When Simon Hewitt first came to the West Coast, it rained for 20 months straight. Battling through and believing he was “solar-powered”, this rain was a new challenge he hadn’t quite experienced before at his previous clinic in Darfield.
Simon is one of our large animal veterinarians and local owner at our Hokitika clinic. Seven years on from that 20-month-rain-welcome he had, we catch up with Simon to find out a little bit more.
Moving to the West Coast, how has that been?
We got the opportunity to move here from Canterbury in 2014. We had our own clinic there that we had sold on before making the jump over to the West. I always believe if you don’t try, you will never know. You know I’ve got friends that have never been over here and they don’t know how beautiful it is. If we were still in Darfield we would probably be in the same boat as them! It's a stunning part of the country and we are proud to be a part of it.
What is it like here?
You know, there is a big mentality over here of just “getting stuff done”. People are accepting of the limitations – partly due to the remoteness I think. But they have been very welcoming to us and our family and we love it here.
It wasn’t long ago that I was on a course in Auckland and was just stuck in traffic on Great North Road. Apart from wondering how they can be productive when the best part of your day is stuck in traffic, it's just not how life is supposed to be!
What do you love about the Coast?
I really like it. It can rain a lot, but we have come from out east in Canterbury which is super dry. It's amazing the transformation from the harsh dry environment to the rainforest here. I know where I would rather be.
What do you enjoy about being a vet here at Hokitika?
We have a great large animal vet team in Hokitika: Troy, Ariane and myself. We work hard at a lot of preventative work – vaccinating, teat sealing, transition plans etc. That means we can avoid serious problems further down the track.
We have some fantastic clients, and combining that with our team here, we are all working together towards common goals. It makes for a great working relationship.
The farmers here are very resilient and have a solid mindset of “it is what it is”, and getting on with practical solutions which I enjoy. I think the isolation of where we are here means we all just get on with it and turn up to help each other out when we need it. It's a great community to be a part of. We are here at West Coast Vets to make life easier for the farmers, not put up more barriers.
Working in the rural sector can have its challenges, what’s your advice for avoiding burnout?
We have definitely seen that in the industry.
If I have had a big day, you know getting up at 3.30 am or something – I love going for a bike ride after work and then I feel like I have had a good day. I'm a big believer in balance and knowing the pressure on our shoulders is shared amongst us all. Going into the bush and there are keas flying around and fat wood pigeons in the trees. It's just amazing. Exercise can do wonders.
We are in a stunning area so it's easy to make the most of what you've got around you: bush, l lakes, mountains and sea – we have all this on our doorstep so ensure you spend the time to enjoy it. We all work hard so we have to make sure we are enjoying life too.
Here at WCV, we also make sure to balance out on-call weekend work with a long weekend the next week. Simple practices like that make sure we aren’t piling on the pressure and making sure our team can get that work/life balance dialled. So getting out and doing stuff is important, and getting away from work. For me too, it's important to take time for a chat, and build relationships. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved – so it's really important to me to check in with others. And it's always great to share a few laughs and a beer too!