Windy Ridge Boys' Farm

Sharing A Passion For Literacy For All

Who am I?

Matt Swinburn, 55 years old, Pakeha, grew up in Titirangi, Auckland (hugging trees and chopping them down too), bit of a handful - sent away to boarding school in Hamilton (St Paul's Collegiate), did well academically so went to Otago Uni to do Med Intermediate (like my Dad), unlike my Dad chucked it in and took ten years off. I traveled around NZ, picked fruit and did about 40 other jobs but only for enough money to live sparsely on (my parents grew up in the Depression).

I ended up in Marlborough Sounds being a hermit, quite content but thought maybe I could see the rest of the world, but get a qualification so I could work in Europe etc. So I did Mechanical Engineering at Auckland Uni. By then there were a lot of other subjects I was interested in – this was practical and, well, I like making things and perhaps I could help develop sustainable ideas.

But engineering in NZ is big business orientated. Small companies come and go so I was unemployed quite often, now I contract. In 2009 I had a job but work got slow so I went to Training College. By the end of the year there was a glut of experienced teachers, but then I picked up some good engineering work and I have been busy for the last three years. I never did go overseas, except all over Australia for work, so my trip to Samoa was really breaking out. I took my 14 year old son, Thomas, and hey! I got to give a lesson about NZ in a village school. Thomas got them to do a role-play election. The students were much better dressed than I was.

I'm now more interested in alternative education, the ones that escape the system. I hope to work part time in education, even voluntary, and part time in engineering. I'm not sure that I would fit into the school system, but this could happen one day.

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