Thato Matela is one of Greenpeace’s travelling street outreach campaigners. He’s just arrived in the country from Greenpeace’s South Africa office.  These are his impression of his first week at work in New Zealand.

It was the afternoon of the 24 May 2011, when I first headed out for my travel trip with a colleague of mine by the name of Duncan. I didn’t know what to expect but what I did know was that it was going to be one exciting experience.

We took off from Auckland - the big city - and headed off for Hamilton. We made a stop in Huntly - a small Waikato town where the main employer is the Huntly power station. It was so quiet and I remember asking myself “how on earth are we going to recruit supporters here?” Duncan was determined to sign everyone up and I was so inspired by that that I decided to give it a shot.

It was so hard in the beginning but I was gaining my confidence and I started to believe in myself, genuinely this time, but I had no success. That doesn’t mean I won’t go back, I have to return because I consider it an incomplete mission. 

In the late afternoon we drove to Hamilton, where we parked our caravan and tucked in for the night. It wasn’t comfortable, but once I figured out how to sleep in a caravan it got a bit easier.

The morning came and what a shock it was, Duncan had forgotten to fill up the water. It was a shock to the system because this meant that we wouldn’t be able to brush our teeth and wash our faces. The most interesting part about it all is that he was all relaxed and said to me “don’t worry man, just use the public toilets.” It took a while before that sentence was registered!

We had breakfast and started working. It felt weird but yet exhilarating talking to people and knowing that I hadn’t had a bath. Duncan encouraged me to take it easy and not to expect too much too soon, advice I followed. I got my first sign up in Hamilton after a hectic day of rejection.  My success is due to the inspiring team around me - I was able to break the barriers, and show them what I’ve got.

The way we take care of each other is so amazing, there’s never a dull moment, when you’re feeling down your team is always there to support you and lift your spirits up. I’m glad to be here and I’m happy to be doing it with Greenpeace New Zealand.