Wednesday, 2nd, February. We woke up early to get a lift into Te Puke with the girls who where apple picking. “There is too much moisture now so they must wait for a phone call” Tan informed us. Lynne was also up and almost ready to go to work. I asked her about the Maoris and if the other NZ people get on with them “yeah there all right, they strut around a lot, they think its their country, I don’t like their energy” she said. “what language do they speak?” I asked “I don’t bloody know…Maori I suppose” she replied.
We had arranged to go to Travelian for induction. Travelian is a kiwi fruit picking and packing farm, Sarah and I had been in touch with over the last few months. Tan very kindly drove us to the farm. Along the road were safety signs with cartoon kiwi fruit with wheels on and messages like “ that’s it mate, don’t forget to indicate” and “ I always keep a safe distance” and “ thanks for driving safely”. It was all very juvenile. Another sign whizzed past with a man in a car all bloody and with a broken arm, the lines read “ if you drink and drive, you’re a bloody idiot”.
We turned left and up a small steep road, kiwi vines forming a natural roof in the farms, suspended on poles and trellises. I noticed with a little worry that the vines where very low and that if I was going to do any picking I would have to bend my knees considerably or have to get very good at limbo. Soon on the right a sign saying “Travelian pack and cool, employment this way”. We drove into the farm, fields of kiwi on either side of the dirt road. We came to a large wooden building with benches and people in orange high viability jackets outside. There was a large crowd of people visible through the large windows looking into the wooden building. It seemed a lot of people where applying for jobs, Asians, Maoris, Westerners, Indians, just about every race in the world was in the building. Sarah and I went in and signed up and went through the induction while Tan waited outside and chatted with a girl.
The induction consisted of walking through the 4 big ware houses and having a brief introduction to the grading, packing and stacking which is involved in the job. It was all very cattle like. Us dumb foreigners huddling around a conveyor belt as the hair netted workers showed us the difference between the boxes, about how fast we should pack and how to tuck in the plastic bags. “And those of you with beards will have to wear a beard net as well” a cold faced woman said looking at an Indian man with a full on wizards face thatch and flowing robs.
We then got our finger prints on the machine so we can clock in and out. Later we went to a nearby caravan site and booked our self’s a caravan for when work starts. Then back down to Te puke to open a bank account and send off for our IRD cards which allows for tax deductions and we also got a new phone card each, We then went and moved into our new house, A bungalow in a residential area in Te puke. Our house mates are Ester, a bubbly Chinese Malaysia woman who is always laughing and Chen a slight build Chinese Malay girl who is quiet and giggly. They are both very easy to be around and we instantly settled in after our long day. Chatting laughing and eating. Ester gave us advice about applying for extra work and how to buy cars and all the other things new comers need to know in another country.
As I sat in the living room watching the sunlight glowing and the cool breeze moving the curtains I marveled at how easy our trip has been so far. All the things we have achieved today would in China or in the UK cause me a lot of stress and would take a long time but in the space of an afternoon we managed to set everything up which is essential to live. Job, Accommodation, Bank account, Tax and phone. All with suspicious easy. We needed to travel around a bit and all we did was stick our thumbs out on the road and within 30 seconds we were picked up. We hitch hiked 4 times today and every time the drivers went out of their way to take us off their root and to where we wanted to go “please we don’t want to put you out” I would say “ oh no worries mate, I have nothing else to do today anyhow” A strange thing to say in the afternoon of a working day.
We are now settled and my last night’s reservations about if we could get a job have been dispelled like mist in sunlight.
The fire station near us is whaling again in its spooky mournful cry. There must be a lot of fires today.