In 2002, Michelle travelled from Canada to visit her brother and his family, fell for the place and decided to stay. A keen outdoors woman, she has spent countless hours exploring the country via bike, kayak and on foot, running and hiking. The fact that her job with The Kiwi Trust takes her to out-of-the-way places, well off the typical tourist trail, is a wonderful bonus and privilege. It also gives her a seat on the Kiwi Recovery Group.
Michelle’s background is in marketing and business, vital skills for increasing awareness, education and funding for kiwi. Michelle enjoys the fact that her job is focused solely on the day-to-day running of the Trust. “That requires an empathy for the cause and a deep belief in what I’m doing – and I contribute by making sure the business runs well. There are thousands of conservationists out there doing the work on the ground, and I’ll leave them to do what they do best. My job is to ensure they are supported with funds, tools, resources and the knowledge they need.
“I’ve got the perfect job – able to use my business skills and training but with a very gratifying outcome – helping to save an endangered species. It’s my goal to have four million aware Kiwis who care about their national bird’s plight.”
Connecting with the amazing, dedicated and committed people working in community groups and the Department of Conservation is a particular high point of her job.
“I love being able to support the work they are doing. No-one is in the business of saving kiwi to get rich, and I’m constantly amazed at the amount of personal time and money people put into this cause. I love getting out of the office to meet with these people; it’s a great reality check on what this is all about.”
The hardest part of Michelle’s role is the enormity of the task and the realization that this work will have to continue in some form for a very long time. ‘At the moment, if we let up, reinvasion of predators begins, the forests start to deteriorate and we lose more of our precious species, including kiwi.
“While it may change in the future as new techniques and technologies become available, at the moment we can’t relax.”
Thoughts for the Future
Michelle says saving kiwi is going to continue to be a collaborative effort nationwide. “No one person, agency, government department, funder or community can possibly achieve this on their own. We are making great progress, but need to do more and do it smarter with better technology and tools. And we need the help, engagement and support of all Kiwis.”