Story: The New Zealand bush

City slicker

City slicker

Shelley Bennet spent 40 years working in the bush, and became expert at climbing trees and lopping off branches. But back in 1947, it was a bit of a shock when he met his workmates.

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Contributed by Shelley Bennet of Greymouth.

I came back from the war in ’45, spent a year at my old job as a clerk in the railway, but I couldn’t hack it. I did a trip to the West Coast, and there I spied a nice empty house. I contacted the owner and asked if I could rent it. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but you’ll have to work for us.’

‘Doing what?’

‘Working in the bush.’

So it was. I was reasonably young and fit, but not nearly fit enough for bush work. I was in a gang of three cutting a ‘cable’ track. I had to sight three pointed sticks stuck in the ground to get the track straight. It took two days.

I asked the boss if I could do the next track and he said ‘Go for it’. Coming from the air force, I still had my compass. The track took me two hours.

Then came the abuse: CITY SLICKER, SMART ALEC, etc.

Going into the bush, especially on the West Coast, was the best move I had ever made. Great people, great workmates!

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'The New Zealand bush - Interesting encounters', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 9 December 2021)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 24 Sep 2007