A former city girl who grew up Christchurch, Keri had always been captivated by animals and farming and had often dreamed of a rural life. Now surrounded by lush native bushland and the rolling hills of Glentui in the Waimakariri District, she is constantly reminded of the simple life – working with dogs, horses, cattle, sheep and deer, while breathing in fresh air and feeling grounded by the lavish greenery that encompasses her and her family. Drawing on her experience as both a Health and Safety Manager and a qualified Quarry Manager, Keri now runs her own mining and quarrying consultancy business, Tui Creek Consulting. The mother of one works to provide project services, coaching and mentoring, while raising her young daughter and also working part-time on the farm.
When asked what concerned Keri about the health and safety of those in rural industries and communities, Keri stressed just how important it is to have a contingency plan in place when working with things like fire – which can be unpredictable and potentially disastrous. Keri regularly checks their farm’s Health and Safety Plan, but also emphasises the need to communicate well and hold regular de-briefs to make sure opportunities for improvement are discussed and implemented.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Kind, caring and chatty.
Tell me something interesting about yourself...
While I grew up in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, I have always been drawn to animals and farming. A 17-year stint on a lifestyle block in Dunsandel coupled with a change of marital status meant a shift to Glentui to farm 18 hectares of hill land, surrounded by native bush, working dogs, deer, cattle, sheep and horses.
In 2018, I established my own mining and quarrying consultancy business after previously working as a Health and Safety Manager and qualified Quarry Manager (B Grade CoC). I wanted to be able to be at home as much as possible with my young daughter and to enjoy the farming life. I feel very blessed to have a lovely property and family.
What's one achievement you are most proud of?
The ability to run my own mining and quarrying consultancy business from home while still being a mum, partner and part-time farmer.
What makes you truly happy?
Being comfortable in my own skin.
What do you love the most about being a rural woman?
The ability to breathe in fresh air each day while absorbing the beautiful landscape of the New Zealand bush. I seek time with my horses and dogs (working) to reground myself, and the native bushland provides a good back drop, confirming to me that life really can be so gloriously simple.
Tell me about a time when you felt worried about your own or someone else’s health, safety or wellbeing on the farm, boat or in some other aspect of rural life.
My partner working long seasonal hours in the agricultural industry does worry me. Now with good communication and with better rostered shift hours the last season, this has meant I could find out easily where he was working and he didn’t work long hours in one hit. The tiredness creeps up on you and driving home after a long day is where I worry the most about him.
What practical things did or could you, your partner and / or others do to prevent someone from getting hurt?
A Health and Safety Plan for the farm is in place and checked regularly.
Watching the WorkSafe NZ website and Beef + Lamb NZ website enables us to keep up to date with changes.
Is there a time, place or scenario when your partner / workers are more willing to make changes to the way work is done?
We always talk after we’ve carried out an activity or process to see what we could have done better.
If you could give any advice to another rural woman about work health and safety in rural industries, about influencing change in business - or just in general - what would it be?
To support your partner and workers and to empower them to contribute to their own health and wellbeing.
To monitor any changes and to support those who are struggling either physically or mentally.