‘I’ve felt I’ve done the hard yards’

    Robin Wilson stands on the under-construction Invercargill to Bluff walkway and cycleway on his first day of retirement.

    ROBIN Wilson says satisfaction is being part of a team that achieves something for the greater good.

    The recent retiree believes he has earned that feeling through his 42 years’ work as an engineering technician at Environment Southland.

    A born-and-bred Southlander, he said he knew most of the region like the back of his hand.

    In 1979 he began working with council, completing engineering surveys for the stopbank construction on the Mataura River.

    After two years of similar work, he began engineering works within the same team, but he was able to see his work in action.

    “Just about every year for 10 years we had some serious flooding.”

    These included the Invercargill floods of 1984.

    Moving back in to town, Mr Wilson began working with the design team on Invercargill projects.

    At the time there were three engineers and four surveyors working to develop the flood protection scheme in the city.

    Everything was done manually, with no GPS.

    He considered this lucky.

    “The lucky bit for me is I’ve felt I’ve done the hard yards, when work was manual.”

    Not a fan of organisational hierarchy, was not something he dealt with well.

    “Or wanted to, or was any good at. I feel I was good at dealing with the actual construction works and teams of people.”

    From the Waihopai River to Kingswell Creek, the engineering technician looked after the flood protection scheme for years.

    “It was after the city works we realised the stopbanks themselves were an ideal conduit to build walkways. So, we started doing that in 2002.”

    Since then, he was instrumental in getting the Invercargill to Bluff walkway and cycleway built which, in the early days, involved raising money to get it going.

    Surveying and route-finding was undertaken, with the final route planned to how it is today.

    “It was a disappointment we didn’t quite finish the walkway before I had to go but, oh man, I’m 70 now. I’ll let someone else do it.”