News | 9 September 2021

Community heroes in conservation: John Curran

Pōneke recently celebrated the planting of its two millionth native plant, following a 20-year programme involving Wellington City Council staff and thousands of community volunteers.

Conservation Week/Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa is happening 4–12 September, so we’re highlighting some of the awesome people who have contributed to making our wonderful city greener.

A large grassy hillside with people dressed in work pants and orange high-vis tops spread apart planting shrubs, with new subdivisions and a sports field down below in background.

John Curran is all about weed control and preparing the capital’s parks and reserves for restoration planting.

John is just one of Wellington City Council’s many staff, who is passionate about enhancing the city’s native wildlife. He is part of the Parks, Sport and Recreation team, which is kaitiaki to Wellington’s parks and reserves and works to promote wellness among Wellingtonians through recreation and the outdoors.

John is the Council’s Team Manager Operational Projects. For almost 20 years, John has been working in site preparation and aftercare for the restoration planting programme.

He and his dedicated crew look after the restoration sites, managing weeds with both spraying and hand-releasing methods. There has been a big shift over the years for less chemicals and more hands-on control. This has led to better site preparation techniques and more instances where weedy areas are converted to grass before planting.

Fourteen people dressed in work boots and three in high-vis orange vests, standing grouped together, forward facing with arms folded, in a workshop with Fluro lights above.
John Curran (centre with security card around his neck) with his dedicated team.

“While I grew up in the outdoors, I never planned on getting into this field or making a career of it. I started with PSR about 19 years ago by accident,” John says.

“A manager I knew at the time asked if I wanted a job as I had just returned from overseas – it was good timing as I was broke. The job just so happened to be in the weed control team at our Parks Operational Depot and was responsible for much of the maintenance of restoration sites.

“As soon as I started I knew it was the job for me. I enjoyed the outdoor work, the variety, and the physical side of weed control and preparing planting sites.

“Over the years I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the regeneration of these areas around Wellington and the input from staff, community, and so many others.”

Ways to get involved in conservation in your community