Nina Schubert was a top professional model for six years. She did the catwalk shows, travelled first class, did the catalogue shoots, appeared in the big magazines.
She made heaps of money and she saved it.
She quit because she woke up one day and realised it was an unhealthy lifestyle.
Now she is flatting and running triathlons with her cousin thrice removed, businesswoman Celine Filbee, the daughter of local accountant Peter Filbee and his wife, Cherol. Miss Schubert's mother is Peter Filbee's cousin.
Miss Schubert says she is in Hawera because of this family connection. She quit big-time modelling early last year and came to New Zealand in November.
"It's a long story why I'm here. The short version is I was living in the south of France and my paintings were paying my rent. I met this Australian guy and we got engaged and we were supposed to come back to Australia and we kind of broke up. Celine had lived in England for 10 years and she came and stayed with my family. I thought I'd go and stay with her.
"I love it here, but obviously it's hard to get work. I need to learn a trade. I only know modelling."
She says the freezing works is hard, strenuous physical work.
"We sort boned-out meat that comes down on the conveyor hot and still pulsating. I've shown some skill and they're going to give me some knife training for a trimming job.
"We were laid off because there was no kill, but I've been called back for next week.
"I don't know how long I will be here, but it's the best-paid work around. I could work in a shop or a caf, but they don't appeal. There are quite a few women at the works I'm not the odd one out."
She's not sure whether she likes it, but it allowed her to cover expenses for the Tauranga triathlon last weekend, in which she competed with Celine. The tri was her first, completed in 1 hour 30 minutes (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5.5.km run). If she's still around, she'll do the Tauranga Tinman in November.
At the meatworks, "someone has been buying me lunch every day, but I don't know who it is. I go to my table and there's chocolate biscuits and sweets waiting. I assume it's a guy, but maybe it's a chick. Romance in the boning-room cafe, ha ha.
"Yesterday I was planting in the public gardens around Hawera with the Fulton Hogan girls. That was lovely. But they didn't need me today. I'd rather do gardening than the meatworks, but the money is better."
She's also been working as a helper at Kiwi Clubhouse Learning Centre kindergarten.
She started modelling at 17, just went straight into it.
"I was seen by an agency in Covent Garden, walking round the streets with my friend. I had a look that someone noticed. I was in a film when I was 17. It was called Dream."
She was a professional model for six years "on and off, because there are gaps in the market and you never do it constantly. I travelled everywhere many times: Milan, London, Paris, Spain, New York, Mexico fashion mag and catalogue shoots and catwalk shows.
"I enjoyed the fact that I travelled, but the majority of the time it was tedious work. You spend a long time waiting around. But it's very well paid. I was paid as much as $40,000 for a two-day shoot that's for catalogue work and I made lots and lots of money doing that. In Germany and the States is where you make that big money.
"You don't make money in London. You become someone who is going to make money. That's where the magazines are, there and Milan and Paris. You get the big campaigns through being in the magazines.
"I've done all the mags except for the sordid glamour ones. I've been in Vogue, Marie Claire, Tank, W, Nova, FHM, Conde Naste Traveller, they were some of them.
"If you're with a good agency, you get the work, and I was with Select Model Management and several others. They promote you and you do all the mags and it's whether you get the campaigns and become an icon or whether you just work.
"The agency knows the magazine owners, they socialise together. If your agency wants to promote you, they will do it like a snap of the fingers if you are worth it, if you are up to scratch."
Celebrity gossip websites give her vital stats as: height 5ft 11in/1.8m, bust 34b, waist 25in/64cm, hips 36in/91cm, dress 10/38, shoes 7, blonde hair, blue eyes. Those probably date to 2006.
Her speciality was swimwear and denim.
"It was the tall, blonde, body thing. I wasn't a dark, edgy girl, I was commercial, long blonde hair and long legs.
"But I'm not a model any more, I got bored. I'm 26 in April and they told me I could model till I'm 40 and you can. It's whether you want to. No, I'm not running away from something, I just got tired of it all. I want to do something else, but right now I don't know what that is. It's a blank canvas. I'm still getting offers to go to Europe for modelling work.
"I left modelling because you get into a real unhealthy state. It's not such a healthy business and people just don't realise this. Why is it seen as being so glamorous? They don't realise the damage that's done to little girls and boys and that's another reason I left."
She hung out more with actresses who started as models.
"I was friends with Sienna Miller, who is a big time actress. The models I knew? Janelle `Nell' Robinson was one."
She has lived most of her life in London. She went to school there with Robert Pattinson, who lived around the corner and they ended up at the same drama school.
"Rob is still a really good friend of mine. He's hopefully going to come here, if he can get a break from working. I gave him my paintings when we lived together in London. Now he's commissioned me to paint one for him and I'm working on it.
"I do really big abstract canvases, influenced by geometric patterns like chessboards and latticework, mainly black and white. I'm interested in optical illusions."
Shown a dating gossip website printout with herself and Pattinson featured, she reacts icily:
"That means there's a whole website making money out of me and I'm not getting a cut!"
She's not sure what she'll do next.
"I wouldn't mind moving to Raglan because I like surfing.
"I'd like to make movie industry contacts.
"I agreed to be interviewed because I'd like to be a journalist.
"When someone offers me something, I'll have a go at it.
"I'd like to do an apprenticeship with an interior designer.
"I could up stakes and leave whenever I like. I can go anywhere in the world and work my trade of modelling.
"My last paid job was early 2008. It's fun but it's boring.
"I could go back to my boyfriend in France, or I could go stay with a friend in Phuket. Another friend has opened her own English language school in Mexico and she's prepared to train me up and work there.
"I don't know if I feel grounded. I never felt grounded in modelling.
"Yeah, I feel I'm at a crossroads, but that is a very exciting place to be.
"What do I want to do with my life? I don't know. Does everyone else know?"
- Taranaki Daily News
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