A natural fit: ZEALANDIA gets a helping hand from Greater Wellington Regional Council

June 27, 2018

Being outdoors and working in nature is what Callum Shaw loves, so his role as an apprentice ranger at Wellington’s ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary is a dream job.

Callum, pictured above, volunteered at ZEALANDIA while he was studying ecology at Victoria University, and when an apprentice ranger position came up after he graduated, he was the top choice.

As part of his role, Callum needed to complete a hands-on qualification, and he and his boss Adam Groenewegen decided the Skills Active National Certificate in Park Ranger (Level 3) was the right fit.

“The qualification is very broad and it tests a lot of different things, so piecing it all together was tough at times,” Callum says. “There was the overall organisation of what I would need to do for each unit standard – each one had a what, where, how and a who. And then it was a matter of finding the time to do all of that.”

It took time, but Callum managed to juggle all the different requirements of the qualification, along with his regular work, and he completed his training in mid-2018. His biggest supporter was his boss, Adam, and his Skills Active learning support advisor Andrea Bramley also helped him to navigate the industry training process.

The sanctuary didn’t have anyone on staff who was able to assess the Park Ranger qualification, so when it came time for Callum’s assessments, Steve Edwards from Greater Wellington Regional Council was able to come over and help out. Steve is the park ranger for Kaitoke Regional Park.

Steve came to ZEALANDIA twice to observe and assess Callum’s progress as a ranger.

“It was not about staged things, but things he would actually do in his daily work routine,” says Steve. “So I went on a guided walk with him where he took members of the public around ZEALANDIA, and I assessed him on his knowledge of the history of the sanctuary, the development, and the plants and animals.”

Steve also looked at Callum’s ability to talk to an audience, his technical knowledge, health and safety, use and maintenance of tools and gear, and much more. “As part of the assessment we would sit down and have a bit of a chat about it, and I would give him some pointers so that he could do a review of what he could improve on.”

Steve says it was a pleasure to be able to support a trainee ranger getting started in the world of conservation.

“I have been in my role for 20 years, and it’s great to be able to put something back into the industry and to mentor others. It’s really satisfying to see younger people that are passionate about the work we’re doing in conservation.”

Steve said his organisation has a lot in common with ZEALANDIA, in terms of their shared mission.

“We are both helping to showcase the natural environment that we have around Wellington, and providing access for the public to get close to some of the really unique plants and animals that are found here in New Zealand and nowhere else on earth.

“It’s also good to go and see another operation and have a look at how they are doing things. You can get very focused on the area you’re passionate about, so it’s good to see other areas and come back with ideas of how you might do things differently, and vice versa – you are sharing and exchanging knowledge.”



Photo credit: ZEALANDIA.