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A group of Devonport locals enjoy a "Chat with Matt'

Neighbourhood kids ask project manager the hard questions

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Sam and Finn Worth have a turn in the driver's seat.


challenges faced by crane operators were brought home for a group of children visiting the Devonport construction site of Ryman Healthcare’s new retirement village yesterday when the question of what they do when they need the loo came up.

Jaws dropped and eyes widened when they heard that given the alternative of a lengthy descent followed by an even lengthier climb back up again, ‘a special bottle’ might be kept up there!

The tongue in cheek answer was delivered by Project Manager Matt Hutchinson along with many others after Ryman Healthcare invited neighbours of the site for a kids’ Q & A session, dubbed a ‘Chat with Matt’.

The idea was inspired by Ngataringa Road neighbour Janet Digby whose curious nephews and their fascination for construction sites had prompted Matt and the team to build a viewing platform for locals to get a good view of the works going on below.

After receiving lots of positive feedback about that, Ryman was keen to find another way to involve the locals and once again Janet’s Q & A suggestion came up trumps.

The session was held in the courtyard of the Ngataringa Road sales office which overlooks the construction site, and amongst those that turned up were neighbours with their children and some future residents and their grandchildren.

One visitor, Sally Burge, who brought grandsons Sam (12) and Finn (9) said she appreciated the opportunity.“It’s a great idea to do this. We were keen to get a closer look at the action.”

Gillian Weir, who lives just beyond Ngataringa Park, brought her 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter along.
“Their grandmother has purchased an apartment so they are interested in learning how it’s going to be built,” said Gillian.
“There was a lot of interest from the adults as well as the children,” said Matt. “The kids enjoyed climbing up on the cab of the digger we’d put up there and we had a couple of the guys working in another one on the other side of the fence so they could see the action up close.”

Matt was also armed with plenty of facts and figures about the site, the crane, the trucks and the diggers and was tested on most of them.
Other questions included whether the project manager wears a different colour hard hat to the rest of the workers, the answer being that yes, white is traditionally the recognised site management colour although that has changed over the years to be more of a personal choice, which Matt doesn’t agree with.

Another question was what would happen to the crane operator if the site had to evacuate in the event of a natural disaster - that would depend on the reason for the evacuation!
Added Matt: “I’m pleased with how it went, it was a pretty successful event.”

The curliest question to answer, said Matt, was one which he’s faced many times during his decade of working on Ryman retirement villages. It was usually asked by both future residents and the sales team!

“‘When are you handing over?’ That’s always the hardest one to answer because the unexpected can and often does happen.

“Take this week for instance. We’ve had over a week of strong winds which limits our use of the crane and that then means we can’t lift as much as we’d want to.

“So it’s always a tough question because its hard to gauge when you’re so far out from completion, but it’s one we inevitably do have to answer. Not today though!” he laughed.

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Matt gets asked the hard questions by both kids and adults alike.

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