect that!”

It’s not just been about the birds, however.

“Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly, and I feel so much better out of the city. I am staying with the other volunteers in the Volunteer House and they’re such a good group. Even though I’m busy here, I feel so much calmer and every morning I wake up and hear the wild kākā, so I’m always on the lookout for what I might see. I get to hear grey warblers every day!”

What’s Next?

At the end of the 12 months, Eve feels confident that she would like to find work as a ranger somewhere in New Zealand.

“My goal is to be a ranger working with New Zealand wildlife, ideally on a captive breeding programme because I want to do my bit to increase our native bird populations. It would be amazing to work with kākāpō one day”.

If you are interested in following in Eve’s footsteps but are unsure if it’s for you, get in touch with Kerri at volunteer@pukaha.org.nz to see what our current volunteering options are. We accept volunteers all year-round and across all aspects of Pūkaha.