When Marina married her farmer some 25 years ago, she was unsure of how her corporate background would merge with farm life. Coming from a background in telecommunications to settle on a sheep and beef farm two hours north of the city seemed daunting, however within a few short years, she had a vision to build an online horticultural business – something she had little to no experience in. RhodoDirect was launched in 2000, and over a 20 year period both she and her husband Craig not only established a five acre show garden, but provided the leadership that saw the launch of the Hurunui Garden Festival, an annual, springtime event that celebrates local gardens. In 2020, RhodoDirect was sold, allowing Marina to return to her original career in training and development. With a newly acquired Diploma of Professional Coaching, Marina has since launched a new business – Thrive13 – which focuses on the personal and professional development of young women. Now with 25 years’ experience in both corporate and rural sectors and with her own horticultural career behind her, Marina has a wide range of skills to offer her clients.
When asked what concerned Marina about the health and safety of those in rural industries and communities, Marina spoke of the impact of depression on personal relationships within rural families. As a passionate facilitator of InsideOUT Confidence Workshops for rural women, she believes that we need to focus on finding the confidence to use our voices to talk about what really matters.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Motivated, passionate, contributor.
Tell me something interesting about yourself...
I married a farmer 25 years ago and moved to a place I never knew existed. We renovated an old farm cottage on a 200 acre block of land just down the road from the main family sheep and beef farm. Five years later we built ourselves a new home, a Rhododendron garden and nursery and opened a brand-new business in our small rural community. I also worked hard to keep a finger in the pie in the city, with various organisations, contracting my training and speaking services to them on an as needed basis. I had a plan that one day, when the children were old enough, I would venture back to my original career. I love rural life and serving in my community and I’m passionate about the mental wellbeing of rural families, but in particular rural women, who are often holding stressed families together. In 2017 I launched InsideOUT Confidence – a workshop for rural women to aid in their personal self-esteem. With professional photographer Lucy Hunter Weston of Hawarden, we facilitate these workshops for 10 women at a time helping them to believe in themselves and see themselves as women of immense value.
What's one achievement you are most proud of?
Raising our three children is definitely the best thing I’ve been a part of. I have juggled motherhood and business and have had times of guilt and concern about the pressure I’ve placed on myself or the family. At the end of the day, we have three children with an extremely high work ethic who are also very motivated. I feel a huge sense of gratitude to have been able to raise them in this rural community.
What makes you truly happy?
I adore the view of the snow-capped mountains from my home and I love the seasons and changes in the land we call home. I love to get off the farm and venture out for work or play but I always love coming back to this place that I cannot imagine ever leaving. There is a such a strong sense of belonging here.
What do you love the most about being a rural woman?
I adore my community. I love the older rural women who encourage and nurture me. When I speak at a rural event I’m loved-on by this generation who always make a point of coming to tell me how proud they are of me and how they came “to support me”. It feels so incredibly nurturing. I love the sharing of stories, lives and struggles. I am so glad to live in the generation where sharing is encouraged. I feel sorry for the generation of women who felt that they did it best by keeping their struggles to themselves.
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.
I have seen depression take many farmers very low. I’ve worried about the family as well as the farmer and for how they are going to get help and find their way through the journey. I’ve spent hours on the phone listening to their struggles and encouraging family members to speak up and take action.
What practical things did or could you, your partner and / or others do to prevent someone from getting hurt?
It’s the pain of depression that I’m most passionate about helping with. I know how dark if feels to be lost down that hole and how it seems as though the joy is never going to return. My passion is to help rural women in this journey by supporting them. Even if it is one by one, one call at a time to someone I know who needs some support, that is so helpful to that one woman in that moment.
Is there a time, place or scenario when your partner / workers are more willing to make changes to the way work is done?
My daughter challenges her father, she is only 14 at the moment but she is the one who really gets the important messages through to him. “Dad you need to get off the farm for a bit and go fishing.” There is something very special about their bond and I’m very grateful to her for the insight she already has into what her Dad needs and how she is committed to helping him. He listens to her and it means my voice isn’t the one pushing for mental wellbeing all the time.
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?
Talk to other rural women, share your concerns and ask what they have done. Be willing to ask for help from rural women that you trust, be brave and tell them the struggles you are having. No good comes from keeping secrets, and no one can help you if they don’t know you have a problem.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Today more than ever, young women have to make smart choices about their future. The world is a different place, and how we have operated in the past is not going to work for the future. We need to make better choices, be more informed and use our money wisely. Investing now, for the future, is going to ensure that this generation of young women are prepared to thrive. Our goal is to help bridge the gap between the end of high school and the beginning of the next phase through Thrive13.