Kirsten and Chris started working at Pakuranga Park in August 2021 in the role of Activities Coordinators. Almost two years later, they’re very happy that normal life has resumed at the village after the challenges of Covid and the lockdowns.
“Our job is to make the residents happy, but this role makes me happy too!” – says Kirsten – “There’s never a boring day at Pakuranga Park”. Chris couldn’t agree more: “I love my job. It’s so diverse, I think that’s what I like so much about it. It’s fulfilled me more than I ever imagined”.
Kirsten and Chris worked together in another retirement village before they both made the move to Pakuranga Park. Kirsten worked as a teacher for 22 years before changing career, but she thinks that all the attributes she learned in the classroom can be applied in her role at the village. “The initiative, the creativity, the organisational skills, the empathy…these are all very useful here”.
Chris was self-employed for most of her life. She had an interior design company for 20 years and she managed a functions centre for 10 years. Now she loves the feeling of being part of such a close-knit team like the one they have at Pakuranga Park: “It’s an amazing family. We’re both loved and we have so much fun with the rest of the team”. Chris really enjoyed participating in the Amazing Race, a team building event that Kirsten organised to promote a stronger connection among staff members.
Kirsten and Chris started as Activities Coordinators but at the beginning of 2023, Chris adopted the role of Welfare Coordinator. Now she focuses on the most vulnerable residents at the village: “I’m building lots of relationships. It’s so satisfying to be able to help them out. They come to you, and they hug you just to say thank you, and this is very rewarding.”
Chris is a very sociable person and that’s why she enjoys so much taking the residents on trips. She’s now working on the project of organising a two-nights trip around Matakana for the residents who would really like to venture north of Auckland.
Kirsten and Chris are so integrated in village life that the residents consider them now part of their family. Chris feels so much at home that sometimes it can lead to funny conversations: “I will be walking around the village when I meet some new residents and after a bit of chatting, they will ask me where my villa is… because they think I’m also a resident!”
Both Kirsten and Chris are very hard-working and eager students who don’t mind learning new skills if the village needs them to. Pakuranga Park’s Social Committee periodically organises bowling competitions where residents and staff members will compete against each other. Kirsten always participates in these competitions along with Village Manager Christian Pulley… even if it normally involves being beaten by the residents’ team!