New Zealand Outdoorsman Finds His Calling in Forest Engineering | Rayonier Stories
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New Zealand Outdoorsman Finds His Calling in Forest Engineering

Seamus Bardoul discovered forestry early, choosing to attend the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, to bring his dreams to fruition.

Some people are destined to spend their lives outdoors.

Seamus Bardoul knew he was one of those people when he left his small hometown of Matamata to study at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He loved the location, with the beautiful Southern Alps mountains and places to ski, hunt and surf. As a bonus, UC’s rugby program would allow him to continue playing a sport he had enjoyed since he was a toddler. But most importantly, he knew it was the only place in New Zealand to pursue the career of his dreams: working as a forestry engineer.

“I had always been interested in engineering since a young age and had a strong passion for the outdoors,” says Seamus, now a Rayonier Harvest Planner based in Tauranga. He was a young teenager when he first learned about forestry engineering during a careers event. He set his sights on forestry from that day forward.

Mock up of a bridge project
Seamus had hands-on building experiences, including this bridge project, as he studied forest engineering at UC. / All photos courtesy of Seamus Bardoul

Studying forestry full of adventure

For Seamus, there was rarely a dull moment at university. He split his time between his studies, rugby, and a job as a shearer. Forestry classes often were not the typical classroom-only experience. Instead, the students were on the go.

“There were often field trips around the South Island. We took one to the North Island in our fourth year of study,” he recalls. 

His forestry group was very tight-knit, sometimes pulling all-nighters together to get their work done. The forestry students spent their downtime together, too, regularly gathering for barbecues and social events.

Seamus playing in a rugby match nwith other rugby players
Seamus, in red on the left, has enjoyed rugby since he was 4. He played in the inside centre position on UC’s team.

Discovering Rayonier

In his third year of study, Seamus received a scholarship and an internship with Rayonier Matariki Forests. He quickly built friendships and became interested in working with the company after graduation. At the end of his final year at UC, Rayonier offered Seamus a graduate role. He gladly accepted.

“The relationship that I built with the Tauranga office in my internship and the team here is what cemented my decision to work here,” he says.

Seamus has continued to learn and grow as a Rayonier forester.

“I have a large independence in my role and work with an epic team,” he says. “The mix of experience in the office makes learning easy.”

Using what he learned

Seamus says techniques he learned at UC play a role in his work on most days as he plans the most effective way to move logs from the forest to public roadways.

He credits UC with equipping him with the skills he now uses to navigate mapping tools and GIS; design roads with civil engineering tools; and source forest rock using geotech knowledge. In addition, he says the people skills he learned at university have been invaluable on the job.

For students considering a forestry major, he recommends they “give it heaps” of consideration.

Mountainous forest with fog cover
Seamus captured this photo of the view from above the Oponae Forest.

Forestry at UC

The University of Canterbury is New Zealand’s only university offering professional forestry degree programs. Undergraduate programmes include a Bachelor of Forestry Science and—as Seamus chose—a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Forest Engineering. 

Rayonier Matariki Forests has a longstanding relationship with the UC across our student programs.

  • Rayonier offers scholarships/student vacation opportunities to 2nd and 3rd students annually, including student vacation work of 10-14 weeks over the summer period and a scholarship of up to $5K. 
  • We recruit for graduates each year. Our aim is to give our graduates broad exposure to the various aspects of operational forestry over their first 2 years of employment. We look for focused, driven all-rounders with a good attitude and who are passionate about forestry. 
  • Other examples of our involvement include: our efforts to support dissertation projects work during a student’s vacation work, hosting field trips for UC students, attending Meet the Employer Evenings at the UC Career evenings and participating in industry meetings at the UC.
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