Five minutes with our conservation manager

No two days are the same for Robin Gerding, Wairakei Estate's busy Conservation Manager. Here she shares her passion for the natural world.

I began working at Wairakei Estate six years ago. I started out as a contractor for the Asset Maintenance Team, and gradually as my knowledge grew I started doing more and more. This eventually led to more of a focus on soil conservation, and now to my current role.

I’ve loved science ever since I was young. I have a real appreciation for the natural world. I always knew I wanted to do something in the environmental space, I just wasn’t sure what that would look like. This morphed into a real passion for conservation as I fell in love with the unique environment here in New Zealand. So I decided to go back to school and finish my study so I could dive headfirst into my passion.

A typical day can be anything. It ranges from answering emails to throwing on a set of waders to assess our streams. I also spend a lot of time in our SNAs [significant natural areas] to look for unique species and collect seeds for our riparian and wetland planting, or I can be out clearing traps or looking for new sites.

It’s tough to choose a favourite area of Wairakei! The Waipari Stream might be my favourite. It’s a little hidden gem within the Estate and you can’t help but be in awe when you stand next to a carex that is taller than you!

I’m really proud of the Pueto stream project. We are undertaking this in collaboration with local iwi. We’ll enhance the existing fish access pathways to give the local community great access to the stream and the Waikato River, while also improving the ecological integrity of the area.

My favourite part about working at Wairakei Estate is the journey that we’re on and the support that we get along that journey to manage the land, which naturally, is always changing.

My goal for the future of Wairakei is to have thriving and resilient conservation areas that in turn will support thriving and resilient communities.

If you’re considering getting involved in conservation management, I would say go for it! Like anything else, it can be hard work but very rewarding. It all starts with a passion, so if you have it and you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves, then absolutely go for it.

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