From Southland, Melissa Whitefield is so taken with her life in Hawke’s Bay that she aims to settle here once she finishes her studies.
Melissa is midway through a Diploma in Therapeutic and Sport Massage at EIT. When she completes the programme, her goal is to run her own sports clinic in Napier.
“I definitely love the sports side of it,” she says of her studies. “While I enjoy putting someone to sleep with a relaxing massage, I like the challenge of pinpointing the cause of an injury and working on that. That’s what appeals to me.”
Ideally, she would like to team up with a physiotherapist and a chiropractor, sharing the space and costs in a multi-discipline practice offering patients a range of services.
Melissa comes from a farming background, although her parents now live in Gore. After leaving school, she gained a certificate in early childhood education but soon decided it wasn’t for her and set off to see the world.
“Travel is hard work,” she says. “It’s not as luxurious as some people make out. I’ve been travelling for the last five years.”
For two of those years, she worked on a boat offering “crocs and rocks” cruises between Darwin and Broome. During the wet season, the cruise schedule changed to include New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Joining up with a friend made the next two travel stints easier. For two years Melissa worked in London as an office manager for a marketing firm and followed that with six months working the ski season in France.
Returning to New Zealand, she decided to pursue sports massage studies and, after checking out programmes offered by various educators, decided on the diploma offered at EIT.
“I checked out EIT’s reputation because I wanted to make sure my fees were going to good purpose. I wanted to get out and work and do what I love and not come out with a big loan,” she says of the one-year study programme.
Relocating to Napier was like moving to a foreign town, she laughs. “Well, it’s a different country up here, you have to go across the sea.”
Flatting on Marine Parade, she loves living close to the sea. She and her flatmates have become firm friends and her active social life is enhanced through playing netball and working part-time in a local bar.
Melissa also finds her lecturers approachable and friendly.
“They’re busy, but they always have time for you and I like that they motivate students who are experiencing personal problems. The lecturers really have been above and beyond helpful.”
Melissa says she loves the idea of a future in Napier. “I can see benefits in not living in a rural town. For a single 28-year-old with no commitments, I need to be in a bigger place than Gore. And Napier’s weather is definitely better,” she adds with a grin.