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New home . . . Tourism Waitaki's new social and digital media specialist Cindy Mottelet (25) loves Oamaru's Victorian architecture. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Cindy Mottelet is Tourism Waitaki’s new social and digital media specialist. Rebecca Ryan chats to her about her new job, how she ended up in Oamaru and why she has fallen in love with the North Otago town.

Q Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Paris, in France. I didn’t travel much with my family, but when I was old enough and had enough money to start travelling on my own I got the travel bug. I’ve been to 26 countries now.

Q How did you end up in Oamaru?

I hitchhiked my way from Christchurch to Queenstown and the guy I was hitchhiking with wanted to stop at Steampunk HQ, because he was a big fan of Steampunk. We stopped there and I thought it looked like a pretty cute little town. I was living in Queenstown with my partner and for Christmas we wanted to get away. I said “maybe we should go to Oamaru”, because my partner had never been there, so we decided to come. We spent a weekend here and we just loved it so much that I thought “I would love to live here”. I looked online for jobs, found the Tourism Waitaki job, which perfectly fit my experience, so I applied, got the job and now we’re here.

Q And your partner, Lewis, is a personal trainer at Snap Fitness in Oamaru?

When I finished my interview with Tourism Waitaki, I really wanted the job, but I didn’t want to come here if he would lose his job in Queenstown as a personal trainer. So, we went to Snap Fitness Oamaru after the interview and they said they were looking for a male PT. So that was perfect timing – I think we were in the right place at the right time. So when I accepted the Tourism Waitaki job, I knew it was possible for him to have a job here, too.

Q What attracted you to the job at Tourism Waitaki? What’s your career background?

I have a masters degree in marketing. I worked in marketing studies for a year, and then I worked in the consumer goods industry for the Unilever group in France. Then, I worked in Australia for small companies doing online marketing – websites and stuff like that. Then I went back to France to finish my studies and I was really missing being abroad. I really liked the vibe I got in Australia and I didn’t want to work again in France. So I decided to come to New Zealand. I worked in Wellington for Fox & Co, a creative production studio, and I was doing their social media, website, all of their online marketing – that was great. Now, I really like working in online marketing, because all the trends are always moving so fast you’re always having to keep up to date and that makes it more interesting.

Q What does your role at Tourism Waitaki involve?

A lot of things – and that’s what I like. I’m in charge of all social media and websites. For social media, for example, I need to take photos – so I get to do photography as well. It covers the whole Waitaki district, so it’s about meeting people, going to events and trying to promote the whole district. We have different brands – Tourism Waitaki, Whitestone City, the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony – so I do the websites and social media for all of them. Every brand has a different identity, so you can’t have the same strategy for everything. That’s really interesting, and really busy, too.

Q What do you love about social and digital media?

I rediscovered social media in community engagement – and that’s amazing, that’s what I love the most about it. Responding to comments, sharing photos and really talking to people. Through social media, you can “virtually” meet and exchange with people who have the same interests as you, who you would never otherwise meet. You have to be careful to stay true to yourself, or the brand you’re doing it with. It’s about finding the right balance because, of course, you want it to work and to have followers, but for me it’s more about exchanging and meeting and talking to people in a more genuine way. Using it as a tool, but not a goal. In the Waitaki, community is huge and amazing.

Q You post some beautiful photos on your own Instagram – how did you get into photography?

At first, photography was more about having memories of my travelling. I never studied photography, but I bought a better camera, looked online for some tutorials and started learning more. Now, I really love photography and that’s why I love the job here – I get to take a lot of photos. The creativity in photography really interests me and has grown with me. I’m more into landscapes, and Waitaki is perfect for that, but when I was in Queenstown I started to work more on portraits. I love trying to capture expression, the natural stuff.

Q Where is next on your “to visit” list?

I haven’t been to South America. I love that culture of everyone together, eating and dancing a lot – I love salsa dancing, and all of the Latin dances. Now, I’m trying to take advantage of being on the other side of the world and all of the beautiful islands around here. But New Zealand is really a country I see myself living. I like the vibe, I like the culture, even the working culture, the people, the landscapes are just amazing. So I’m planning on sticking around.