The quiet revolution-older workers as employees, employers, self employed and unpaid workers
NZiRA/ Tower 2004 Seminar Series, 23 November 2004
Dr Judy McGregor, EEO Commissioner, Human Rights Commission
Koutou nga rangatira maha
E mihi ana ki a koutou
Kua hui mai nei I tenei ra
Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui
Tena koutou, kia ora tatou
I have just finished the last of twelve interviews with older workers in New Zealand for a book that I hope will be published next year. The New Zealanders featured in the book are employees, employers and self employed. They range in age from 74 to 95 years old. The aim of the book is to reveal a largely unacknowledged and unheralded employment pattern among many older New Zealanders. This is the idea that there is a pattern of life with work that is inextricably bound up in giving lives meaning, material rewards and a sense of belonging. I have tentatively named the book “Lifeswork” and I would like to introduce three pen portraits to set the scene for my remarks today.
Please meet Dr Betty Flint who at 95 years old is a world authority on desmids, which are tiny water algae that give clues to water quality. Betty drives her 1958 original one lady driver Ford Consul to and from Fendalton in Christchurch city to Landcare at Lincoln University, twice a week to undertake research. Ironically Betty’s lifeswork has assumed a new urgency. World wide the sustainability of water is a critical environmental issue. Water has become the new gold.
Please meet Pat Dawson, who has one of the toughest jobs I can possibly imagine. At 78 years old she is a truancy officer in the Foxton area committed to the view that all New Zealand children should be at school everyday to develop their potential and that families should take more responsibility for truancy. One of the worst aspects of her job, she says, are dogs who make home visits riskier.
And meet John Bevan Ford, the renowned Māori artist who at 74 years old, brings an amazing enthusiasm for his art, often working seven days a week on his beautifully intricate paper drawings, carpet designs, and giant