“A lot of my mates are still getting money off their parents, but I haven’t taken a cent off my parents since I was 18 years old. ”
I first met Jimmy in February 2014, on board the Sounds Legend. John had been telling me that Jimmy had worked with the company more than two years and was a “legend” himself for crossing the Whangamoa Saddle on a Nifty-Fifty to get to work at Clearwater Mussels. “It tells you a lot about the guy, about his commitment and persistence”, said John. Jimmy started working at Clearwater Mussels in December 2011.
Jimmy, Crewman on the Sounds Legend, aged 20:
I was born in Palmerston North but I left school in the fifth form—basically I failed school—and I came down to the Sounds to live with my Dad. I ended up going to Nelson College and now I live in Nelson. I got my NCEA but basically on day one, after leaving school, I didn’t have much going for me. I got put in touch with John at Clearwater through a mate; he said they needed a man out here for a job so I got in contact.
I didn’t know much about mussel farming. I’d done a week of holiday work when I was 16 and that was about it. I was going to head to Christchurch to do building, and I thought about going to uni but my grades were not that good so I came here and I’ve just never left; its good work here and I enjoy it.
I work mostly on the Sounds Legend. I’ve only been on the Legend for a short while before that I was on the Muscat for a couple of years. On the Legend we do mussel seeding, strip the lines, and get the mussels back in the water and all that stuff. On the Muscat we did all sorts of things like floating farms, lifting lines, farm work like preparing the farm and sometimes a bit of seeding. There was quite a bit of variety on the Muscat.
I like the work, but to be honest it’s not about that so much. It’s about liking the people you work with and being in the Sounds … on the boats … for me it’s kind of relaxing, it’s not like working in town where there’s heaps of people around all the time. I hadn’t spent much time out on the sea before I came here, but it’s real good—crazy really—you work real hard but come smoko break, if it’s a hot day, you just jump in the water and go swimming (laughs).
It takes a bit of getting used to working and living on the boat but once you get used to it it’s bloody awesome, you can’t beat it really. And it’s like, you work on the boat and you’re working really hard and it can be stressful but then you go home and you just leave work completely behind. You live and work on the boat; then you live at home and the two things are separate so you can relax when you’re home. See what I mean? You don’t take work home with you.
A lot of my mates are still getting money off their parents, but I haven’t taken a cent off my parents since I was 18 years old. I’ve been working all year round, learning to be independent. I work four days on and three days off and I’ve learned to look after myself, and the boat, and work with the crew. The money is really good. In fact, it’s awesome. I’ve got a lot more money than most of my friends my age and it takes a bit of getting used to.
My job is real stable, I’ve started saving and, within reason, that’s changed my plans about what I want to do because when I see my savings I can see there’s more possibilities. So there’s more I can achieve. I like to have a bit of fun but I’m also starting to think more about investing money. I’ve been thinking about maybe buying a rental property at the end of the year. Once I see the money building up I start to think of spending it on more worthwhile stuff.
I’ve also started to think about what I can achieve. I’d really like to run a boat one day. In June, I’m going for my Skipper’s ticket and that’ll be a good opportunity to move up to a higher position; to get the experience I need to learn how to run a boat. I’ll need that experience if I’m going to be Skipper. I mean, that will be awesome when I do start running a boat. I’d love it. I’ve been working alongside Tim (Skipper) and I’d be able to put into practice what I’ve learned over the years. Also, I’d be learning how to manage staff myself, and I’d have to work out things to do that are good for the company.
That’s all really good experience for the future, to show that you can run something and be a boss—managing other people as well as yourself. Awesome. Tim’s been a really good example—he’s not a psycho (laughs), so working with him I’ve learned a few things like—not just how to learn things myself—but how to help other people learn things without getting angry and flustered. I’ve learned how to work through things in a calm and collected way, you know? I’m more confident because I’ve done heaps of learning, including how to stick up for myself. Like I’ve learnt … don’t be scared to ask, if you don’t know something, there’s no shame in asking. I’ve learned to work hard, which is sweet. And I’ve learned to be a good sort; because that’s what I’m treated like.
I reckon working the mussel farms is a real good thing for young guys. You learn how to work hard, how to do long hours, how to work with other people even when you’re tired. You get training, heaps of work skills. I’d definitely like to have my own mussel line in the future. I reckon though, that mussel farming in New Zealand is becoming quite advanced—all the equipment and knowledge and stuff. And I think mussel farming will take off over the world over the next thirty years. So I’m in a good position because of my training, and because I’ll be properly qualified. I’ll be able to work anywhere in the world.
Jimmy’s ideas about mussel farming around the world are interesting when you consider the way that competencies like knowledge and technology are building within Clearwater, and across the industry. His ideas are prescient when we consider the potential for international production networks to form from New Zealand companies investing in water space, or managing water space in other economies. It will be the young people being trained today, who transfer the knowledge into those new investment areas.
Case studies prepared by Mandolin Associates Limited, firstname.lastname@example.org