Lisa Scott is a new face at the Waitaki District Council but she is familiar to readers of various newspapers and magazines. The effervescent writer turned communications specialist tells Hayden Meikle why she fell in love with this place.
Q: How have you enjoyed your first couple of weeks in the new job?
I said to somebody it was like when you’re biking along and you drop something into the gears of your bike and it kind of goes “graunncch”. I think it’s like that for everybody on all sides. It’s a huge change because I’ve been working by and for myself, predominantly, for the last 11 years. I’ve had to get used to working in an office, and I talk to myself a lot, and I’m really noisy. I’ve lost some of that autonomy – it’s not about me any more but about a much larger organisation.
Q: What is the main thrust of your role at the council?
Communications. It takes in social media, print media, how we consult with the public and our corporate face. It also takes in our geopark and push for Unesco status. We’re refining our communications and social media strategies right now. We want to be really human, answer truthfully, apologise for our mistakes and be expedient with our information.
Q: What brings you to the Waitaki district?
Q: Tell me more.
I’ve fallen in love with a man who lives here. So I had no choice but to live here. And during our courting period, I went tramping and paddleboarding and snowboarding all over the district, and fell in love with that as well. So I’ve followed my heart.
Q: The “Mighty Mountain Man” featured prominently in your column in the Otago Daily Times. How does he feel about you writing about him? (Disclosure: The MMM and the editor are cousins.)
He’s very pleased I am no longer writing about him in the ODT, ha ha. And I have to say his uncle was very disappointed that there would be no more stories about him. Actually, I’m happy to say some work that we did last year – a series where he took the photos and I wrote the text – is a finalist for a magazine publishers award. He’s absolutely over the moon about that, and has insisted I need to start paying for his photos!
Q: What do you love about the Waitaki district?
First off, the people. I noticed Oamaru is a place where complete strangers say hello to you on the street. People here are just a lot more open. It’s not that Dunedinites are dour, but I’ve found Oamaruvians are more likely to say yes than no. They’re really positive.
Q: Favourite place here?
Kakanui. Absolutely love it. Campbells Bay, oh my god. The loveliest surf break I’ve ever been to. We spent just about every evening of last summer there. Everyone would bob out in the water and gossip, catch a wave, and come back to the beach. We are so lucky having that here.
Q: What is your background?
I’m from a big Irish Catholic family from the West Coast. I grew up there until we moved to Dunedin when I was 8, and I’ve been there pretty much since then. I have a sister, and a grown-up daughter, Sophia, who is 26. She’s a weightlifter. You wouldn’t mess with her.
Q: What’s your work history?
I’ve been really lucky. I went to teachers’ college, and the world is a lucky place I am not a teacher, ha ha. I hopped into a job at the Fortune Theatre as marketing manager. I absolutely loved that, and I learned how to respond in a crisis and to take whatever life throws at you. Then I was marketing manager at the University of Otago for a while, and I went overseas. When I came back to Dunedin in 2009, there were no jobs, so I started writing my ODT column, and that branched out to Next and North and South
Q: How do you describe your writing?
I’m super, super nosy. Writers are the ones leaning up against a wall, listening for a juicy phrase, and they borrow other people’s ideas. I’m not a JK Rowling – trains and wizards and dragons. I just write about my life, and about the lives of New Zealand women. We go through tough times, and we struggle, and we have divorces and lovers and all of that stuff, and that makes it real, if you’re brave enough to talk about it. People say, “Oh, you’re so brave”, but what they mean is, “Good lord, I would not have put that in the paper”.
Q: Favourite movie?
Probably Atonement. I thought that was a really good making of the book. I cried and cried through the book, and I cried and cried through the movie.
Q: And if you are doing a road trip through the Waitaki district with the Mighty Mountain Man, what is playing on the radio?
We’ve been listening to a lot of Talking Heads right now, because we’re going to the David Byrne concert in November. And She Was. And my absolute favourite song is This Must Be The Place
Q: This must be the place, then?
Oh, ha ha ha. What are the chances? I listen to that when I walk down the hill to work now.