A focus of this issue of Channel Mag is what we are calling "Post-COVID19 Positivity”, highlighting people and businesses in our community that are taking the challenges of 2020 head on. One such person is Chris Harvey. Pre-COVID-19 the former Takapuna Grammar pupil was a pilot with Air New Zealand. Following his COVID-inflicted redundancy he has very quickly ‘pivoted’ to a career selling local real estate with Barfoot & Thompson Milford. Channel Mag’s Aidan Bennett put these questions to him in early July.
AIDAN BENNETT: Life has taken quite a change since March, hasn’t it Chris? You had your dream job at Air New Zealand and then COVID-19 hit. How hard has it been to pivot into something else?
CHRIS HARVEY: Honestly, the chance to pivot into real estate was something that came about quite quickly out of the blue. I took the opportunity with both hands and immediately turned to study. I spent all waking hours learning as much as I could during lockdown. Obviously not flying also meant I had the time. Study is not new to me as we are always learning and constantly reviewing as a pilot. This was just exciting new material! In life, twists and turns and alternate routes are a sure reality, it's just learning to swing with them.
AB: I understand you have also recently purchased a property in the Hauraki area?
CH: It was such a happenstance situation! Alexandra (my fiancée), and I had just moved back from Hong Kong after living there just under three years while I was flying the 747s for Cathay Pacific. We had only been in New Zealand four weeks, and we were just going to house-sit around Auckland for a year or so to experience the local areas again.
One Guy Fawkes night we were shown the property and instantly fell in love with it. It was perfect for us. A real original Franchie & Ion, brick and tile do up. We acted very fast, knowing it was going to be popular. We made an offer even though we had not even secured finance from the bank, and stressfully waited for it all to align in time! We've since put a lot of sweat and tears into the house to make it our own. Lots more to do as always!
AB: What made you choose to go into real estate?
CH: COVID! The word is cliché now, but it's been such an unprecedented situation.
Sue Evans, a mother of a good friend, kindly offered me the opportunity to partner up. Instantly I was hooked. Unlimited work schedule and commission-based. I am a bit of an energiser bunny when it comes to helping others. I give it my all which is why Sue Evans asked me along.Also, believe it or not, real estate has always been a passion of mine. I bought my first investment property just south of Auckland when I was 23. Working hard, saving hard and researching hard made that happen. Flying was always the focus but due to COVID and being made redundant, now I have the opportunity to give it a real good go.
AB: You know the area pretty well don’t you? Lots of family history in the area I understand?
CH: It's going to sound real classic, but I was born at North Shore Hospital, went to Takapuna Primary, Takapuna Normal Intermediate and Takapuna Grammar School. Family-wise, my mother grew up in the Mairangi Bay area, and my father's childhood home was along Hurstmere Road which my grandparents owned for 50 years! Growing up I lived in the house with my brothers on site at the Takapuna Beach Holiday Park which my parents Kevin and Christine owned; they ran the camp-ground from 1995 until 2010. That's where I learnt hard work. No such thing there as a nine to five job!
AB: You’ve flown planes all over the world. What are some of the interesting places you’ve lived or worked in and are there any favourites?
CH: All up I think last count it was something like 35 different countries, and 140 different airports. The world becomes a very small place when you traverse it both for holiday and for work. I was lucky that my previous employment meant that not only did I fly in different locations, I actually also lived in them for a period of time. Being shot at on the ground and in the air made for interesting times. I flew for the United Nations in Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Liberia. Hong Kong will always be on the list also – giving us the opportunity to travel from a central hub to everywhere in the world!
AB: You’ve stated an ambition to get back to flying one day. How many years away do you think it will be until the airlines recover and the world is back to normal travel-wise?
CH: How long is a piece of string!? What is normal these days? I wish I knew. I can't pretend to know, as what I thought I knew keeps changing daily. Best guess would be long term. At this stage I am focussing 110% of my energy and passion on real estate.
AB: Barfoot & Thompson is well-known for being a great firm to work for. In the short time you’ve been involved you have had a taste of things; what are your thoughts on why they are so well respected?
CH: Family company, family values. To me it seems they are a close knit community of like-minded individuals all passionate to work together as one. It was founded nearly 100 years ago as a family business and still is today. That really is impressive! It shows they have dedication, skills and that personal integrity is at the forefront.
AB: You are working closely with Sue Evans at Barfoot & Thompson. Her experience and guidance must be invaluable for you just starting out?
CH: Invaluable would be an understatement. Sue has been working in the industry for nearly a decade and has a lot of contacts and experience. I'm very lucky to be working with such a well respected and honest person, gaining knowledge and great foundation skills along the way.
AB: Having experienced living in other parts of the world, what makes the North Shore so special? You’ve obviously chosen to come home.
CH: I feel very privileged. Travel has allowed me to appreciate New Zealand. Most people return to their roots. I am so fortunate that home happens to be Takapuna in New Zealand. If anything, COVID has shown the world how great it is here.
AB: Complete the following… On a lazy North Shore Sunday I love nothing more than...
CH: … wrestling with open home flags in a screaming south westerly with the prospect of retiring after experiencing four seasons in one day with a cold one.