Every Monday the Chronicle puts some questions to a local person to find out what really makes them tick. Turns out environment champion Robin Williamson is both an IT guru and a spiritual counsellor - and, as she tells reporter Laurel Stowell, she likes a chocolate self-saucing pudding.
How will Whanganui people know about you?
I am a Sustainable Whanganui and Plastic Free Whanganui volunteer. I have conducted 11 waste audits with local businesses and I made the ReSource Whanganui website last year, designed to help local people reduce and reuse before they recycle. I've also been involved with Computers in Homes, Progress Castlecliff and the Multicultural Council.
How long have you lived in Whanganui?
I was brought up here and left after the sixth form. I worked in Wellington, then Auckland and travelled to the United Kingdom and United States. I lived in London for seven years, then, looking to return home, I spent 18 months in Melbourne. I landed back in Whanganui after a 33-year break, because my family is here. It took some adjustment, but now I love it here. It helps that I "recycled" my first boyfriend from when I was 17, Grant Hartell. We've now been together nearly 11 years.
What sort of work have you done?
My first job was as a shorthand typist for the Department of Justice in Wellington. I was in the right place to learn the new word processing systems, so then worked for Wang Computers and Data General NZ as a systems analyst. They were very exciting times.
All the rest of my jobs were in IT. In one I was business systems manager for Grimshaw Architects, who did the Eden Project in Cornwall.
What have you been doing in lockdown?
Tidying, baking, being slothful. Also sewing and knitting, learning tai chi and Italian language and binge watching The Gilmour Girls, an American sitcom I missed during 10 years when I didn't have TV.
What is your work in Whanganui?
Increased demand from job seekers and businesses
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I am self-employed, and I have been doing some waste minimisation work for Whanganui District Council and some think tank work on cardboard and paper recycling.
How did your interest in the environment start?
I used to be the perfect consumer. I earned lots of money and enjoyed spending it. The dawning realisation that all was really not well with the planet tipped me into a kind of purgatory for a few years. Now I'm the perfect anti-consumer.
What is your favourite music?
I still love the songs of the 60s and 70s - Uriah Heep and Led Zeppelin. My love of dance has also exposed me to a lot of different styles. I spent some great nights at a trance club in London.
What might surprise us about you?
I have studied and practised a breathing meditation and core shamanism for over 30 years, as an antidote to my computer work. I have worked as a spiritual counsellor.
I have also bungy jumped, done whitewater rafting, tandem sky-diving and parapenting, and spent a night in a tent under a tree during a thunderstorm in Champagne, France.
I have spent half my adult life being self-partnered, which has been really useful and good for me.
What are you longing to do in level 2?
I want to get back to my projects and my dance sessions - Five Rhythms and Middle Eastern dance.
What are your favourite foods?
Pretty much any tasty offering someone else has cooked. My favourite winter dessert would be a self-saucing chocolate pudding.
Why did you leave London, and what was it like returning to Whanganui?
I was having a wild time in London, and totally enjoying it, but I thought it wasn't a city to grow old in. My biggest challenge on returning to Whanganui was not being able to find work here at the level I was working at in London. I have had to reinvent myself a few times in my life.