Our people and their mahi
In an ongoing series meeting 'our people', we chat to environmental health officer Kelly Hosking about her mahi in protecting public health. . .
What is your job and what does it involve?
I’m an environmental health officer - we are essentially the public health section of Council, working under environmental health-related laws and regulations to protect public health.
This work is varied but most of my time is spent working with food and alcohol licensed premises, monitoring events, inspecting campgrounds and businesses registered with Council to trade. We provide guidance to customers and deal with any environmental health-related issues that often come to us as a complaint or as a result of something going wrong. These include insanitary housing, wastewater issues, noise, water-quality, odour and dust issues, spills, pollution incidents, food complaints, and anything else that causes nuisance - chances are it will come to us!
What do you enjoy about the job?
Every day is different, there is always an opportunity to use our skills to investigate an issue or solve a problem. Living and working in Gisborne is the best part of the job, it takes me all over the district working with customers from Matawai to Lottin Point and everywhere in between. Working with the community, interacting with people and seeing ideas grow into success are aspects I feel lucky to do every day.
Moving back to Awarua with the rest of the Council team this year has been a bonus – it is a beautiful space to work in and the staff at Council are a great bunch of people to work with and share a laugh with too.
What are the challenges of the job?
It’s busy! Balancing good customer service with enforcement is something we have to do well to ensure the best outcome for all parties while maintaining positive relationships.
A recent challenge has been legislation changes. Because our work is driven by legislation, when there is a change (such as the Food Act 2014) we have to adapt, upskill and adjust how we do things. This includes informing and assisting our customers through the changes, which are not always easy. However, we work well as a team and together we make it work.
How could the public make it easier for you to get the job done?
Have realistic expectations about what we can and can’t do for you. Some things take time to work through and how we respond is usually determined by legislation - this means that what the customer wants is not always possible to achieve. In saying that, if you have an issue or see something that we need to know about, don’t be shy to call or email Council when it arises, rather than waiting until the situation escalates. If it’s not something we can help with directly, we can often refer you to the right people or agencies who can.
How do you like to spend your time out of the council?
When I’m not at work I’m usually at the beach or enjoying the outdoors with my family. I have a few creative projects on the go and enjoy gardening. I’m also doing some home-based study at the moment and when I’m not doing that I usually have a stack of books that I’m reading my way through!