Lance Mackintosh stayed true to his grandfather's teaching— there's time to take and there's time to give.
When floods overwhelmed dairy farms in the Hikurangi Swamp two weeks ago, he knew it was time to give back to the former employer who he worked with for 16 years.
That employer, Geoff Crawford, gave him a lifeline when he and his wife moved from Auckland to Whangārei in search of work in 2001.
Over the past two weeks, Mackintosh has volunteered with the clean-up on the Crawford farm while his former boss waits for floodwaters to recede.
"I had a trial date on the farm on a Thursday back in 2001 and, if I didn't secure work, we'd have had to go back to Auckland with our tails between the legs," he recalled.
"After I finished work that day, Geoff congratulated me and offered me a job. Me and my wife breathed a sigh of relief. Geoff had a forestry contract with Rayonier and Hancock so I had a good selection of work over the years."
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Crawford travelled between Cape Reinga and Woodhill, north of Auckland, spraying weedkiller and keeping vegetation in check.
"My grandfather used to say 'There's a time to give and there's a time to take' and I knew this was a time to give. Although they employed me, I am also proud to call them my friends," he said of the Crawfords.
Mackintosh said he resigned in May last year, partly because he had booked round-the-world travel which required him to be off for a long time.
He's now working part-time as a labourer in Whangārei.
Crawford said he offered to trial Mackintosh for a day and the latter ended up staying for 16 years.
"He's been a great employee. Three other former employees have rung me, wanting to come over on their days off and help on the farm. It's been very humbling."
He said those employees could come in when floodwaters receded.