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Following a childhood passion has led Craig Montgomerie right to his dream job. The 37 year old has just secured a position with the Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, where he cares for endangered native species like kiwi, kaka, tieke, mohoeanui weta, hihi, and tuatara.
“At primary school I loved birds, I always had the bird books,” says Craig. “But somewhere between being a primary school kid and a teenager I forgot about what I really enjoyed.”
In signing up for the Diploma in Environmental Management, and carrying on to do the Bachelor of Science, Craig took the first step toward doing what he’d always wanted. After three years of full-time study – and just one day after sitting his final exam – he got the call from Sanctuary Mountain.
“I was only unemployed for one day!”
Craig attributes his success to the practical, hands-on nature of his study with Toi Ohomai (including plenty of field work), a supportive wife and hours of volunteer work.
“The volunteer work I did with the Otanewainuku Trust plus the degree is what secured me this job. You can tell someone how to do a kiwi survey, but to actually go out there and do it is when you really understand.”
Now, Craig spends his work days doing ranger work like monitoring Sanctuary Mountain’s 47 kilometres of predator proof fence, monitoring various unique New Zealand species and giving guided tours.
“Visitors get the opportunity to see a tuatara without a layer of glass between them and the animal, or they may get the opportunity to watch a kiwi being given a health check. We’ve also recently had a new takahe chick hatch which the public will be able to view when the parents are ready.”
“When guiding people onto the maunga I really enjoy the level of fascination they exude. Some customers aren’t aware or may not know much about our native bush and you can see the ‘this is amazing’ look in their eyes.”
“Sanctuary Mountain is like a treasure chest – to have this massive assemblage of flora and fauna species in the middle of the North Island where people can come and see these birds – to protect them, and show people – to be part of that is pretty cool.”
“I’m just so fortunate to have this job; it ticks all my boxes.”