Careers in conservation & the environment

Volunteer field assistants – Department of Conservation – Chatham Islands

Website Department of Conservation

The Chatham Islands DOC office has opportunities for volunteer field assistants to participate in threatened species management work undertaken on the remote outer islands, Mangere and Rangatira (South East Island).

The islands lie 800km east of New Zealand and reveal a rich diversity of endemic flora and fauna. Pest-free nature reserve islands Mangere and Rangatira (South East Island) are home to a rich array of unique species.

The fauna work will include monitoring populations of New Zealand shore plover, Chatham petrel, black robin and Forbes’ parakeet.

Flora work may include threatened plant surveys, weed control, seed collection, track clearance and other flora-related work.

Field assistants will also assist with biosecurity tasks and maintenance of island facilities and tracks.

What to expect
Participants should be prepared to work hard in a remote and demanding environment and live in basic but adequate communal hut conditions.

In return the programme offers participants the opportunity to contribute to and further develop technical and conceptual skills in threatened species management.

Important skills
In addition to having suitable bird monitoring experience for the trips, participants should have:

  • accurate recording skills,
  • a moderate to high standard of fitness,
  • an ability to work in all weathers,
  • experience working in remote locations;
  • a high level of motivation;
  • an ability to work and live in a close team situation
  • an ability to work independently;
  • have enough agility to make boat bow landings and departures from rocky platforms;
  • the ability to make 1-2 hour boat trips in fishing vessel in rough seas

Costs and employment conditions
The Chatham Island District Office will cover the cost of air travel to and from the Chatham Islands from Wellington and will provide food and accommodation while in the Chatham Islands.

Field assistants will be expected to work a six-day (8-10 hour day) working week with a combination of up to 8 hours in the field and 2 hours data entry. There will be provision for at least one complete day off a week or 2 half days when suitable. Longer trips will have a less demanding workload than the shorter ones.

Volunteers will mainly be based on the off-shore islands of Mangere and Rangatira with a Department of Conservation ranger who will lead and supervise the work. The work environment is isolated, and the terrain can be rugged. At times volunteers will be required to work alone in wet and cold weather, over steep, muddy, rocky and exposed terrain.

Communication with New Zealand while on the islands is limited to emergency satellite phone calls. A VHF radio provides daily contact with the DOC office in Te One, on Chatham Island. PLB’s are carried for emergency use.

Transport on and off the Chatham islands from the mainland as well as to the outer islands is very weather dependent and travel plans can be delayed for several days. Local fishing charter vessels are used for transport and landing on the islands is done directly from the boat to the rock platform. Volunteers will need to be flexible and make the best use of their time in the different locations.

After health and safety, biosecurity is our highest priority and team members will be subject to strict quarantine processes.

Selection process
Steps in the application process

  1. Submit the application form before 17th July 2020
  2. Suitable candidates will be asked for a telephone interview
  3. Other applicants may be asked if they are willing to be on ‘standby’
  4. Once the interview is done there will be referee checks
  5. Those candidates that are selected will then need to complete an online medical questionnaire assessed by the DOC-appointed medical professional, Dr Mark Floyd
  6. Successful applicants will be sent pre-trip booking information, be asked to complete a personal details form and then travel arrangements will be made.

How to apply
Download one of the forms below and send to the Chatham Islands Office.


Trip 1 – Rangatira (11th to 28th September 2020)
Black robin banding; shore plover census
3-4 positions

Trip 2 – Mangere (23rd September to 12th October 2020)
Forbes’ parakeet distance sampling; shore plover census
2 positions

Trip 3 – Mangere (23rd October to 6th November 2020)
Black robin census; Forbes’ parakeet hybrid scoring
2 positions

Trip 4 – Rangatira (23rd October – 16th November 2020)
Black robin census; Chatham petrel burrow opening; shore plover work
3 positions

Trip 5 – Rangatira and Mangere (18th January to 5th February 2021)
Shore plover banding and census; Chatham petrel roll call; threatened plant monitoring
4 positions

Trip 6 – Mangere (15th to 29th March 2021)
Black robin census and banding
2 positions

Trip 7 – Rangatira (15th March to 16th April 2021)
Black robin census and banding; Chatham petrel monitoring and banding
4 positions

Applications close 17 July 2020

Rekohu / Wharekauri / Chatham Island Office
Phone:  +64 3 305 0098
Address:  North Rd, Te One, Chatham Island


To apply for this job email your details to