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Chrissy Spence



Chrissy Spence is one of New Zealand’s few female arborists. Watch the slideshow below to see how she and her boss remove a tree from a suburban garden. Read on to discover how Chrissy got over her fear of heights while training as an arborist.

"I was scared of heights when I first started and had no clue about trees. My brother-in-law Rick was looking for more workers, and he rang me up saying, 'I've got a job opportunity for you'.

"Maybe he saw I could pick up on things quickly – I had done of lot of different jobs and then I'd need another challenge. But with tree work you never know from one day to the next what you are going to be doing, so it’s always a challenge."

"I was sitting in the truck with the guys on my first day, and they were saying ‘Wow – check that out!' They were buzzing out, and I was like, ‘What are you looking at?’

"And they were like, 'The tree and the power lines!’ and I was like, ‘Oh. OK.’

"Then I got into the rhythm of looking at trees and before you knew it, I'd be looking at trees the whole time. And it was like, ‘I’ve got the bug now!’ "

Rick would say, ‘Today you’re going to do this’ and I'd say, ‘If I die, my mum’s going to yell at you!’ But he’d always be there and I think he’s a really good teacher, so I’d be starting off and he’d say, ‘Keep going, you’re doing this right’. 

"I think I ended up focusing on all the other things – like, 'OK, am I clipped in properly?’ – and forgetting how high off the ground I was.

"I honestly thought I'd last two weeks. But I guess because I was always getting new challenges, and working with good guys, I kept at it."

"Some guys are a bit stand-offish, or come in and try and do all the big heavy jobs, but some say, ‘Wow, that is so cool’. So you do get positive stuff as well as negative."

"There are ways of manipulating the wood to get it from A to B. It’s certainly tiring on the body. I always keep up with my boss, but at night you just lie there and your body aches. 

"Some people do it forever but I’m actually looking for a new challenge. It’ll be outdoors, hopefully with animals, because I’ve never been in an office and can’t see myself being in an office."