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City park rangers go on the beat

Wednesday, June 20, 2018   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: environment, services, diversity

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 18th June 2018

Christchurch now has its own central city park rangers acting as caretakers for the area's wildlife and people.

Brian Appleton and Keely Gwatkin are Christchurch City Council Park Rangers who have recently been given responsibility for the city centre as well as some heritage parks.

CCouncil Park Rangers Brian Appleton and Keely Gwatkin will be keeping a watchful eye on the central city.Keely has a background in ecology, and says people may not realise how much interesting wildlife lives in and around the Avon River in the centre of town.

Their new patch includes the Avon River Precinct, stretching from the Antigua Boat sheds and the Bridge of Remembrance through to Victoria Square and the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, as well as the Botanic Gardens and Mona Vale.

She enjoys keeping a watchful eye over the enormous eels living in the Avon River, the pied shags that feed in the area, and native scaup ducks. She hopes that as native vegetation increases, native birds such as kereru and bellbirds will also start moving along the river corridor and venture into the city area in growing numbers.

During whitebait season she will also be on the look-out for people putting out nets in the Avon River between the Armagh St Bridge and the Barbadoes St Bridge where a bylaw prevents all fishing.

The area has many important cultural and historic sites - including the CTV site, the Fire Fighters Reserve, and Victoria Square, so it’s a privilege to take on this caretaker role in the heart of the city, Keely says.

Interacting with people is part of the job. “We’re the face of the Council within this area. If I’m doing my rounds and see someone looking lost or confused then I’ll step in and offer them some assistance It’s an advocacy role on behalf of the Council and for wildlife within the central city." 

There are occasionally issues with freedom campers in the city or minor incidents at the Margaret Mahy playground which a Park Ranger can be called in to help with. Keely and Brian support the maintenance teams within the Avon River Precinct and will let them know if an area needs special attention.

Council Heritage Gardens and City Centre Team Leader Nicky Brown says the city rangers are ambassadors for the Council and contact with people visiting and working in the central city is very important.

“We are really lucky to have two people with a lot of passion for their work in these roles. Brian and Keely are very interested in the local environment and biodiversity and they’re also very friendly, positive people.

“Having city rangers working in the Avon River Precinct will become increasingly important as the rebuild continues and the inner city becomes even busier," Ms Brown says.

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch