Geoff Button, instilling a love of learning, and a love of the land

Geoff Button photograph

Meet Geoff Button, a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in the guiding and guide training industry. As the lead tutor of the Trainee Ranger Programme at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Geoff brings a wealth of knowledge and a holistic approach to fostering rewarding outdoor experiences in New Zealand. With a BSc in Geography from the University of Canterbury, Geoff’s journey has taken him from guiding individuals across Aotearoa’s awe-inspiring landscapes to his current role in the sunny Tasman region. Passionate about his work, Geoff finds joy in mentoring and guiding both young and mature ranger trainees, fueling their enthusiasm for conservation.

What do you love most about your job? 

I really love to see the change in students from when they arrive with us in Te Tauihu and when they leave to go and do the very important mahi. I also very much enjoy it when I am speaking to prospective employers of my present students and they happen to be my ex-students doing the hiring. I also really like to see the passion my students show in their mahi.

Geoff Button photograph
Geoff’s students photobomb a disgruntled kakīānau in St. Arnaud

Tell us a bit about where you live? 

I live in Riuwaka with my wife Robyn and nine year old boy Baxter and we are surrounded by regenerating native bush. There are abundant birds around including Tui, Korimako (Bellbird), Kereru, Weka, Falcon (Karearea) Ruru (Morepork), Piwakawaka and even Kea. My view isn’t bad either, we look across at Rangitoto Ki te Tonga (Durville Island).

Geoff Button photograph
Another day dawns over the Marlborough Sounds, and D’Urville island emerges from the haze.

What do you see on the horizon for conservation education that gets you excited? 

New technology for tracking our progress and to further the cause of trying to achieve Predator Free 2050. There is so much going on in conservation and we are just getting better and better. Research and Development are key to our success to achieve our goals.

David Bellamy (my hero) spoke to my students a few years back and he said “New Zealand / Aotearoa has a very strong Department of Conservation who have world class skills which are in demand around the world, things like island rat eradications are one example of this. They are at the forefront of conservation internationally.” 

I think we need to invest in DOC and other conservation organisations to achieve our lofty goals.

What makes you nervous? 

Losing skilled people from conservation because they are not being valued enough, we need to pay them more, give them a vision of what a career in conservation looks like and provide nurturing workplaces where they can grow and thrive.

Geoff Button photograph
A career in conservation – Geoff wants to see young people thrive in their workplaces.

What’s your favourite native bird and why? 

That’s a hard question because they are all so unique. If I had to choose it would be the Tui as it is so agile, tenacious and is a survivor, their calls are also amazing. 

Can you tell us a favourite memory from being a trainee ranger tutor? 

One of my favourite memories from being a Trainee Ranger tutor was when my students performed a surprise haka at their graduation for myself and a colleague, the passion in their faces and the way they poured their hearts and souls into it brought me to tears, this feeling will be with me forever. 

What could New Zealand use more of? 

Project managers to help the people in the field carry out their work. There are so many people in the conservation industry that have so much energy and a strong will to do their best, with great project management backup they could achieve their potential in the field. 

Favourite saying? 

When there is a tough job that needs to be done, put yourself forward every time and do that crappy job well and with a smile …. this will open doors for you when opportunities come up. 

Geoff Button photograph
‘Money isn’t everything, working in conservation gives you the opportunity to enjoy the best lunch spots on Earth!’

Share this post

Related articles