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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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EIT stalwart Di Reid (left) has retired after 25 years, but she has still been on the Hawke’s Bay Campus running first-aid courses for staff.

Di Reid has seen EIT grow tremendously in the 25 years she has worked on the Hawke’s Bay Campus, but at 67 she believes it is time to retire and spend time on new and old hobbies.

Di retired recently from her last role, which has been Technician in the School of Health and Sports Science. However EIT, which is now part of  Te Pūkenga, has not seen the last of her, as she has been running first-aid courses for staff.

For Di, the best part of her career at EIT | Te Pūkenga has been the people and the variety of work she has done over the decades.

“You never knew what was going to walk through the door. And you can be prepared as you can be, but suddenly somebody says, ‘I haven’t got this’ or ‘Can you do this?’ or ‘This is broken’. And that’s fine. It’s all good.”

Originally from the United Kingdom, Di has a background in science.

“I’m a science researcher by trade and I did a lot of plant pathology work in the UK. And then, in Christchurch, I worked in the hospital in the pathology lab there.”

Her first interaction with EIT was in the late 1990s when she did two short courses in waistcoat making and electronics. At the time she was working in the science laboratory at Woodford House in Havelock North.

“When I went to EIT, I thought it was such a nice campus that people must like working there. I was looking for a change and was looking for an 8-4pm job as we had four small children.”

Di says her initial job was a 0.5 position as a nursing technician. Within a year, she was working fulltime.

“The job was diverse – setting up exams and marking, managing the scantron (multichoice test) machine, nursing preparation and LOTS of dissections.”

“I was on the Health and Safety committee, social committee and any other excuse of a committee! There was no L, P, R, S, T blocks, no atrium, just big green paddocks out the back, no charge for parking, No Pettigrew Green Arena. Everyone knew everyone!”

“Then – all in a rush, we had Bachelor of Recreation & Sport, Beauty, Massage and the PGA was built, and there were buildings going up each year.

Di says her job “changed out of sight” with moving away from supporting  nursing, instead focusing on new programmes in sport,  health, massage, and beauty therapy. This involved lots of research into equipment for the different programmes.

It has been a career of being willing and able to step in and do the work that needed to be done to ensure that programmes and staff were supported. As online learning evolved, Di was enlisted to support other staff conduct online lessons.

As EIT has grown, so has Di’s job, with more equipment required and basic maintenance needing attention.

A gamechanger for Di was the COVID-19 pandemic, with EIT | Te Pūkenga among many organisations that needed to change the way they operated.

“COVID-19 came along, and I was one of nine staff asked to prepare classrooms, and in charge of ordering masks, hand sanitiser and other products.”

Di says that what has kept her going over the years has been that her job has been so varied, with no two days the same.

“I loved the interaction with the students, our office is a busy place with orders, students borrowing and buying stuff. I have loved working with staff all over campus and the staff first aid at the end of the year was always a highlight and great fun.”

“It is all a bit of a blur really but thank you all to everyone for everything. It has been fun. I have never not wanted to go to work.”

She may be retiring, but that does not mean that life will get less busy for Di.

“So now onto other things! The pace hasn’t really slowed with tramping, wood turning, gardening, book club and DIY.”

The Executive Director, Strategic Projects and Partnerships at EIT | Te Pūkenga, Glen Harkness says: “It has been a real privilege to have worked alongside Di for many years. Di’s energy and can-do approach have made her  integral to the life and success of the school and EIT.  She is a true EIT identity who will be missed. We wish her all the best with her retirement and the adventures it will bring.”