Nic Toki sees herself walking a tightrope of hope.
On one side, the Department of Conservation's bubbly public face sees apathy among Kiwis about our fast-vanishing nature; on the other is a sense of helplessness that the battle is already lost.
It's a tricky balance to strike for our official threatened species ambassador.
"If we only tell people good news stories, they have no sense of 'something at stake' to grab on to and to rally behind, but equally if I tell them a story so full of the crisis that our biodiversity faces, they may become overwhelmed and disengaged," she said.
"I can't 'make people care' any more than the next guy, but I worry about the 'extinction of experience' which leads to an acceleration of extinctions, and the legacy we leave our future Kiwi kids if we don't take the opportunity now.
"I have a 6-year-old boy and this is something I want to get right for him and his children."
With 56,200 living species, New Zealand boasts one of the most comprehensive natural inventories on the planet.
Compared with the rest of the world, we also have a freakish rate of endemism – that's species native to us – largely because of the millions of years our land spent in happy isolation.
We all know what happened when humans and foreign pest predators turned up.
In just 800 years, we lost a third of our indigenous land and freshwater birds, around 18 per cent of endemic seabirds, three of seven frogs, at least 12 invertebrates, possibly 11 plants, a fish, a bat and perhaps three known reptiles.
Today, about 900 of our known animal, plant and fungi species are considered threatened.
Several thousand more probably are too, but scientists haven't collected enough data.
Perched upon the brink of oblivion are 23 species like the orange-fronted parakeet (kākāriki), Chatham Island black robin, New Zealand fairy tern and the white heron.
A few years ago, we were even warned our national icon could be gone by as soon as 2050 if nothing was done to save it, prompting a cash injection for kiwi conservation.
All the while, as our nature bears the brunt of a rat plague driven by the largest forest seeding event in nearly half a century, many of us are oblivious to what we're losing.
One recent survey found that only two in 10 Kiwis thought our rare birdlife was in immediate crisis – just under half even thought they were doing well.
Despite media coverage about it, more than three quarters didn't even know about the mass seeding event that's sparked the largest pest control operation in our history.
Toki wasn't surprised.
"In fact, there is other data out there that shows that New Zealanders are completely missing the story when it comes to the situation for our native wildlife," she said.
"In the 2017 Perceptions of NZ Environment study from Lincoln University, authors found that 70 per cent of New Zealanders felt that the state of our native wildlife was adequate or doing well."
When she told people that, in areas with no pest control, 19 out of 20 North Island kiwi chicks didn't survive past their first year of life, they were shocked.
"Somehow, they've missed the memo. The challenge is that, as Sir David Attenborough says, people don't care about what they have never experienced.
"A lack of experience leads to a lack of empathy, which leads to an acceleration of extinction when we lose our connection to the things that define us."
Currently, about 87 per cent of us live in urban areas; the world average is about 55 per cent.
Most of our population has shifted from farms to towns and cities in just a couple of generations.
"Our physical detachment from nature has likely contributed to our disconnection, but so too has the 'busyness' of our lives and lack of work-life balance, as well as technology like smartphones and the internet making it difficult for New Zealanders to 'turn off' from work and towards the natural environment."
Auckland has a stunning array of regional parks on its back doorstep, yet recent research has suggested the knowledge, confidence and ability of city-dwellers to enjoy simple things such as camping and tramping was dropping.
Surveys carried out in the city suggested six out of 10 residents didn't know biodiversity was in decline.
"I think people are also a bit frightened and feel helpless due to all the climate and biodiversity crises news," she said.
"It feels overwhelming, like the problem is so big, a single individual can't possibly hope to address it. This might be why we fall down a rabbit hole of news articles about the Kardashians."
She thought the greatest opportunity to resolve this was the pride that we Kiwis have of our nature.
"Our mountains, forests, rivers, coasts – even if we never go there, we still identify deeply with our love for the natural world. As the great American nature writer Edward Abbey said: 'We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it.'
"We also know that people make decisions based on their values, so if our values are associated with our love of the natural world, then it's easier to activate people to do stuff, which we see examples of every day. The key is the activation.
"We know that when New Zealanders are faced with challenges to the values we hold dear, we rally together.
"We have seen that from the kindness and generosity that flowed after the earthquakes in Christchurch to how we responded to losing the cricket."
Mustering that support behind our under-pressure wildlife will be essential to seeing through New Zealand's bold bid to rid ourselves of pest predators by 2050.
One new study, by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research plant ecologist Duane Peltzer, found that getting public buy-in – including in urban areas – was among those major challenges to making the 2050 vision a reality.
