"Everyone should stay at home."
When the Department of Conservation was set up 33 years ago, this is probably not the message they expected to be telling Kiwis.
Covid-19 has affected many aspects of the way we interact with and appreciate New Zealand's natural heritage. An enforced lockdown might mean we now appreciate it more than ever. However it doesn't change DOC's mission "to protect natural and historic heritage."
If that requires stopping access to camp sites and conservation land around the country under a Level 4 health emergency, that's exactly what they will do.
A spokesperson for the Department said this anniversary was "acknowledged" but as DOC is working from home, celebrations were put on hold.
"DOC's priority at this time is to support New Zealand in stopping the spread of Covid-19 and saving lives," they said.
"Recreation in the great outdoors needs to be put on hold while the country is in lockdown."
The DOC we know today was voted into existence on April 1st 1987, with the passing of the Conservation Act. With 1111 permanent and 718 casual staff nationwide, the organisation was no joke.
Under the management of Minister Russell Marshall it drew workers from disciplines as varied as birdwatchers and archaeologists. Until then, New Zealand's various conservation agencies were so widely spread that they were sometimes working in opposition to one another. One hand was protecting forest land while another was logging for development.
DOC was created to join up the 'green dots' of Kiwi conservation.
Perhaps the biggest guiding principle for this joined-up thinking was the Treaty of Waitangi.
With Te Tiriti principles written into the Conservation Act it was now expected that the traditional Maori land ownership and rights be consulted in any work by the department.
DOC's stance on controversial issues such as 1080 poison have not always been universally welcomed, but they have been consistent. Perhaps on no issue more so than the introduction of fees to forest park huts in 1990.
The department says there was "general public outcry" when they introduced the fees (about $4 a night) but ultimately, New Zealanders got used to the idea of paying for huts.
There's no doubt that DOC has changed how we value and access our own back yard. Sadly, at times that means not visiting at all.
In 2018, in response to the Kauri dieback epidemic, the department had to cut off large swathes of conservation land to the public. However, the total shut down of DOC land is unprecedented.
All DOC huts, campsites and remote facilities have been closed to the public until further notice.
While in some areas residents living close to DOC trails will still be able to access land, they stress this is ONLY for local access. "If you have to drive to reach a trail, it isn't local."
"Time spent in nature keeps us fit and calms the mind. We must all look after ourselves and loved ones during this time."
However, DOC urges Kiwis to "stay close to home."
This is not just for social distancing reasons and the fight against Covid-19, but for the safety of people on the ground. Access to backcountry areas or adventure sports, hunting and fishing are all off limits at the moment.
Most regular work undertaken by DOC such as monitoring wildlife, cameras or predator control operations have been deemed non-essential and is therefore on hold.
With only a few exceptions in place for care of threatened native species, there is no one in the field.
"All DOC staff who are not involved in Incident Management Teams are working from home. This includes rangers and other field staff."
It would be a very bad time to fall off a mountain bike.
"We expect the public to do the right thing for their safety and the safety of others," says DOC, however if people notice "behaviours that aren't appropriate" it should be reported through 105.police.govt.nz.
While this birthday hasn't given much news to celebrate, it's hoped that New Zealanders will respect the closures of DOC facilities.
Until further notice, the champions of New Zealand's great outdoors will be working indoors.
Visit DOC's website for information including track updates, closures and safety advice: www.doc.govt.nz
Doc are offering refunds for huts, campsites, lodges and Great Walks for reasons relating to COVID-19 with 7 days notice from date of arrival. Cancellations within less than 7 days of arrival will be made at the discretion of staff, or with evidence of cancelled travel.