Volunteer Voice

The time and effort generously donated by volunteers is undoubtably the backbone of SIRCET's work. Thanks to all those whose help, in so many ways, makes the projects undertaken so successful. Here are a selection of stories from these volunteers about their involvment with SIRCET's work and what it means.

Cath Jenkins - "Bringing things back"


Not long after arriving Dale informed me that "we" had volunteered to help with a bird capture and release from Ulva Island . I decided that if I was going to make the most of my time on the island I had to get involved and get a little out of my comfort zone. I had seen a documentary on Ulva Island and had spent one day exploring the bush but was I in for an eye opener.


We were going to catch a number of brown creeper and rifleman (I didn't know these birds existed let alone what they looked liked) to release onto Rakiura. We had recordings of the bird's songs and very fine nets that we had to deploy in the path of the birds once we located them in the bush. Our team of volunteers soon had things working smoothly. Once we found a likely spot we would scamper around until we had the nets set up in the birds likely flight path.

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Daniel Roecken - "Hardcore rat trapper" 


I'm from Germany and I arrived in New Zealand in 2007. I'm presently applying for permanent residency. Of course I didn't know anyone when I arrived. When I saw the SIRCET notice on the town notice board advertising a trap-making day I thought that this would be a good way to meet people. It would be a way of getting to know others and for them to accept me.

Of course I was sympathetic to the SIRCET goals. Everyone can do something. Everyone should do something. If everyone does a little bit then together we will have a big impact. This idea applies to habitat restoration as much as it does to energy conservation. Trapping rats or changing to energy efficient light bulbs.

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Karen Bowman"Finding footprints"


I wouldn't even consider doing my lines as work or a task - it's pretty enjoyable. Well it's because I have the loving support of my partner (he wanted me to say that), I'm controlling pests at the same time as I'm enjoying the company of tomtits and fantails, and looking out into the beautiful scenery of the inlet.

When I've been trapping I have never been sure if I should be delighted or annoyed if I haven't caught rats. I've always wondered - are there none around, or are they just not going into the traps? Having said that, I don't have the expectation that we are going to get all of the rats, but it would be nice to know that we are keeping on top of them.

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Peter and Iris Tait - "Eco-tourism and contributing"

Peter and Iris Tait of Sails Ashore, and their daughter Ann at Kowhai Lane were foundation members of SIRCET; their continuing contributions have allowed SIRCET to grow from the initial planning stages to the strong community organisation it is today.

We are presenting Stewart Island to our guests and we "live" the promotion of the island's environment - trying to make their experience a memorable one and one which will allow them to also treasure the place. Information about SIRCET is part of our presentation to them. We are happy to advocate the project at various levels. Visitors are always taken with the "idea" of SIRCET and the Island Community looking after and bettering itself. Visitors from Europe frequently comment that we Islanders haven't lost the passion to get together as a community and they regret the loss of community spirit back home.

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Greer Evans - "Work experiences"

greer_evans.jpgI'd been here for a couple of months, since I left school in term two. I didn't know what I was going to do for a job or anything, but I knew I needed a break from my life in Christchurch, so I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. 

I soon found out that Kate had organised "some valuable life experiences", work experience and a chance to get myself organised. Nothing had prepared me for what I had to do. I had only had school based work experience days where I had worked in a shop. It's funny when I look back at how much of a city girl I was though. It took me a few days to realise that putting on make-up was a complete waste of time if I was going to be working in the bush in the rain. And I needed to take food for the day if I was going to be out in the field because there was no shop nearby. And wearing sensible all weather clothes. Working in the field is no place for fashion. I can laugh about it now.

I really appreciated working down here. I think other kids should do it. All I know is that I am grateful to Kate and Brett for wanting to help me, and for the DoC and SIRCET people going out of their way to let me learn and have the experiences of a lifetime.


Margaret Hopkins - "Weeds warrior"

margaret_hopkins.jpgI guess I do get "fired up" over weeds. I hate it when I see them on paths or track lines. My reaction is so strong because I feel they are out of place and they have escaped from somewhere - from a garden somewhere, maybe even my own. There are some plants that are simply incongruous in our setting here. They don't sit easily with what we've got and what we are trying to achieve and maintain on the island. 

The thing I recommend is for all of our volunteers to take a "gardeners approach" when they see weeds when they are out on their lines. If it's only going to take a few minutes to pull or dig out a weed then they should take the time to get rid of it.

If we work diligently in and around the project area we have the best chance to control the many weeds here. If we rest on our laurels for even a moment then the weeds will be back with a vengeance, and there will be more of them.



A big thanks to Bevan Mudie for capturing these stories.