Cool Kiwi Careers

A large percentage of our adult lives are spent at work. So, wouldn’t it be great to spend that time doing something you truly love? We spoke to four Kiwis who have unique, inspiring, adventurous and joyful jobs.

Macarena Carrascosca, Roller Skate Coach

Macarena Carrascosca has been on wheels for almost as long as she could walk. The Argentinian-native picked up her first pair of skates at age four, and she’s been on a roll ever since.

After spending 11 years representing New Zealand as a professional artistic roller skater, winning numerous national and international titles, she started her own club – North Shore Artistic Roller Skating Club – and built a successful roller skating coaching business, Hey Macarena, from the ground up.

After professionally retiring in 2018, Macarena says the move into full-time coaching was a no-brainer.

“I was always going to be a coach. From when I was 14 I helped with the little kids learning to skate. I started coaching privately when I was 16, mentored by my coaches. I chose the university degree I did – Sports Science and Psychology – because I wanted to keep teaching and progressing.

But despite the rapid success of children’s coaching, Macarena also wanted to branch into teaching adults.

Macarena roller skate crouch INP

Macarena Carrascosa, Roller Skate Coach. Photo by Jessie Casson.

“Before 2019, there was no space in New Zealand for adults to learn to skate. So, I just gave it a shot. I started posting about it on Instagram and people began showing up. Towards the end of 2019, it was starting to get quite big.”

However, when the pandemic hit, the numbers of interested skaters swelled drastically.

“When lockdown happened, skating became really popular. It was a way to get outside and be active without having to be around people. But people were buying skates and they didn't know how to use them. I started teaching on Instagram Live and making tutorials on how to start skating in a safe way.”

Today, Macarena’s classes continue to attract large numbers of skaters of all different ages and skill levels. She credits much of this to the sport’s low barrier for entry.

“I don't think the recreation movement is slowing down. There are more and more people joining roller skating and lots of people who just do it casually, which has never happened before. I can't remember there ever being so many people who just do it for fun.”

Read the full story by Emily Draper in AA Directions magazine.

Mark Harris, Stunt Performer

At 65 years of age, with 39 years of industry experience, West Auckland stunt coordinator and legendary stunt driver Mark Harris is still going strong. Considered to be at the pinnacle of stunt driving in New Zealand, Mark’s impressive list of credits include everything from The World’s Fastest Indian and Goodbye Pork Pie to Power RangersXena and Hercules, and even Air New Zealand’s iconic ‘Flying Waka’ safety video.

“I was originally a mechanic with my own panel beating and paint shop,” Mark expains. “I was rally car driving, and someone got my name when they were looking for a stunt driver for the 1980s action movie Shaker Run. I knew nothing about the industry back then, but I ended up doubling for the lead actor, spending three months blasting around roads all over New Zealand at up to 190km/hr in a replica Trans am – every lad’s dream!”

The experience left Mark yearning for more, so eventually he wound up his business and devoted himself to full-time stunt work. Fast forward a few decades and you’ll find his adrenaline-fueled magic sprinkled throughout more than 450 movies, TV shows and high-end action commercials, both here and overseas.

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Mark Harris, Stunt Driver. Photo by Mark Smith.

In the early 2000s Mark set up his own company, Stunt Productions Ltd, and as well as being the action man behind all of the daredevilry, he built up a bank of high-tech equipment – from car rotisseries and driving pods to rigging kits, ratchets and motion controlled high speed winches.

As far as careers go Mark couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“Lifestyle-wise, it’s a young guy’s dream. You go to a job in Fiji, for example, you get your food and accommodation paid, you get allowances and a good wage, and best of all you’re doing something you love.”

And while Mark may no longer be a young man, thanks to a lifetime following his passion he is lucky enough to still feel like one.

Read the full story by Vanessa Trethewey in AA Directions magazine.

Emma Bean, Kiwi Whisperer

When people ask how they could work with adorable baby kiwi, Emma Bean, manager of the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua apologises in advance for what could be considered dark humour.

“We all joke that someone on the team would have to die,” she laughs. “It’s seriously so good. No one ever wants to leave.”

Emma always wanted to work with animals. She completed a biological sciences degree at Birmingham University, and then an undergraduate thesis in microbiology before finding work in conservation. She was initially offered a volunteering position at the National Kiwi and applied for a full-time job covering maternity leave.

“Sixteen years later, I’m still here. The kiwi is essentially a species that is biologically unique, and it's really captured me from that perspective.”

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Emma Bean, Manager of the National Kiwi Hatchery. Photo by Mead Norton.

One of Emma’s favourite parts of her job is candling an egg where a light is shone to illuminate the embryo inside. Newly hatched chicks weigh around 350 grams and get released into the wild after around five months.

“It’s emotional because you know you're helping save them,” Emma says. “We need to get them to three times their hatch weight, to a size that we describe as ‘stoat-proof’ where they can defend themselves. We basically keep them safe when they're most vulnerable.”

“If I was to be run over by a bus tomorrow, I’d be okay with what I've done in life,” smiles Emma. “I can say I've hatched over 2,000 chicks, so to be able to put that on my headstone, yeah, I'm pretty happy with that. It’s an absolute privilege.”

Read the full story by Debbie Griffiths in AA Directions magazine.

Drew Stanton, Location Scout

One of the key behind-the-scenes roles in the film and television industry is finding the places that appear on screen. Drew Stanton is a location scout, responsible for seeking out the landscapes, parks, gardens, streets and houses that form the settings for films and the backdrops of television commercials. 

After 30 years in the live event industry, Drew now works as a New Zealand location scout. “I do scouting and location management for films, television, commercials and sometimes still photography,” Drew explains. 

“Television commercials and drama series have very different requirements,” Drew explains. “But generally speaking, I will get a creative brief from the director, then work with them to understand what they're looking for and how they want each scene to play out.” 

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Drew Stanton, Location Scout. Photo by Jessie Casson.

Armed with as much information as possible, Drew then begins the sometimes-daunting task of trying to find the perfect location. 

“I liken it to chasing the white rabbit,” Drew laughs. “Even if I feel like I’ve found a location that’s exactly what I think they want, I still have to find multiple versions. I might think one spot is perfect, but the director loves a different one." 

As a location manager as well as a scout, Drew’s job also involves ensuring that a location is logistically suitable. “There might be 200 or so people on a shoot, so I have to be able to get them, plus all the vehicles and equipment in there. That’s something I have to be mindful of when scouting – whatever I put forward must work logistically as well as visually. 

“New Zealand is remarkable. The number of times I’ve got to the end of a day on the road looking for spots, thinking ‘ah, I’ve had enough.’ Then I’ve gone around one more corner and suddenly there’s something that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Or even if it’s not quite perfect, you’re still surprised by what’s there. 

“If you like being in a car a lot it’s a great job! There are so many times when I think ‘wow, this is crazy good!’” 

Read the full story by Jo Percival in AA Directions magazine.

These stories were originally published as part of the main feature in the Autumn 2024 issue of AA Directions magazine.