"One thing I love about the Predator Free mission is that unlike many of the other wicked problems that we are facing, it's inclusive and not as polarising as other environmental issues," Toki said.
"I live in a small community in North Canterbury and we are involved in predator control on a very steep and rugged gully on nearby Mt Cass. It's dirty, tiring work but those of us involved love feeling like we are making a difference.
"And when we chance upon a gecko, or spot a falcon swooping over while we're clearing the traps, we know the proof is in the predator-free pudding."
Indeed, she said, when people truly understood the trouble our wildlife was in, they rallied.
"The challenge is reaching the majority who think everything is hunky dory out there in the bush and supporting them to respond so they can make a difference too," she said.
"People should get involved urgently, especially with regard to our mission to return thriving nature to New Zealand, because nature needs us to, but the unspoken message is that we need nature more."
"Nature provides us a bunch of vital services such as freshwater, clean air, pollination, not to mention the indirect benefits on our health and wellbeing."
The very presence of trees has been demonstrated to improve the health of pregnant women, speed up recovery times among hospital patients and cut the use of anti-depressants.
"The cost of replacing these services is exponentially higher to build from scratch than to support nature to do its thing - ask any farmer who has built a wetland about the expense."
Toki does her bit by sending out New Zealand conservation stories far and wide, often with a dollop of fun and humour.
"I think nature is fascinating and hilarious – I just learned about a species of scarab beetle in Australia that lives up a kangaroo's bottom.
"You can connect people by saying something that makes them laugh, and then makes them ask questions about that species that might lead to more learning and more action."
Avid Radio New Zealand listeners would have tuned into her regular "Critter of the Week" spots with afternoons host Jesse Mulligan, in which the pair discuss those more uncharismatic, even unlovable, species on the threatened list.
Kiwi and dolphins are apparently banned.
"People now stop me in supermarkets and on airplanes to ask me or tell me about some fascinating insect or fungus they have found.
"I once got sent photos of a native leaf-vein slug mating party from a very nice Wellington man.
"People love hearing stories about our native species. They will often start with 'I never knew that … .'
"They often ask me what they can do, and the first thing I say is, learn more about what makes our wildlife so special. Then go in your backyard and take a close look at that bug, plant or mushroom. Then usually I recommend they get trapping."
A self-described eternal optimist, it took a lot to get Toki down.
"I do get frustrated by misinformation and deliberate 'fake news' being spread about 1080, for example, when there is so much evidence and so much at stake for our native wildlife.
"However, I take heart from the majority of the New Zealand public caring about our wildlife and wild places, now I just need them to understand it's not all sunshine and lollipops out there, but with a bit of interest and action, we can absolutely turn things around."
The Department of Conservation's Nic Toki lists five species you probably didn't know were threatened.
Most people will be familiar with our massive kauri trees, or perhaps stood in awe in front of Tāne Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest, but probably don't realise that they once covered more than a million hectares of the North Island from the Far North to Kawhia. The greatest threat these days is kauri dieback - caused by a fungus that can swim. People can help by cleaning boots and gear and staying off the fragile root systems of these towering giants. This is the one time it's not good to be a treehugger.
The most ancient kind of eel, New Zealand's long fin or tūna is also the largest freshwater eel in the world. They have an amazing life cycle, after growing up in the rivers and lakes of New Zealand - which can take up to 100 years - they head out to sea to a mystery spot in the Pacific, where they breed and die. The tiny larvae follow the currents back to New Zealand, and the whole process starts again. Put simply, an eel can only be on your plate, or in a river, and any eel taken out for fishing doesn't get a chance to breed.
We have five species of migratory galaxiid – but you may be more familiar with their juvenile form, which makes up whitebait. Four out of the five whitebait species are at risk or threatened. The giant kokopu adult can live for up to 20 years and grows to more than half a metre long. The kōaro is an amazing climber and can be found up to 1300m above sea level. DoC is currently involved in engaging with the public about whitebait management.
Yes, these are the birds that steal your fish and chips, so it's hard to believe they could be threatened. The trouble is that their breeding colonies around New Zealand - of which there aren't many - have been in decline for some time. The Kaikoura breeding colony population halved between 1983 and 2005. Alternatively, the breeding colony at Taiaroa Head has increased steadily over the past 20 years due to the pest management for albatross.
Kea are loud and raucous and highly visible and are attracted to people, but they are in serious trouble due to predators – especially during beech mast events. Kea nest on the ground, and all stages of their life cycle (eggs and adults) are vulnerable to predation by stoats and rats, but also feral cats. In areas with no pest control only 40 per cent of kea nests are successful, which is bad. But in a beech mast year and the ripple effect of predators, this is reduced to just 5 per cent success.