Spotlight on Rotoroa ranger Maud Tissink

Maud Tissink is Rotoroa's summer ranger. It's her role to help inform visitors about the importance of biosecurity on Rotoroa.

Maud is a tertiary student working towards a BSc in Ecology from The University of Auckland, but this summer, she's getting some practical experience of conservation; talking to boaties about biosecurity, tracking birds, assisting with volunteer days and lending the island's conservation team a hand wherever needed.

"A large proportion of my work around the island consists of biosecurity," says Maud. "It's essential to preserve the longer term success of the island's pest eradication from last winter."

For Maud, this involves checking the bags and gear of ferry passengers, informing boaties about biosecurity risks and maintaining the island's traps and bait stations.

"People are generally under the impression that we look for just rodents, but it's also the discrete stowaways that we worry about - things like exotic ants and skinks."

For Maud, who came to New Zealand with her family from the Netherlands seven years ago, conservation and wildlife are passions she formed as a child.

"I've been interested in conservation since I watched a documentary about the reintroduction of the grey wolf into Yellowstone National Park when I was about seven years old.  The way in which this simple reintroduction led to drastic changes in the park's landscape made a lasting positive impression on me."

New Zealand is quite a contrast to her European home. "My family moved here for the sake of the lifestyle when I was 11 years old," says Maud. "It's much more spacious here; in the Netherlands, 16 million people inhabit an area slightly smaller than Canterbury. Unlike what a Kiwi might imagine, this number of people does fit into such an area quite comfortably, but there is no space to spare for nature. Even as a child I was bothered by the absence of a natural environment."

Maud's time on the island is serving her well for her studies and future in conservation. "Assisting the island's ecologist Jo Ritchie, contributes greatly to my own learning. It's fantastic to be involved with such an amazing project."

"Maud has been great to have on the island over summer," says Jo. "She is genuinely interested in what we are doing, has attention to detail which is really important when you are examining monitoring devices to look for what are often small and subtle signs of whether pest animals are present or not.

"Young people with enquiring and objective minds who have a passion for the environment are the future of conservation in New Zealand - Go Maud!"

On the island and have a question? Look out for Maud; she'll be happy to stop and chat.

Posted by Angela Bishop on January 28, 2014