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Up North with Kaitaia Tractors

One of the reasons I love doing what I do is the opportunity to travel and work with a variety of clients around the world and to be able to help them work through issues in communication or productivity or engagement.

So it was that i had the opportunity a week ago to travel up north to run a one day workshop on communication with a family owned company in Kaitaia, in the far north of the North Island. Kaitaia lies at the base of the Aupouri Peninsula, about 160km northwest of Whangerei and is the last major settlement on State Highway 1. The famous NInety Mile Beach is only 5km west!

To get to Kaitaia, you either need to drive for 4 hours from Auckland or fly. Air New Zealand doesn't fly to Kaitaia but a small company called Barrier Air does. It was with a little trepidation that I boarded the really tiny Cessna Caravan for the flight up north! The cabin was probably the smallest I had ever flown in.

Cabin of Barrier Air Cessna Caravan

There were only 4 other passengers on the flight and i do remember it was distinctly cold!

Oh and there is no toilet, of course so you really need to make sure you visit the facilities before boarding. It didn't help that we sat on the runway for about 20 minutes before taking off though!

It was a surprisingly smooth flight and with spectacular night time views of the North Island.

We landed on a short runway in Kaitaia at about 7.15pm. The airport is fairly basic and when I mean's a small building next to the runway. I was met at the airport by my clients, the Garvins, who run Kaitaia Tractors and are an absolutely lovely couple. They took me to dinner at one of the local seafood restaurants in the town, which served the most amazing pan fried Tarakihi.

I stayed the night at the Northerner which is a rather large motel in the centre of town, but which is also somewhat tired. Still it did the job, i got a good night's sleep and was ready for the workshop the next day.

The workshop was held at the Te Ahu Community facility, which also houses the town's library, musuem, cinema, I-SITE Information centre and council customer services, in addition to meeting and conference facilities.

We had the all 15 employees in the company on the workshop that morning and who seemed pretty eager to learn about their personality preferences and communication styles. Although some, including the company owners had heard of and done the MBTI instrument, most of the participants had not. We had an interesting mix of preferences in the group and it gave the group a new and different language to discuss their differences.

In the afternoon, I ran an exercise called Colourblind, which involved blindfolding the participants for 30 minutes. I distributed a series of plastic pieces of varying sizes and colours, removing two in the process. The object of the exercise was to figure out which pieces were missing. It is an incredibly frustrating exercise for many teams but this group handled it with great humour. They managed to figure out at least half the solution in the time allotted but learned a lot more about their own communication styles in the process.

We ended the workshop with the participants committing to understanding each other a little better and forgiving each other's styles! All in all, a fun day for the group!

I was picked up by the Kaitaia-KeriKeri Shuttle and began the hour long drive through the beautiful Northland countryside to Keri Keri where I would be taking the flight back to Auckland (in a 'proper' plane)!

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