History of NZ – 1999

In 1999 I arrived in New Zealand on the 21st of January 1999 believing that God had directed me to join Lifeway, based in Snells Beach. The details of this are a story in themselves so I won’t go into that here. When I arrived my first six months were enjoyed as a student on the Certificate in Evangelism (CE) course.

After my first brief tour of New Zealand, I returned to join up with Walter Scheer and the Evangelism team. We were different to the College team but worked together closely.

As part of this team I would like to say I struggled valiantly with the administrative tasks I was assigned. Bogged down in paperwork, the only thing I struggled with was keeping my head above water! I discovered one thing during this time – I hate paperwork!!

Over time I turned to other things. Creating a student records database and remaking the Lifeway website. Database building wasn’t my thing either and the huge task consumed all of my days and nights right into 2000.

Nonetheless, these were exciting times. Walter and I became good friends and together we terrorised the local fish population with our spearfishing.

We seemed to be a dynamic duo, after all, during this time we also managed to sink Eric Vandy’s boat – with Eric onboard (sorry Eric), shoot a bullet through dad’s car – with me in it (sorry about the hole dad), and went possum, deer and goat hunting together. Generally, we caused havoc in a fun way.

I learnt much off Walter, and it was his influence that caused such radical growth in my life. He is a solid friend whom I am glad I got to meet.

By the end of 1999 everyone was celebrating the dawn of the new millennium.

Lifeway also celebrated by organising Gateway 2000 held in Gisborne. I helped in the organisation of it too, although given my poor history of administration, something alternative needed to be found for me. My role became “IT”, the fix it guy where I fixed anything that went wrong as fast as possible using anything available to me. I may have been known as Mr. No.8 Wire, but “IT” was easier to say.

Gateway 2000 incorporated some high profile speakers and plenty of family based events, and initiated events of reconciliation between Maori and Pakeha (Europeans). With such a huge event, it was grueling work at times, and staying up all night for the sunrise paid its toll. But it remains as one of the highlights of my time in New Zealand.

History of NZ – 2003

Now, as it approaches the end of May, I am near the end of my time in this place.

We are at the end of all of the changes from last year. When I leave, the station will be in a place where there is no technical reason for it to not excel, and the staff are all willing to prove it too.

I know that my part is finished and the dreams I had for the place are fulfilled. There are more dreams ahead, but the ones for Family TV are now left for someone else to dream.

As I leave, Lifeway is a very different technical place to how it was when I first arrived. Most buildings are now connected by high speed networks and multiple server computers provide high speed Internet, email, and other services. There is a fully air-conditioned central equipment room that is filled with technical gear for both the computer network and the audio-visual requirements of the television station. A new phone system has also been installed.

Things are much more reliable now. They also require considerably less work to keep running.

We got there! Wherever “there” is. But I know one thing. The computer side of things are (for the college and FTN at least) at their best level yet.

But for me, I’m going now…to South America!!!

History of NZ – 2002

Near the beginning of 2002 I was moved to FTN. This is our regional television station, now known as Family TV. It seems that the transformation I brought about to the computers throughout the college was noticed, and now it was hoped that I would bring a similar change to the desperate state of computers in FTN.

It worked. But I was only one small part of this puzzle. Simon O’Shaughnessy, our new station director provided a flow of funds without which it would not have been possible. Also Andrew, the sole technical guy here when I arrived, brought his expertise and willingness to experiment to the picture. It was together that we were then able to transform the landscape of FTN’s computer shambles into something effective. In the words of Simon… “well done guys”.

While at FTN, I also became part of a major restructure. With Stu’s knowledge (the TV course lecturer with lots of industry experience in TV), Simon’s ability to source funding, Andrew’s technical savvy, my organisational skills, and the physical help of Carl and his brother Dave in building things, we managed to totally rearrange the room structures throughout the station. Eventually we reached a design that was technically brilliant. Well, we think so anyway.

By the end of it the station was brand new again. It had new paint, new carpet, new editing suites, new cabling throughout, new station graphics, a new name, new programming of shows, and new teams being formed. We had transformed Family Television Network into Family TV. It was a fresh station. But boy! What a year that one was.

History of NZ – 2001

Once the new R18 course started this year things were in full swing. I found that I was starting to do a lot more computer work. Supporting people with computer problems was the main area, but there was also some competition between the technical guy, Matt, in FTN and me. This resulted in a competition to build the best mail server. I won. In the end my server was adopted as the main server for Lifeway. This became my other area of growing involvement.

During this year I took the opportunity to teach part of the courses in the college. Working with the students was a lot of fun albeit lots of hard work too. My brief foray involved parts of the Study Skills course and a group from the Decision Making Course. At the end of the year there was talk of me taking on more teaching in the college. I kinda liked this idea but also didn’t. It would mean more work, and stepping outside my comfort zone. That was ok though because I needed to hone these skills. However I never did do any more teaching. I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to jump ships – from the College to FTN. This would take place early next year.

Meanwhile, Walter and Cindy Ruakere had been talking for a while of doing a trip somewhere together. This would be a preaching and singing type of trip. Around August Cindy was getting ready to release a new album. This was the perfect timing. A trip was born and after lots of preparation, “The South Island Tour” was ready to roll. And roll we did. Most of the trip was driving.

As with anything Walter is part of, there is always an element of fun. We got to see lots of the countryside and best of all, we even got to go skiing. Well think of it as skiing as they did in the days of old. Without lifts but with new gear. Yep. The lifts had closed the day before we got there. Undeterred, we walked up the slope and skied back down again. Over and over. By the end of the day we were stuffed, but very happy. The girls went Jet-Boating while we skied and said they had a great time.

The tour took us to Invercargill at the very bottom of the South Island and back, stopping at churches and halls on the way. Cindy sang, Walter preached. It was a great combination. Once at Invercargill we were done. The only thing that remained was the drive home. Almost the length of New Zealand, the drive took two days and was an awesome trip. I especially enjoyed the tension of the part where we almost missed the ferry to Wellington. We ended up making it there within 40 minutes of it leaving or something just as close.

These were great days and there were smiles on all of our faces. I have many wonderful photos and memories of these times. After this everything changed. For me anyway. And for Walter. Walter and Teresa left Lifeway. I moved to FTN. It was different now, but the memories of these times will always remain with me. They were great days. The highlight of my time in New Zealand.