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Richard Burtenshaw

Gardener

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The "howling winds and frosts" of Christchurch winters don’t bother gardener Richard Burtenshaw. Maybe that's because he's always enjoyed the outdoors – or perhaps because he was brought up in Invercargill.

In fact, as far as his job goes, winter is Richard’s favourite season. "It’s quiet. It’s good to be able to sit back and see what you can plan for coming events. Spring is pretty busy, so during winter I’m seeing things and thinking, 'I’ll get that done now before spring, or I’ll have no chance'."

Richard is a working foreman at City Care, a company that manages projects and maintenance for city councils. His team is in charge of council gardens, parks, cemeteries and roadside plantings. The team has strict standards to meet, so Richard's aim is to keep everything looking spick and span.

"My goal is to have things looking tidier, and our audit results coming back looking spotless. They audit the parks and you get a number between zero and 13. You get points off for having weeds too high, grass too long, or rubbish in the park.

"I run the whole garden parks team, so I’ve got to make sure they’re doing their job. I go around and check where they are working. If I don’t think they’ve done something right, I’ll send them back to fix that particular part of the garden up."

"The challenge of being a foreman, in charge of staff, is keeping them ticking along and keeping them happy – being sure they are doing the work, without them feeling you are on their toes all the time. 

"We work in the city’s premier parks, so we don’t want the standard to go down."

And there are plenty of people noticing how well the parks are maintained. "The most satisfaction comes from people coming up and saying, ‘You’re keeping things looking tidy – I’ve noticed a difference in your park'."

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