Wed 15 Apr 2015

Rob says goodbye after 30 years


After more than 30 years at WITT Rob Whaley has retired.

The electrical technician started work at the Polytech in 1984 and had his last day there on Friday April 10. He was the longest-serving employee to have worked continuously at WITT and actually had his 30th anniversary in December last year, says facilities manager Charlotte Dunning,

“He’s also the only person who worked there to serve under all seven principals or chief executives as they became known.  As a result, he’s seen more than his fair share of restructures,’’ Charlotte says with a laugh.

That was something Rob was happy to confirm although none was necessary.

“Yes, I’ve seen plenty of those. Pretty much every chief executive did at least one, as they put their own mark on the place,’’ he said.

It was testament to Rob’s effectiveness and reliability that he survived them all.

“When I first started there were about 30 of us technicians.  In 2001 that was reduced to about 15 and now there’s only two or three  left with as much of the services needed were outsourced.

For all that, Rob says he thoroughly enjoyed his time at WITT.

“It was so different from the construction industry where I’d previously worked. I couldn’t believe it when I started, all the staff would say hello in the morning and smile.

“At morning tea we’d go to the smoko room, which was packed and there was a tea lady. Things have changed since then.’’

Charlotte paid tribute to Rob and his work ethic.

“He was part of my team, and he was wonderful. He was a cheery soul, who was conscientious about his work and seldom missed a day at work. He’ll certainly be missed.

“He was a registered electrician and as such he would often be wiring in new equipment and machinery, as well as fixing the lights and doing a lot of maintenance in the electrical area.

“In recent years Rob also did a  lot of work for the oil and gas team, preparing the kits for the hazardous materials courses and worked with the electrical engineering tutors.’’

Rob had a good send-off on the Friday which was the last day before the holidays started. They also had a pot luck lunch which Rob said went off well. 

In typical Kiwi fashion he shouted a few beers at the pub at the end of the day. “Half of WITT tuned up,’’ laughed Rob, “so I shouted a couple of rounds and left them to it. Barbara (George) put some food on which was appreciated and all up it was a good day.’’

Despite retiring, Rob won’t be taking it easy. “I’ve got more than 50 model aircraft, which is a real passion of mine, and even since I finished work I’ve bought another one.’’

Rob says he put the voucher from WITT to good use. “I bought a water blaster (and I’ve got some change left over) and I’m going repaint my home.’’