It was nice meeting you, Te Awamutu 

Benjamin Wilson

Depending on how you read a newspaper, this could likely be the last piece written by me that you’ll ever read.

To put things bluntly, I am leaving the Te Awamutu News to focus on my work as freelance photographer, and the counselling degree that I am halfway through completing.

When I joined The News in January, I was excited to meet new people, learn new things, and share stories that deserved to be heard.

I encountered many challenges doing so, and the fierceness of the weekly news cycle took me a while to get used to, but I am proud to be able to say that I gave it my all.

Over the past 11 months I sent and received over 3500 emails on behalf of The News, drove 6300 kilometres, made hundreds of phone calls, and met twice as many people.

Coming from Hamilton, I was unsure of how I would be received in Te Awamutu. I was very unfamiliar of the Rosetown culture, and for the longest time had to ‘fake it until I made it’.

Thankfully, the incredible hospitality that was shown to me made this adaptation period much easier, and overall, it was an absolute pleasure.

The connections that I made during my time at The News will be forever cherished. There were people who took time out of their days to clue me in on extra context, caption photos, introduce me to others, and give me tips on upcoming stories, to all of you who helped make my life a little bit easier, thank you.

People sometimes shared incredibly poignant stories with me. It was my job to respect and represent those stories in a way that I thought best.

When I learned about what the workers from Metallic Sweeping had to endure, removing faeces and animal carcases from Waipā’s recycling, I distinctly remember wanting to make sure that everyone else knew what they were going through too, and inspire some kind of change to how people treated their recycling. In the end, I was pretty proud of the story that I produced

However, sometimes absolute tragedies were shared with me, and no amount of awareness or story telling could have made those situations any better. In those moments, I felt the urge to switch into ‘counsellor mode’. For obvious reasons, it pained me that this was not something I could do, and is partly responsible for my decision to leave The News.

It is going to be difficult for me to stop looking at everything from a journalistic viewpoint going forward, but at the same time, I am looking forward to it.

To all the people that I encountered over this past year, it was nice meeting you, and you will be missed.

Thanks for everything.

Benjamin Wilson, over and out.

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