The deaths of two outstanding DOC conservation workers in yesterday’s tragic helicopter crash reminds us that many public servants literally put their lives on the line to serve their country.
Paul Hondelink and Scott Theobald’s dedication to restoring our precious native species leaves a legacy that will endure for generations. Both were pioneers of new and improved techniques in predator pest eradication, including animal density surveys and the use of trained control dogs.
They worked in tough, lonely environments through their combined 87 years of service, enduring long periods away from friends and family.
We also remember the pilot, Nick Wallis, a dedicated conservationist and hugely respected community figure who worked with DOC over many years to restore native species in the spectacular southern region that was his home.
Paul, Scott and Nick embodied our spirit of service – a commitment to making our country and its communities better. We often take for granted the dedicated work of front-line public servants in DOC and other agencies. Tragedies like this bring home the reality that, despite the best precautions, the work of many public servants exposes them to personal risk.
All public servants, and especially our colleagues in DOC, will be feeling this tragedy deeply in the days and weeks ahead. I offer my absolute support and commitment to you, and I know that others across the Public Service will do the same.
We should take the time to reflect on and celebrate Paul, Scott and Nick’s lives and achievements. We can be immensely proud of them. They will be remembered for their world-leading conservation work and their love and commitment to their families, their communities, and New Zealand.