Ze­spri schol­ar­ship for Kel­cie

Waihi Leader - - News -

A Paeroa-based stu­dent has picked up a new $15,000 Ze­spri schol­ar­ship, thanks to her com­mit­ment to safer, more healthy work­places.

First year Massey Uni­ver­sity health sciences stu­dent Kel­cie Mills was awarded the ki­wifruit mar­ket­ing com­pany’s in­au­gu­ral three-year schol­ar­ship af­ter sub­mit­ting an es­say out­lin­ing the far­reach­ing ef­fects of im­proved work­place health and safety prac­tices in New Zealand.

The 19-year-old’s win­ning es­say de­scribes an alarm­ing num­ber of in­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties in New Zealand work­places and main­tains ad­dress­ing these is­sues would in turn cre­ate more en­gaged, pro­duc­tive work­ers, with higher morale.

“Health is now be­ing iden­ti­fied as more than just phys­i­cal,” she says.

“You can’t cover emo­tions with a hard hat and ear­muffs and hope for the best.”

Ms Mills had started a busi­ness man­age­ment de­gree when work­place ex­pe­ri­ence led her to change tack. She is now work­ing at Hau­raki District Coun­cil while study­ing ex­tra­mu­rally, aim­ing for a dou­ble ma­jor in oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal health.

“Af­ter re­al­is­ing I had more of a ‘want to help’ mind then a ‘money mak­ing’ mind, I fig­ured that per­haps busi­ness man­age­ment was not the ca­reer path for me.

“It is hard to un­der­stand how New Zealand busi­ness cul­ture could be im­pas­sive about im­prov­ing their health and safety.”

Ze­spri will award Ms Mills $5000 per year over the next three years, while she com­pletes her de­gree. Ze­spri’s Chief Grower & Al­liances Of­fi­cer Dave Court­ney says his team was im­pressed with Ms Mills’ ob­vi­ous pas­sion for her cho­sen field of study.

“Kel­cie demon­strated con­sid­er­able com­mit­ment and huge en­thu­si­asm for a sub­ject that is re­ally im­por­tant for us,” Mr Court­ney says. “Her goal is to be­come the kind of ap­proach­able, knowl­edge­able per­son who can em­pathise with work­ers while im­prov­ing their work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. That’s ex­actly the kind of at­ti­tude we are ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing in our own in­dus­try.”

In Oc­to­ber 2017, Ze­spri and WorkSafe NZ fi­nalised de­tails of an en­force­able agree­ment that aims to raise health and safety stan­dards in the ki­wifruit in­dus­try.

The schol­ar­ship is part of this pro­gramme. Ze­spri is rolling out a se­ries of ini­tia­tives to sup­port ef­forts to im­prove work­place health and safety in the New Zealand ki­wifruit in­dus­try and be­yond, into the broader com­mu­nity.

PHOTO / SUP­PLIED.

Kel­cie Mills of Paeroa was awarded a schol­ar­ship for her re­search on health and safety in work­places.

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