For Waitaki’s new community recovery co-ordinator, the new role is the perfect combination of “all the hats she has worn from past jobs”.
Marianne Korten was appointed to the one-year, fixed-term role in September.
The role was established, within the framework of Safer Waitaki, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the purpose of collecting data and to research funding options in relation to its effects on the district.
“So the impact of Covid on our community was of course very visible, and this role has been created to support the community and to help them stay healthy and well and continue their lives as much as possible.”
Ms Korten hails from the Netherlands and first visited New Zealand with her partner Erwin Matheeuwsen in 2018.
The pair were separated for six months due to border closures, while Ms Korten visited her sick mother in the Netherlands and her partner carried out house-sitting commitments in the South Island, she said.
She managed to return to New Zealand in August, and said her new job came along just at the right time.
Her previous job was in Sydney as head of data research for the International Convention Centre.
“In the past I have worn many, many hats.
“I’ve worked for not-for-profits in Australia. I worked for the Public Health Association. I worked for the Australian College of Nursing and all those roles related to providing benefits for its members.
“The data research background I have, that’s another hat I was wearing, and that will help with collecting wellbeing data for the Waitaki district.”
Waitaki was a close-knit community, and she was impressed by the Safer Waitaki coalition network of “many, many organisations that are already focused on the community and what their needs are”.
“That includes also the police and government departments and businesses. And no matter what happens, the group gets together – for instance with the fires at Ohau – all the emergency departments, they all work together for the people in need.
“I think that’s one of the strengths why Waitaki, while it is impacted by Covid, but step by step we’re trying to rise above it.
“I’m sure there will be many more challenging times, but every little bit helps and that’s why my role is, I think, very interesting.”
As the role was in its infancy, Ms Korten was still in the phase of collecting data, before she could begin analysing it to identify the areas of most need.
“I try to create a framework where we can find that data and compare it, and how are we doing regionally and how are we doing compared to New Zealand as a whole,” she said.
“That could be as simple as how are the elderly doing in society? How are the youth doing with mental health issues?
“I am very happy with the support I get from the networks within the district. Within Safer Waitaki they help with collecting that data, so in the end we know where we need to support people more.
“The data, the funding and the people. It’s a beautiful triangle.
“I feel like I’m double lucky. I’ve found a job in a beautiful region.”