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Gardening Good for the Soul

4 Jun 2020

Gardening Good for the Soul

Ethan Dunn may only be new to his job but he says it is already bringing plenty of enjoyment and setting him up well for the future.

A casualty of COVID-19, Ethan lost his kiwifruit-picking job early on so decided to study a horticulture course to keep himself busy and learning. He also delved into the Work and Income NZ job site and saw the Council gardening job as part of the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme.

“I was really excited to see it and it was the only job I applied for,” said the former New Zealand beach volleyball representative. He was one of the first redeployed workers to start across the whole programme and is loving it. “This is something I have a real interest in and am able to gain so much from. The work complements my study so I am retaining information from both sides which are both so relevant.”

Ethan sees his course and work as important self-development. “Everyone should learn how to tend a garden and grow your own fruit and vegetables.” He has fond childhood memories of picking plums, avocados and passionfruit.

His work means he is also looking at the city gardens through quite different eyes. “I recognise there is just so much to see.”

Ethan has always been one to explore and seek knowledge. As a child he was always asking questions and as an adult he has a huge appreciation for a holistic view of life, loving music, academia, sport and fitness. “This is another stepping stone in my own development and is the most enjoyment I have had in a job.”

Council gardening team leader Maria Belen Ballester says as soon as she interviewed Ethan she felt he would be a good fit for her team. “That is so important for me,” says Maria. “I was looking for someone with experience who is keen to learn . . . and I love to share what I know.”

With many gardens throughout the city, there is always a focus on ensuring plantings that make people smile. “I try to make happy gardens for everyone and having a good team is the key to that.”

Last year Ethan lived in an ashram in Golden Bay. “It was like a community of yogis and I did a lot of gardening, yoga, meditation and music and it really did spark my interest in plants.”



Gisborne District Council gardening team leader Maria Belen Ballester with Ethan Dunn who is part of the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme. Photo by The Black Balloon