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By Todd Ward
HE’S had guns aimed at him, punches thrown
and his life threatened.
But nothing has been able to stop Te Kuiti De-
partment of Conservation ranger Doug Taucher
from guarding New Zealand’s natural beauty.
After a lifetime spent protecting our bush,
forests and rivers from pests and poachers, he is
finally calling it a day.
On Monday, the 59-year-old from Otorohanga
will officially retire from DOC – exactly 43 years
after joining the New Zealand Forest Service in
1974. When it became part of DOC in 1987, so
did Mr Taucher.
He has no regrets and takes great pride in
what he’s achieved – from humble beginnings
spotlighting pests in East Coast forest blocks – to
playing a major role in re-establishing a threat-
ened bird species.
Born and raised in Otaki, the young forest
ranger first arrived in Otorohanga in 1982,
managing goat hunting operations in the North
Along with pest control, he’s been at the
forefront of many other conservation roles with
DOC including fire control, fencing, freshwater
fish and marine monitoring, but most notably
It’s dangerous, but necessary work says Mr
Taucher, to protect what he calls “paradise”.
“To this day, law enforcement is one of the
favourite things I’ve ever done – like preventing
poaching and other illegal activities – because I
hate people ripping the place off,” he says.
“I remember one time five of us were travelling
up the Waikato River and we spotted a whitebait
net with no-one around it.
“We asked a guy across the river if it was his
and he said ‘no’ so we said we were going to take
it because it was set illegally.
“Well, he went off the deep end and soon after
a punch came flying, but luckily one of the other
guys put his arm up and blocked it.
“ Then he reeled off some death threats, threat-
ening to kill us all and it got to the point where we
almost had to call the police, because he seemed
pretty genuine about it.”
Another time, an inexperienced Mr Taucher
was tracking poachers in the Kaimai Ranges
when he learned a valuable lesson.
“We were escorting one of the guys out, who
had a rifle, and he was following me.
“ That’s when I heard the click of a bolt being
“I soon backed off to get in behind him.
“So it taught me that you always have to have
your guard up and be completely aware of what’s
happening at all times.”
SAVING THE KOKAKO
Away from the crosshairs of being a DOC land
guardian, Mr Taucher also did his part preserving
and nurturing the North King Country region’s
precious resources, as well as volunteering his
time with Land Search and Rescue and NZ
For his commitment, he received a LandSAR
Excellence Award in 2014 for outstanding con-
tribution to Search and Rescue over a period of
more than 20 years.
His main highlight though was working to
protect and re-establish the threatened kokako
population in Mapara.
“Out of all the years of blood, guts, sweat and
tears, to be part of a pest control programme to
protect the kokako which along with Pureora
[Forest] now forms the stronghold of North
Island kokako, has been very rewarding.”
Mr Taucher plans to retire in Kawhia with his
partner Rose and looks forward to spending his
time hunting, fishing and gardening.
His parting message to the community is to
protect all the native species we have today –
especially the Maui’s Dolphin – before they are
“DOC cannot do this alone.
“So I encourage everyone in New Zealand to
take part in some project or activity that will help
“Let’s keep this country the way we know it
should be – paradise.”
Mr Taucher was thrown a retirement party
by his DOC colleagues at the Otorohanga Club
DOUG Taucher carried out numerous conservation roles throughout his 43 years protecting
wildlife like this gannet (clockwise from above left), releasing seals after the Rena oil spill off
the coast of Tauranga, as well as pest control programmes and talking to children about the
environment. PHOTOS SUPPLIED
Be sure to look
AFTER 43 years Department of Conservation ranger Doug Taucher from Otorohanga officially
retires from his post on Monday.
DOUG Taucher (left) originally started work with the New Zealand Forest Service in 1974.
When it merged with DOC in 1987, he went too. PHOTO SUPPLIED
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