Putting in the mahi on Whenua Hou

"After spotting a sea lion and even hoiho, we spent the afternoon pulling the generator apart" 

Not a line you'd expect from our engineers, but this was the reality when they went to Whenua Hou earlier this year, as part of our work as National Partner of the Kākākpō Recovery Programme.  

The predator-free island near Rakauri (Stewart Island) is great for kākāpō, but its remote location adds an extra challenge when it comes to keeping the power running smoothly (and let us tell you, the hard-working rangers sure deserve a hot shower every now and then!) So, one way we support the programme is by sending our engineers out regularly to maintain the electrical infrastructure on the island. 

Sea lion on the beach

Before they head out, the team got a great insight into the important process of quarantining gear and clothing before being allowed on the island. It was quite a process to get all their tools, equipment and parts through quarantine, but it’s considered well worth it to keep the native species that inhabit the island safe. It was all in a day’s work as part of our partnership, our engineers support the maintenance and remedial work of the electrical systems on the island. 

Meridian engineers by a DOC hut

Our engineers support the maintenance and remedial work of the electrical systems on the island. 

People boarding helicopter

After every last screw was inspected and every single sock was turned inside out to check for any rogue seeds or pest threats (and then a brief set-back due to weather) our engineers Joe and Mark jumped in the helicopter to the island, ready to get to a jobsite with a view!

“With a couple of jobs under our belt, we took the opportunity to experience some of the wildlife on the island…” 

Our engineers Joe and Mark had the special opportunity to meet the manu in question! Mark is pictured holding a VIP (very important parrot!) for the rangers during a routine health check. Margaret-Maree is a founding female of the 247 strong population of kākāpō. She was found on Rakiura/Stewart Island in 1985 and is at least 45 years old. 

“It was a privilege to see my colleague experience holding a taonga. I was able to reflect on the time I had the opportunity with another kākāpō, Titapu, in a previous trip”. 

A bit different to what you’d find 70 meters up a wind turbine or at a Hydro Station, but all in a day’s work at Meridian. 

“We shared the heli ride back to the mainland with two hoiho!” 

After 4 days spent on the remote Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, Joe and Mark were about to get an even closer encounter. Some hoiho (yellow-eyed penguins) on the island were in need of rehabilitation so the DOC rangers escort them back. Joe and Mark had the surreal experience of being sat next to them for the journey. An unexpected end to their work pulling apart generators and fitting indicator lights! 

Meridian engineers in a helicopter

This kind of work is absolutely vital to our program's success and it's a real win-win for everyone involved. Here at Meridian, we're excited to lend our engineering know-how to DOC, and it’s a great chance for our incredible engineers to stretch their skills in new directions. And let’s be honest, getting to spend time with kākāpō is an awesome extra treat!

Kākākpō in the wild

Photo credit: Jake Osborne – DOC Ranger