Caretaker wanted: must enjoy stunning scenery

BY FRITHA TAGG
Last updated 11:31 27/01/2010
Durville
FRITHA TAGG

Pristine: Moawhitu, part of the DOC reserve at Greville Harbour, from the air.

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Situation vacant. The Department of Conservation is looking for a caretaker and hut warden for its reserve at Moawhitu (Greville Harbour, d'Urville Island). Could this be the best job ever? There's no pay but the free house, amazing scenery and lifestyle might make up for that.

Retired couple Brenda Hatwell and Bernie Coggan, have looked after the property for the last three years but have moved on to their next adventure, so Department of Conservation is looking for the "right" person to take on this role.

Picton-based DOC community relations programme manager Robin Cox said the role is a mix of caretaking and handyman work along with hut warden duties at the large four-bedroom house at Greville Harbour above the freshwater lake.

"Ideally we would like someone who is sympathetic to conservation, a handy person – to keep the place going, with the ability to get on with people. Possibly a retired person or a couple."

The department would like more public to use the accommodation which has good, solid facilities, sharing the house with the caretaker.

The island, which DOC says is the eighth largest in New Zealand, is steeped in history and has good fishing and hunting – deer and pigs mainly. In 2006 DOC increased its interest in the island when it purchased a further 1764 hectares taking its land ownership to 5885ha. The island is 16,400ha.

Much of it had been developed and then farmed by the Leov family and later owned by the Robinson and Nurse families. The land will now be encouraged to revert to native bush adding to d'Urville Island Reserve.

A legal requirement of the land purchase is DOC must maintain the airstrip for the use of adjoining landowners. To keep the airstrip in good order means no vehicles on the strip at all – planes only – to protect both the airstrip and adjacent sand dunes.

"We need to keep the grass alongside the strip low so planes can land, and taxi off the runway and park safely," said Mr Cox.

The airstrip was built many years ago and upgraded by Picton man Chris Brown when he built his bach on the beach edge in the 1980s. It is used free of charge by adjoining land owners while other planes can land and use the strip for a small fee.

"We envisage a caretaker who will be happy to share the house with visitors. There is already a camping ground here which is not used very much – it is quite exposed so to have this house as a base where trampers or hunters can come and use would be even better," said Mr Cox.

In the interim Chris Brown has taken on a short-term caretaking role. His first priority is to get the airstrip safe and fully useable.

Mr Brown is an ex-d'Urville island resident and pilot, his extensive aviation knowledge means he understands the requirements and the workings of a good, safe airstrip. He'll ensure the airstrip is even safer for small planes.

"Once we get the strip up to a good standard again and people know it is a safe and accommodating area with the improved accommodation this will result in more people being able to appreciate the unique environment at d'Urville Island."

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