Born and bred in Oamaru, Kara Cox has an interesting CV. After attending Enfield Primary School, then St Kevin’s College, she headed south to study, and ended up working and travelling all over the world. Now, she lives on her family farm in Oamaru with her husband Craig, who is also from North Otago. Gus Patterson stops in at St John Oamaru, were she works as an area administrator when she is not working on projects for her videography business, Kara Jane Visuals.
Q How are you enjoying life in Oamaru?
It’s pretty special being able to live where I grew up. I loved growing up here as a kid. In my teenage years I couldn’t wait to be old enough to get out of Oamaru, but as an adult I’ve come to appreciate our wee town and living back here is pretty great. There’s a lot happening here. It also has a super supportive business community, which I find really refreshing.
Q What did you do when you left school?
I studied photography at the Design and Arts College in Dunedin. I studied there for two years and walked away with a Diploma in Contemporary Photography. After travelling, I stumbled upon videography after photographing a friend’s wedding and meeting the videographer there. About a month later, I was enrolled to do a Diploma in Digital Film through the Southern Institute of Technology and one year later Kara Jane Visuals was born.
Q And then you ended up travelling the world as a woolhandler, how did that come about?
After I finished my studies in 2007 I didn’t have a solid plan, so I moved back home. I tried my hand at fencing with my dad, but only lasted a week. Then, a job came up as a wool handler for Owen Rowland and, despite having no experience, I figured I might as well give it a go. I don’t think anyone thought I was going to make it in the sheds, but I came good and I met my now husband Craig Cox in the sheds – so romantic! Craig was heading off to America in 2008 to shear and one of the roustabouts pulled out, so there was a spot for me to go, too. At 21-years-old with my new boyfriend, I went along to see what the world would offer. We worked in America, England, Scotland, Sardinia and Australia, but would come home each summer for the main shear – and, of course, there were lots of holidays in between. It was four amazing years.
Q What were some of the highlights?
Travelling Europe at the end of a shearing season was a highlight. We made it all around Italy, the south of France, Slovenia and Croatia. Slowing down and enjoying the ride was the best way to do it. We didn’t see all the countries we planned, but there’s always time for another holiday. Working in Wyoming was another highlight – and it was certainly character building. Working hard in freezing conditions for days on end was both exhausting and amazing at the same time. The people I met along the way were awesome and it was always nice to go back to the ranch the following year and be welcomed back like no time had passed.
Q Back to your first love, videography, how did you get back into that and get the lanolin out of your system?
To be honest, I don’t know if you ever get the lanolin out of your system – I can’t count the amount of times I’ve retired from the sheds but made it back for one reason or another. But videography is 100% my passion these days. I mainly do weddings, but I have been able to do some amazing commercial projects as well. The thing that draws me to this job and makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning and do it is that I genuinely just love people. You can take away so much from a small clip of a film – watching moments unfold through video offers such a raw and emotive feeling, whether it’s a tear, a hug, a laugh or just human connection.
Q Also, I hear you have a new job for St John – what does that role involve and how are you enjoying it?
I started a part-time role as the area administrator for St John Oamaru at the start of this year. I’m still finding my feet, but so far it’s been a blast. I’ve met some awesome people and been involved in some really cool projects. It’s a great role and has the flexibility to work in with my business, which is perfect for me right now. I never really knew much about St John before I started working there, but it’s such an amazing organisation full of passionate and hard-working people. It actually blows me away how amazing our team is here in Oamaru. They are some of the best people and Oamaru is super lucky to have such a dedicated team looking after them. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the year brings with this role.