Ask the QEII National Trust’s longest serving Regional Representative why she’s still going, more than 20 years on, and she’s quick to answer. For Nan Pullman, “it’s the people who have kept me at it”. And Nan has met a lot of people in her time as the Whangarei rep, a position she took on in December 1997. “Back then, it was Whangarei and Kaipara in my region”, recalls Nan. And back then, her region had a handful of covenants, now, it’s over 350.

Nan spent some time working in conservation before taking on the role with the Trust. She and her husband had young children and the part-time rep position offered Nan the flexibility to work around her family’s needs, while enjoying putting her passion for people and the environment to use. It’s a role she grabbed with both hands; “I just love being out in the field and dealing with people who like to look after our wetlands and bush. There are some amazing people out there working generously to protect our land and share their special places with us all”.

There have been many covenants registered, fences built, weeds quashed and new trees grown in Nan’s time with the Trust in Whangarei. One of her proudest endeavours has been her contribution towards the growth in our kiwi population through the Kiwi Coast project and work in the Maranui covenant. At 400 hectares, this is the largest covenant in the Whangarei region. Nan was instrumental in securing funding for pest control in Maranui, which helped the revival of kiwi, along with other native birds such as tui and kereru.

When Nan started with QEII, she was one of 12 reps. There are now 28 regional representatives around New Zealand. Over this time, Nan has noticed changes in how they work; “thanks to email, there is more communication between reps these days. There’s more information sharing, more camaraderie and less isolation. We really work as a team – this is a real strength of where the Trust is at now”.

Looking back to her early years with the Trust, Nan recalls the biggest question amongst her colleagues being, “Can we fund it?” Nan is heartened by where the Trust is at today with more funding available than before; “It’s exciting, it means we are readily able to help landowners with management. And that inspires people – they can see that we’re there to help them”.

Nan has met some wonderful people in her time so far as a rep. She recalls a generous group of women in Whangarei, who called themselves the Whangarei Native Forest and Bird; “They grew plants to sell at a stall in town, then passed the money raised on to me – to use where it was needed. This money would go towards fencing and surveying for our local covenants. It’s a great example of the collaboration and community spirit that surrounded the Trust”.

Twenty-four years as a rep, and Nan shows no sign of stopping; “I get a huge buzz out of it! So while I’m still enthused, I’ll keep going”. Interest in new covenants in the area continues to grow, and for the future, Nan thinks it’s important to “think strategically, and look to areas that will help to preserve our important wetlands”. The people is still what it comes down to for Nan; “these landowners are doing it because they want to do it. The best thing for me is going back to a covenant after 15 years and seeing the change. The land is almost unrecognisable because it is flourishing where it once was bare. The landowners are so happy to be sharing it and showing the work they’ve done. It’s a very special group of people.”