Photograph: Murdo MacLeod / The Guardian
A NZ $ 90,000 salary, a helicopter commute, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site as your playground. It looks like a dream job. But despite the notable benefits, the New Zealand Department of Conservation has struggled to attract candidates to become their new biodiversity supervisor in Haast, on the wild and remote coast of the South Island. Now, research in the region is going global. .
The work is based in Te Wāhipounamu, an area encompassing 26,000 square kilometers of mountain ranges, secluded beaches and indigenous forests, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Area in 1990. Its mountain ranges served as a backdrop to the White Mountains / Ered Nimrais in the Peter Jackson building adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
The successful candidate will be put to work protecting the recently discovered populations of the Haast tokoeka kiwifruit, as well as keeping an eye on local seal and lizard populations, controlling predators and monitoring local songbirds. They will work in remote and rugged areas, many of which are only accessible by helicopter or jetboat.
The job posting calls the region an “extremely special place to live, surrounded by mountains and ocean, with endless activities for an outdoor enthusiast” and a salary range of NZ $ 72,610 – $ 92,780. On Monday, however, the New Zealand Herald reported that the department’s request for candidates had not sparked significant interest, with only three people investigating so far.
Wayne Costello, operations manager for DOC in South Westland, said the job was right for people who enjoy spending time in nature and feel comfortable with some degree of isolation.
“It works in one of the most amazing natural environments the country has to offer,” he told Stuff. “It is simply spectacular. But it’s not for everyone. You should be self-sufficient and be able to work outdoors. If you are interested in opera and theater, it probably isn’t for you.
The Department of Conservation isn’t alone in striving to lure workers into the area’s rugged beauty. This month, the West Coast Regional Development Agency released a new campaign announcing that it was “looking for new ‘coasters’ globally.”
“We are looking for people who are tired of the crowds, cars and publicity of the city, and would prefer a little more space,” Development West Coast CEO Heath Milne said in a statement.
Many West Coast businesses and organizations were asking for staff, Milne said, and the region specifically hoped to attract health workers, with 50 vacancies in aged care, primary care, emergency room, mental health and hospital services. Across New Zealand, many sectors have reported chronic labor and skills shortages as more New Zealanders head overseas after the pandemic and immigration gradually recovers. The SEEK job posting site has seen a 27% increase in West Coast job postings over the past year.
“The coast is a special place that attracts a special kind of person,” said Milne. “We are looking for more of them.”