Bio – Michael

MICHAEL

I was born in Nelson, NZ. My dad wanted to be a scientist, unfortunately he never realised his dream so had to be content with discovering new things for himself. He was always tinkering with crystal sets and would save for months to buy a valve or resister to build something new. We had the first tv in our street, I remember watching the moon landing when most had to be content watching it through shop windows. We also owned a prototype Vauxhall Dormobile vehicle, 1 of only two in Australasia. So, I guess I can blame him for my inquisitive nature and desire to be the first to try something out.

That attitude saw me in conflict with my school at 13 to take typing as a subject, an all-female domain at the time. Having achieved getting home economics added to the male curriculum. I left school at 14 to work in telegraph. “So, suck eggs all you negative teachers. My keyboard skills actually paid off”.

After a few years, and a few career changes I took up an apprenticeship in “typography” and graduated from the Auckland Technical Institute to work in newspapers and later regional television. This was a booming time for technology. I experienced the transition from hot metal printing to “cold type”, and of course the advent of mobile phones. I recall when buying my first “brick”, the salesman asking, “what do you need this for?”. At the time they were considered a business only device, and probably a bit of a fad…. if only they’d known.

So ok, I’m now 21… the age I became a “technician”. How? While innocently going about my work, the boss turned around, pointed at me and said “Neil, has just resigned. You’re our new technician”. Apparently being a union member and the nearest male at the time, qualified me for the position. (yes! It was very sexist back then). I did well and became more interested in circuitry and pushing the old mainframes to do things beyond their specifications.
Fast forward. Moved to Victoria worked in Intellectual Disability as a trainer. Met my partner Trish and went back to NZ for 12 years where I finally got my “dream job”. Technician for the Department of Conservation for the top half of the South Island. I could finally “stretch my wings”. This job not only offered technical challenges, but I got to do some really cool stuff like saving whales on Farewell Spit, fighting forest fires and going on helicopter rides to the outer islands to assist with surveys, such as counting tuataras and frogs.

If you were to ask me what my worst job was, I’d have to say working for a council. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say. The culture was oppressive and frustrating to the extreme. But even so it was an invaluable life experience.
Once Trish and I had seen our kids leave the nest, we made our final move to Hervey Bay. Where I secured a position as Technician for Masterlink Computers, taking over as owner a few years later.

As a child we didn’t have money, we didn’t even have furniture – and asking for help just wasn’t done. But we were rich in other ways. When I was 6, dad went to Wellington Hospital for a heart operation. Mum managed to find the money to get us to Wellington, but we couldn’t afford anywhere to stay. So, we spent the night on a park bench. We had it tough, but even so they were good times, which I sometimes wish we could have back. My life to this point has been varied and interesting… so for me, “no complaints”.