15 February 2018
NPDC engineer Paula Wright’s last two jobs had 76 degrees of separation.
Mrs Wright joined NPDC last year after working across the world – including the frozen wastes of Canada (-33 degrees Celsius) to the scorching deserts of Australia (+43C).
Originally from Opunake, she’s now bringing her wealth of experience to her role at NPDC as the manager for infrastructure projects like the Waitara stormwater.
“In the Northwest Territories where I was working on a water treatment plant upgrade, we were in minus-33 degree Celsius temperatures,” says Mrs Wright.
“When I wanted to go for a run, I would have to run up and down the airstrip, as the locals had warned me about the wolves in the bush if I ran out of town!”
The temperature gauge shot the other way when Mrs Wright started her previous job in Western Australia on multi-million-dollar upgrades to wastewater treatment plants. However she still had to watch out for the local wildlife.
“Commissioning on site, we had a lot of little small covered pits for underground valves. We would constantly would find baby brown snakes in them. These are one of the top 10 most venomous snakes in Australia!”
Mrs Wright has also worked in Malaysia but her and husband Jonathan, from Perth, decided to come back to New Zealand to be closer to Paula’s family. “We are really loving the lifestyle here, being able to get home so quickly, going for lunch time runs in the park, surfing, hiking, mountain biking, kite surfing, and everything is so close and easy to do. Plus the commute is five minutes as opposed to 40 to 90 minutes.”
Mrs Wright also finds it easier to get around in Taranaki. “Transporting one of the modular Water Treatment Plants to site in Canada required transporting it on ice roads (over a frozen lake). We had to make sure the water treatment plant was ready on time as there was only a short window when the ice is thick enough to drive over.
“I also saw bison and lynx while driving to a site – it’s a bit tamer here where I’ve been working on the otters’ enclosure at NPDC’s Brooklands Zoo!
“The budgets here in New Plymouth District are smaller but the project requirements are the same as in northern Canada or the Australian desert: getting a good result for the community with close attention to budgets, keeping people safe and caring for the environment,” she says.
“We were delighted that someone with Paula’s experience of working across the world joined us to bring her expertise to NPDC so we continue to deliver the best services for our community,” says NPDC External Relations Manager Jacqueline Baker.