People raised in Oamaru are returning after leaving town to further their education and begin their careers. One of them is North Otago Pharmacy pharmacist Erica Simpson. Reporter Sally Brooker catches up with her.
Q I understand you’ve moved back to your home town permanently. What prompted that decision?
I was previously living on the West Coast, which I loved. After losing a close family member I decided I needed to come back down south to be closer to my family. I originally came back as a locum and found I enjoyed being back in my home town. I was then lucky enough to be offered full-time work, so here I am.
Q What was the reaction of your friends and family?
My family was happy to have me closer. Some of my friends couldn’t understand it, but I’m a small-town girl at heart. After being away for several years, you definitely realise how good it is here.
Q What changes do you notice most since you were growing up here?
The town has grown a lot. The historic area and around the harbour in particular have become great assets, and I often tell visitors to go down there. I’ve also noticed a lot of people moving here from larger cities and setting up great businesses, which I think is awesome for our town.
Q What have you done since finishing at Waitaki Girls’ High School in 2007?
When I left school I headed to Otago University to study pharmacy. I then came back to Oamaru for a couple of years to complete my training to become a pharmacist. I have travelled overseas a few times, and am currently trying to control the travel bug that seems to have bitten me.
Q What would your advice be to school leavers today?
It is tough to decide what to do when you leave school. Don’t be afraid to look outside the box and do what interests you. University isn’t the be-all and end-all; there are some great opportunities in trades and with businesses who are willing to offer on-the-job training.
Q Do you have plans to buy a house and take up new leisure interests?
I own a little house here in Oamaru, which I am loving. It has become a bit of a project now, so I am spending a lot of time getting that sorted.
Q Which person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?
I would give anything to have dinner with my dad again – I miss our Friday-night beer and debrief immensely.
Q If you were prime minister for a day, what would be your first action?
I would revamp the tax system for people who are working more than one job. I don’t believe that hardworking people who are trying to get ahead should be penalised for it.