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An on-off-on again career with hydro generation in the Waitaki Valley spanning 45 years has been the major part of John Sturgeon’s more than 50 years as an electrician, starting with a Dunedin apprenticeship.

Mr Sturgeon (67) has retired after ”51 years nine months and 1 day – just short of my 52 years”.

That started with R. Longton Jones Ltd in Dunedin, electrical contractors and the Otago distributors for Zip, on March 18, 1963, coming to the Waitaki Valley and joining the then New Zealand Electricity department (NZED) on November 18, 1969 and finishing on December 19 as electrical supervisor and controller for the mid-Waitaki dams and hydro stations of Waitaki, Aviemore and Benmore.

During that time he has also been involved in community groups and organisations in the Waitaki Valley, which will help keep him occupied in retirement, along with a mental list of jobs his wife Isobel has compiled for him to attend to.

During his time with the three power stations, he has been through three major Government restructurings of the electricity industry, the New Zealand Electricity Department (NZED) being split into the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) for power generation and Transpower for transmission.

Later, the Waitaki Valley power stations became part of Meridian Energy Ltd and, more recently, Tekapo A and B going to Genesis Energy.

When Meridian employed electrical contractors to do the work on the three power stations, he survived working for seven companies in seven years, transferring from one to the other as contracts changed hands.

”Some of the things I will miss,” he said about his career.

”Other things, I’m happy to let go.”

He will certainly miss ”the other guys” he supervises and the ”adrenaline rush” when ”something big blows up” and it has to be brought back on line as quickly as possible.

Asked if that happened often, he replied: ”No, thank goodness.”

He will continue to be the Kurow Fire Brigade chief fire officer, chairman of Kurow Museum, a member of the Waitaki Valley Community Society, a panelist on the Waitaki restorative justice programme and play the solo tenor horn for the Timaru-based Alpine Energy Brass band.

He has other things lined up, including finishing an outdoor dining area of the Hakataramea property owned by himself and Isobel which he started as a retirement project.

Fishing and starting a midweek golf crew figure on his to-do list.

After serving his apprenticeship, and recalling his first job was being called to Donaghy’s Rope and Twine factory, Mr Sturgeon moved to the single man’s quarters at the Aviemore Village, which no longer exists.



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