FIFO - fly in, fly out. The term used for workers who fly away to work (more commonly to mine sites). And this pretty much sums up my first experience!
I started off in great form: went to check in for my flight… aaaaand wrong airport.. “where are you going?” the nice lady behind the counter asks “- DeGrussa” I say. “Do you usually fly from here?” “- Yeah.. .. . …. “ (acting cool but really, awkwardly trying to act like this wasn’t my first time flying out) She pointed me in the right direction, an airport just down the road. Haha oh boy I was outta there real quick! Checked into the correct terminal, got my boarding pass then off I went.
Standard flight, but midway through I realised I’d left my headphones at home, oh boy this was gonna be a looooooong week.
Got off the plane, expected a pōhiri (welcome) of some sort, or at least one person to point me in the right direction. Nope. Been on the ground for 4minutes and zero new friends.. I must've missed the memo because everyone else from the plane crossed a dirt road and disappeared behind the scrub, but I’ve heard stories of the Aussie outback so I wasn’t too sure whether to follow or not, I kinda like my life. About 10 minutes later people began emerging from the path on their way to the airstrip, so this must be the way to the campsite and NOT Death Valley by snakes, spiders or KO by Kangaroo. Ya never know..
500m which felt like 2km later, I found home sweet home for the next week! DeGrussa campsite, home to my new whānau, the hardworking women and men at Sandfire Copper and Gold mine.
I felt like a kid at Christmas! A new place, all shiny and different. There was a basketball court, gym (kitted out pretty good too), golf simulator, bar, rec room and not another sight of civilisation for miles. If it was near a beach or river, it’d be paradise.
The mahi (work) was easy. I got put into house keeping which meant cleaning room, after room, after room….. after room. The rooms are cleaned each week right, but man some had me thinking ‘how is it even possible to get this dirty in this little time.. are you trying to make as big of a mess as possible..? Dirty humans. Then there were rooms where you couldn’t tell anyone had been in because they were so clean - the majority were tidy enough though which was good.
But boy was it a tough job. Like a crossfit workout, oh my life, AMRAP (as many rooms as possible) in 10 hours. I was there for 9 days all up and this would be in the top 3 of times I've almost had abs ever in my life haha seriously though, house keeping is hard work and anyone who says otherwise probably hasn’t done it before and can shut up. A mundane and boring job, but it gave me tons of time to think - one of the more frequent whakaaro (thoughts) was; how did I end up here? Me, Hana Tapiata trying to make something of herself, descendant of great chiefs and goddesses… I’m here. Then my little brain does this thing where it goes into brainstorm mode and splashes out all the different theories and one of my most favourite and humbling is:
Why not you? What’s so special about you that you “shouldn’t” be doing this type of work.. would you rather it be someone else?
I also reckon it says a lot about a person who can do a job they don't like and do it well. I try my best at everything I do and trust me I'm terrible at a lot but I still try my best. While I was feeling pity for myself and my situation I had to laugh when I realised almost every other cleaner or worker there would probably rather be somewhere else. Yeah I descend from gods but that doesn't mean I can't work hard, do what I have to do to support my whānau or humble myself to do mahi I don't think I should do. I don’t mind the mahi so much because I know it’s not where I’m going to end up for the rest of my life. It’s something for right now, a means to an end, a side project that doesn’t require too much brain function so I can still focus on my goals and aspirations and that pays the bills. Whereas some people here, have reached later in their life and this is all they’ve got - no disrespect of course, it’s a honourable position and has already been a great teacher to me. But house keeping as a career? A life goal to aspire to? I’m pretty sure everyone who was ever born came into the world to give more than that.
I think a lot on a normal day at home, so having 10 hours to occupy my brain while my body worked gave me loooooooaaaads of time to think. Not too sure if that's a good thing haha but one which pulled at my heart was how I’m working at a place that generates income by stealing the heart of Te Fiti (Moana reference, lol sorry.. had to), by tearing up Papatuanuku, Mother Earth.. It’ll be an ongoing conflict I reckon, with many different perspectives;
The company rehabilitate the land. They do their work, get what they want out of the earth, then complete a process to return the land to how it used to be (inception; how can it go back to how it used to be with the metals or gas etc.extracted...)
The mining business isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, unfortunately. Corporations put SO much money (it's seriously ridiculous) into exploring new sections of land, extracting the minerals/metals, processing, selling.. then there’s so many other departments and contractors involved. So if it isn't me in this position, there are hundreds waiting to fly out
Maybe this opportunity is a recon mission the Order of the Phoenix forgot to tell me about and I'm on a mission to shut the whole operation down...
Some whakaaro (thoughts) are productive and useful while some others are the result of sleep deprivation. I take what I can get. Apart from the early starts, mine site life is pretty cool. All the meals are prepared for us - oh man the food is so good! So many options, and ice cream on tap 24/7 it's dangerous... The rooms are cleaned weekly, so all we have to do is make sure we wake up and go to work and everything else is taken care of. Not too bad. But what I was struggling with, was why doesn’t anyone want to be my friend? I’m not intimidating, not the worst looking and I’ve said hi to everyone I walk past.. but its limited to just that, ‘hi.’ After talking to one of the other girls there about it, she highlighted how we’re casual workers who typically go to a different site each rotation. We probably won’t see these people again, so what’s the point in building a relationship.. It dampened my spirits a little bit but there was truth to it I guess. So that’s great, 7 days 13 hours and still no new friends.. 1 more day, there's still hope..
Last thing, which got under my skin was how almost everyone I walked past and said hi to would reply with “Hey how ya doing” and keep walking past. “ Oh I’m good thanks, how are y…..” I start to reply when I notice they aren’t actually interested in how I’m doing and have kept walking past me…. why blingn ask then??! Goodness me. Ask me how I am - wait for me to tell you then! Don’t play with my feelings like that, are you making an effort to be my friend or do you not know what “hi how ya doing“ means?? Aussies for ya..