A displaced tourism worker says he has no regrets about switching the office for an orchard.
After 18 years in the tourism industry, the impact of Covid-19 left Papamoa-based Geoff Rawlings out of work. In June this prompted him to take up a job in a completely new field, horticulture.
Geoff Rawlings, who is pruning and planting kiwifruit in Matapihi, recently became involved in the Ministry for Primary Industries campaign Opportunity Grows Here. The campaign is trying to attract thousands of New Zealanders to fill the gaps in the primary sector created by Covid-19 border restrictions.
Rawlings said he had spent his entire career in tourism and while it had its ups and downs, including the global financial crisis, this was the first time he had ever felt that it would take a long time to get back up.
While initially Rawlings thought working in a kiwifruit orchard would be a "sabbatical" of sorts, he said he now sees a future in the industry.
"I'm really enjoying myself here and you know, when you go through a redundancy, or a recession, or losing your job because of Covid, at first it was a little but of a mental struggle to get yourself up again, but this really has lifted my headspace and put [me] in a good place."
Rawlings encouraged others who had lost their jobs due to Covid-19 to consider shifting to horticulture.
"I'd say go for it, you'll learn lots, the industry is full of people that want to share their knowledge and that's a value that really aligned with me."
The Ministry for Primary Industries said there were opportunities in animal farming, fisheries, forestry, horticulture and winegrowing, and a wide variety of skills and backgrounds were required including machinery operation, administration, management and animal care.