The December Issue
Christmas in Omarama
An Omarama Christmas is a Christmas like no other. What is that sets Christmas day in Omarama apart? For a start a good percentage of us - retailers, accommodation providers, those in the service industry or on farm - will be working. It is not a day off, nor is it time for holidays. For most of the workers it will be a gift if they can spend just one day over the break at home in their pyjamas catching up on rest. The volunteers will be on duty 24/7 and, if called, will set aside time with family and friends to assist those who need attention as our villages grow to the size of small towns for the duration. No one's complaining. "It is what it is, it's what we're here for.” Sometimes family and friends find it hard to make it 'home' for Christmas. Many here are away from 'home' at Christmas. Homesickness abounds. Those are the downsides. Then there are the little things that make the difference - like great friends and neighbours, and legendary high country hospitality and generosity which means there is good company to be had and plenty to share, if you want it. It's summertime. There's (usually) good weather and scrumptious seasonal food - pavs, berries, salads, and often lamb on the menu rather than turkey, barbecues and smoked salmon by the lake. >>> continue reading <<<
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You do get the feeling there’s nowhere else they’d rather be, and they certainly think there’s no better place to learn. Daniel Aitken (24) and Tom Trusler (20) are the apprentices at Mobil Omarama. Owners Terry and Michelle Walsh employed Dan, who is less than a year out from
completing his time, about three years ago when he moved from Cromwell to Otematata to live. Back at high school – Cromwell College – a career in a mechanical field had been talked about given his keen interest but there were no openings at the time. Dan says what he loves most about working at Mobil Omarama is the variety of work he is able to tackle. “Farm trucks, boats, and anything and everything in between,” he says. “The skill set you learn is a lot wid-er”. The study is full-on but because there is so much “on-the-job” experience given at Mobil nei-ther Dan nor Tom have had to spend much time travelling away to block courses.
Because he gets to work on such a variety of tasks the study side of it has come more easily, Dan says. Their working day at the garage is 8am to 5pm and all study – which is nowadays done online - must be completed in their own time. Dan, who experienced the "crossover" from textbook to online study says the early days had their challenges and assignments had to be posted in. It meant waiting, sometimes weeks, for feedback about how he was doing. Tom began at Mobil Omarama earlier this year after recently moving to Omarama from Oama-ru. He’d always enjoyed working on cars and “learnt a bit” working on friends’ vehicles. Seven months in, and he’s really enjoying the work which can be anything from pull-ing apart a lawnmower to putting a vintage jeep back together. “It’s good because there’s bit of everything,” he says. An apprenticeship takes three-and-a-half to four years to complete, and as well as Terry’s mentoring and tuition, a tutor calls on a regular basis to check progress and set new goals for Dan and Tom. Once through his time Dan plans to stay on for another two to three years. And although he thought his future lay in building engines he’s found he’s now undecided because so many more opportunities have opened up, especially as new technologies are constantly pushing the horizons. He and Terry are booked in for a course in the new year to learn more about the latest type of fuel injectors. “Terry’s good at keeping us all up with the latest technology.” The evolving world of mechanics is moving towards complete diagnosis by computer. Plus, each vehicle company “does everything differently”, Tom says. Meanwhile, the pair return to working on the task at hand – tuning up an engine 1950’s-style on a post-World War 2 Jeep.
Chain Hills Hwy, Omarama
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