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The National Environment Service has advertised a position for an Assistant Park Ranger for the remote northern island Suwarrow. 

Due to Suwarrow’s isolated location, the job sees employees living in remote conditions, demanding a very specific type of person.

The two Suwarrow Park rangers are the only people on the island, unless yachts or the patrol boat Te Kukupa stop at the island while passing through the Cook Islands.

“The new ranger would be living and working closely with the current Suwarrow park ranger, Harry Papai,” Louisa Karika, manager of the Island Futures Division has said.

As such it is stressed to potential applicants the need for tolerance.

“You will be living on a very small motu with mainly one other person, so it is vital to be able to work well together and get along,” Karika said.

Applicants must hold many skills and unusual traits; in particular they must have some seamanship skills, be adaptive and able to find alternate solutions to the challenges of living and working on an isolated island, far from the usual resources, and must be confident in swimming and fishing.

As caretakers of the island, the rangers’ main responsibilities cover ensuring visitors adhere to the National Environment Act, the Suwarrow park rules and any Act designated by other government agencies. This includes acting as Custom officers for yachties who visit the island and its safe anchorages, as well as monitoring the birdlife on the island.

With visitors comes the risk of pollution on the island and disturbances to its wildlife.

It is also the rangers’ responsibility to police visitors on the island, to minimise their impact on the un-spoilt bird sanctuary, controlling the pollution of air, water and land, including collecting any rubbish that washes ashore.

All yachts that stop in Suwarrow must go through Customs, immigration and biosecurity checks by the rangers, as often Suwarrow is the first port of call for yachties entering the Cook Islands.

For safety reasons, rangers evacuate Suwarrow during the cyclone season.

The official term of employment on Suwarrow is from May to November; though successful applicants will train at the Rarotonga headquarters of NES one month prior to departure, and remain at NES for one month following their return from Suwarrow.

“Rangers are expected to work with NES for a month upon their return to Rarotonga, to allow time for debriefings with border control agencies and to develop and submit their report for their season on Suwarrow,” said Elizabeth Munro, senior Biodiversity Officer at NES.

Disadvantages of the job include isolation and no immediate assistance. As such NES ensures each officer undergoes medical clearance prior to them leaving.

The isolation also means Suwarrow residents have limited access to the extras once they run out.

“Supplies are provided for the officers to last 7 to 8 months, including food and fuel. Sometimes visiting yachts do provide some kind of assistance to the rangers such as checking their equipment or offering medical checks,” Munro continued.

Alternatively, the job offers an opportunity to meet people from various countries, learn about conservation and the chance to live on one of the most remote islands in the Cook Islands.

Closing date for applications is this Thursday.

For more information contact the National Environment Service. 

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