I get a lot of satisfaction out of my work, whether it’s designing, writing or playing music. Another great aspect is that what I do brings joy to other people’s lives, too; whether they watch my band or experience another aspect of creativity. And you know what? That alone means more to me than any salary package.
For a long time, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew what I enjoyed. That’s the most important thing, in my opinion. If you like to read, then read. If you like to sing, then sing! That’s where all your inspiration for other things will come from. If you know what you like and you make space in your life for those things, you will be happy.
After the coffee cart I drifted from job to job. Stock taking at supermarkets, to labouring at the fisheries, stuff like that. Then I got pregnant. I was 19. To make it even harder, dad died two months after I gave birth. While that was really, really tough, I'm very thankful that he got to hold my baby in his arms. I named my son Stanley, after dad. In our culture, if you name name a baby after someone, it means they will carry on that person's good traits.
It’s funny, people look at me, look away, glance back and realise I’m wearing a tool belt. My two sons ask me to bring it home for them to play with. I’m trying to set an example to them. I want them to grow up knowing that they can do anything that they want to do, just like mum.
Lyttelton needed two new pilots and they called me up. It was strange at first, living on land. I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting until the ‘holiday’ was over and I’d get back on the ship. After a while, I realised it wasn’t that bad. I loved going away on road trips. But the best part was being able to go to my own home each day after work. I haven’t moved far really, just across the road from where I grew up.
You know when something satisfies you because you want to work really, really hard. That’s how I felt at architecture school. It felt so right. I discovered there are multiple avenues. You might be the sort of person that who excited by the theory behind it all, or the aesthetics, or there’s the form and proportion of buildings. There are many pathways within the one career.
Being a mother is hard work. I watch my child grow and know he learns from everything he sees me do. It feels good when people he’s a good boy. He’s a great listener, and that’s something I’ve tried very hard to teach him. He represents me, in a way. I might walk down to the mall looking terrible, but as long as he’s shining, I don’t care. He’s my success.
They say being a mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world, up there with air traffic controllers. Yet employers don’t accept it as work experience. When you’re looking at applying for jobs, it’s not good for your self confidence to know that. People don’t take you seriously. They think you’re out of practise or out of touch.
Dad is a vehicle mechanic by trade, but he started out in the army. I always thought I wanted to be a teacher like mum, so I did a physical education degree in the Waikato. When my brother got into the army, it got me thinking more broadly about what I could do.
I grew up in a very traditional home and my parents had quite conservative notions about gender. I was the youngest of four children - the only girl. If things had gone according to plan A, I’d be happily married with a bunch of children, but I chose a very different path.
The best part of my job is the rush. Fighting a fire is awesome. You’re testing yourself under all sorts of pressure - physical pressure, mental pressure. Every two years we do a physical competency test. All fire stations either have a gym or membership to a local gym. You get paid to work out! So much of the job requires you to be physically strong.
I was only the sixth employee to be hired at the company, but now I work with 150 others. I’ve been developing the same product for 20 years. It’s complex and big and multi-national companies use our software. Google, Microsoft, oil companies, governments.
Getting into a trade is a good idea because there’s constant work. It’s enabled me to have flexible hours and has supported me during pregnancy. I’ve been able to step back in when the kids were old enough for daycare. Now that they’re are at primary school, I’m back to five days a week. I try to make sure I offer the same flexibility to the women that work for me. I know what it’s like having a young family and I’m happy to put in a lot of effort to accommodate their family needs.
When I was at primary school I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. When I was at high school I either wanted to be a dietician, or to study art at Victoria University in Wellington. I missed the boat on all three. I was too young for my year group and couldn’t gain entry into the courses I wanted to do because I was only 17. So I took a gap year.
I guess the nuclear family stereotype is that mum stays at home and the dad is seen as the successful parent because he earns money. Our society places too much importance on money. Mum could’ve worked, but she put her children first. She’s done the best by her children in a sense, but the kids might not see that. Society might not see that.
There are a variety of local role models for our young women. From engineering, fire fighting, to being a mother, or working at a call centre. We all have stories to tell and they are all worth telling.
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