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Leaving on a jet plane . . . Proud Waimate product Gus Patterson. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

This week we farewell reporter Gus Patterson from the Oamaru Mail. He reflects on his time here and thanks readers before he heads off to Australia to be with his partner, Abby.

I used to think community was a lame word.

But since I started working at the Oamaru Mail in March last year, I have learnt how important it is.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, community is “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common”.

But I think, in this district at least, it refers to the interconnectedness of everyone.

Today is my last day at the Mail. I am (hopefully, in this Covid-19 world) moving to Melbourne to be with my partner, Abby, who works as a nurse there.

This community is one of the things I will miss most.

I love how everyone is only a few connections away from each other, seeing the same people on the street, or playing different sporting codes with them.

A proud Waimate man, to me Oamaru was always an irritatingly long 50kmh zone on the way to Dunedin.

But now I know how much it has going for it.

People are willing to give things a go and get involved in things (it is contagious!) and the landscape is world-class.

I will also miss all the people involved in producing the Mail. I got into the industry thinking it was all liquid lunches and clandestine meetings, but it is bloody tough to put out a paper every week.

As much as people love to complain about how their free paper was not delivered, or why the puzzle page was missing some weeks, I think and hope people appreciate having a dedicated team covering what happens locally.

Because ultimately, that has more relevance to everyone’s lives, and I think people are realising the benefits of having an editing process rather than the opinion-driven “news” of social media.

A huge amount of credit goes to editor Rebecca Ryan who, despite wasting countless hours having to explain the importance of good spelling and how to use apostrophes correctly, still manages to make time to shoot hoops and write songs.

Everyone in the office – in editorial and advertising – has been so willing to help me and I will miss the family feel and the fun.

Thanks also to all of my contacts throughout the community who have been forthcoming with information, and shared some great yarns along the way.

A lot of trust is involved in telling someone your story and not getting to see it until it is published.

My favourite part of the job is getting to talk to people about what they are passionate about. It can be a challenge to sum it up the right way, and I have definitely made mistakes, but it is fulfilling and a real privilege.

And it is still a cool feeling to see a paper come together every week, no matter how unlikely it was looking on Monday.

So thank you, everyone – and see you when I am back.