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Finnish woman leaves big hole behind in Aranui

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One of the silver linings of the Christchurch earthquakes is the way the rebuild is forging bonds across communities and people from different backgrounds and countries. 
 
For Johanna Sutinen, 25, from Finland, her six months working as a traffic controller in Aranui found her adopted by her Auckland piping crew as “one of them” as well as being semi-adopted by two residents in Rosanna Place.  
 
Most days, she shared a cup of tea with one resident, Sharon, a welcome break after early morning starts.  Another resident, Kathryn, would stop to say hello as she was cycling to and from home. They were so sad to see her go, they gave her New Zealand pounamu as a farewell gift. 
 
Johanna Sutinen, of Finland, out of her traffic controller environment with her farewell gifts from Aranui people.
 
 
Jennifer Randell, SCIRT’s Fletcher team stakeholder co-ordinator, explains:
 
“We have been installing the new vacuum wastewater system on Shortland St, Rosanna Place and Ariel Place, Aranui, since early November 2014. 
 
“Johanna was the only female on site working with our sub-contractor Pipeline and Infrastructure. They are a great, close-knit team, originally from Auckland, and they took good-natured Johanna in as one of their family.
 
Team Finland
“However, it is always nice to have a little female time, and Johanna was invited in by one  of the residents for her morning cuppa and a catch up. This meant a lot to her, given she was away from home, working and travelling.  She is originally from Kuopio (located in the middle of Finland) but now lives in Helsinki. She travelled to New Zealand with a small group of Finns. While her friends Niina and Miia were also working as traffic controllers in Aranui, they picked up the nickname ‘Team Finland.’ “
 
When we caught up with Johanna, she was in New Plymouth with her brother, heading away from New Zealand near the end of March for more travel before heading home by the end of April.
 
Traffic control is different in Finland 
When she was originally contacted about the traffic controller job, it was a completely new thing to her. “We do have traffic controllers in Finland but it's different. In Finland road construction is done during the summer and mostly during the night so the effect upon traffic is minimal while they are doing their work. During the night usually there is only a need for signs and speed limitations around the construction area or they put up traffic lights for busy routes,” she says. 
 
Previously she had worked in retail selling clothes, something she will investigate again when she gets home, as well as doing more study.
 
“The crew were like family to me,” says Johanna. “I will be coming back to see them again, so I'm not saying ‘goodbyes.’ The ladies in Rosanna Place and other residents were also fantastic.”
 
Ka kite ano to one member of Team Finland and thanks for your special contribution to the Christchurch rebuild!
 
Johanna Sutinen traffic controller and her Kiwi work family - the Pipeline and Infrastructure crew.
 
 
Published: 10 March 2015