We're holidaying, they're working

Last updated 05:00 20/12/2013
Working Xmas
CRUCIAL ROLE: Glen Eden station officer Wayne Donnelly, 49, is one of four other officers at the station holding the fort on Christmas Day.
Working Xmas
FESTIVE CHEER: Waitakere Hospital midwife Katrine Skougaard, 36, says it’s rewarding bringing new life into the world on Christmas.
Working Xmas
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Food and coffee manager for Western Gas Alisha Verrenkamp, 21, will keep the fuel and the coffee flowing at Z Energy this Christmas.

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While you're relaxing at the beach or sharing a festive meal with family this Christmas, spare a thought for those working. Reporter Monica Tischler talks to a few Westies needed to keep us safe and make sure the coffee is still made.

Wayne Donnelly, 49, Glen Eden station officer

I haven't had a Christmas off in about four years but somebody's got to do it.

There are four other officers working and we start at 8am.

Usually it's a fairly quiet day but we get a lot of motor vehicle accidents because there's so much movement on the roads.

We'll do appliance and equipment checks but won't do any training. It will be a relaxed station day.

The guys can bring in family and we'll put on a roast or barbecue for everyone to enjoy.

Management give a ham to all duty staff working on Christmas.

I have three kids who live in Kerikeri with their mum and will all be doing different things on the day.

Like most emergency staff we don't want to see anything go wrong but we have to deal with it as it comes.

We get the odd fire from barbecues and over the summer months we get a lot of rural fires and real Christmas tree fires where the pine needles dry out and catch on fire from a heat build up with the lights. I've been to about six incidents over the years from Christmas tree fires and people need to be really careful.

Alisha Verrenkamp, 21, Western Gas food and coffee manager

I'm on call 24/7 any way so if I wasn't working on Christmas Day I guarantee I'd be called in.

I get to work about 7am and move across the five different Z Energy sites out west, helping out where needed. The majority of my job involves making sure the stores are up to standard and running properly.

I handle all the food safety audits and operational duties like stock take and I can also make coffee or pump gas.

Every site has different peak times. Our biggest sites like Massey and Te Atatu get really busy and cars with boats are a big issue.

Ice is very popular too - everybody wants ice on Christmas Day.

We're some of the only retail stores open on the 25th that stock all the supplies.

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Cream, bread and milk are always really popular because the supermarkets aren't open and we're the last stop people can go for that kind of thing.

The staff are always happy and we'll be wearing Santa hats or elf ears.

We like getting into the theme of things.

I'll finish at about 5pm and then enjoy a Christmas dinner at my parents house.

Katrine Skougaard, 36, Waitakere Hospital midwife

This is my first Christmas working in New Zealand but I've worked three Christmases in Denmark, where I'm from.

I've delivered three Christmas Day babies. The parents are generally really excited.

It's pretty much like any other day where I'll get to work at 7am and sort out what patients I have and who I need to tend to.

It can be pretty busy depending on how many women give birth in the lead up to Christmas but the numbers generally are the same as usual.

Waitakere Hospital averages around 3000 births a year.

Even though we're doing what we normally do, the spirit is a bit different because it's Christmas.

There's eight midwives working on the 25th and we'll bring in festive food and do Secret Santa.

The health board provides a Christmas meal for staff too which is nice.

I finish at 3.30pm and will then go to a friends house to celebrate but because I'm working from 7am to 7.30pm on December 26 I'll only stay for a couple of hours.

- Western Leader

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