From photographer to dog sitter and back to the studio for the Taranaki man

A retired traffic cop gave Kieran Best some advice in his first days of a new advisory job, advice that has carried him through more than 25 years as a dog guard and car park attendant. a small town in Taranaki.

Instead of arguing or defending himself when people let go, the former officer advised Best, who had just started working at Stratford District Council, to just listen.

It’s advice the new compliance officer has taken to heart.

Keeping calm worked like an imaginary umbrella, he said, so the abuse didn’t affect him.

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“I was just letting them go, taking the wind off them, letting them know that I could understand their point of view.

“I would try to be positive and try to help.”

For example, he offered someone with an unregistered dog, who could face a $300 fine, a chance to pay the registration fee and have the fine erased, and they walked away smiling.

The best works on a rustic clock he is making for a bar in Stratford, one of many projects he has in mind.


The best works on a rustic clock he is making for a bar in Stratford, one of many projects he has in mind.

The life experience of 30 years as a photographer, shooting weddings, family portraits and sometimes emergency press and police work, had also prepared him to manage relationships with people.

Best had planned to join the Air Force when he left school, but his father stopped him.

“Dad had a hard time during the war and didn’t want anyone in the family to go into the services,” he said.

Luckily, he is offered a job with a Hastings-based aerial mapping company, a very long train and ferry ride from his childhood home in Timaru.

After a few years, he returned to Timaru for another job, in a photography studio.

But a few months later he was drawn to Hastings – and a girl he had met.

“I was offered a job at a studio in Hastings, and Colleen’s mum said ‘take it’ because she had put up with Colleen talking about me for a few years.”

A few months later, another job offer tempts the couple, now engaged, to marry.

“Colleen said, ‘If you’re moving to Stratford, I’m coming with you’ and within six weeks we had our wedding planned,” he said.

Over the next few years, the couple raised two children while running their photography and framing business in Stratford, where they had a purpose-built studio at home, with a formal back garden for family portraits. .

But in 1996, modern cameras allowed many people to take their own photos.

“Things started to change and I decided to find something better,” Best said.

‘Something Better’ turned out to be a part-time job at Stratford District Council as a parking attendant, but he was soon promoted to a full-time position in charge of dog and animal control, noise complaints and resource consents.

Kieran Best's former photography studio is now his studio.


Kieran Best’s former photography studio is now his studio.

In January of this year, twenty-five years, four months and 11 days later, he stopped working for good.

He is relishing his retirement, spending a lot of time in his studio (the old photo studio), where he has various projects underway, including creating impressive wooden scrolls for Citizens’ Award recipients, earrings intricately carved from wood and building a model steam train.

He also just recorded 50 years as a member of the AA Taranaki council, which advocates for motorists and cyclists at the district level.

“I don’t have a specific background in transportation, but sometimes it helps not to know too much – it can help you better represent a general person’s perspective,” he said. .

Current projects in which the Taranaki Committee has been involved include measures to reduce speed in certain areas of New Plymouth and on Opunake Rd between Stratford and the coast.

“I am very proud to have recently been involved in our work to promote safer cycling infrastructure on the roads of Taranaki. Plus, we pushed long and hard behind the scenes to improve the SH43.

He has no intention of retiring from AA because there is still a lot of work to do.

Although he has spent 50 years advocating for better roads, he has seen repair crews assess potholes three times this year on SH3 just outside his home.

Problems with roads in the region are due to a combination of factors, including volcanic soils and the amount of traffic, he said.

“I blame the trucks; roads were never built to support such heavy loads. I would like to see the railways used more.

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