News | 1 September 2021
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20 Twenty One: Bruce Tan

Wellington is a world away from Ipoh, Malaysia, but it’s where Poh (Bruce) Tan came to forge his path to the Council.

A smiling man, Bruce Tan, wearing glasses and a blue and white chequered shirt, with an ANZAC poppy pinned to it. He stands with his arms behind his back on Oriental Bay, pictured waist up, inside a yellow and white polaroid frame that says 20 Twenty One: celebrating our people.

Moving to New Zealand’s capital in 1975, Bruce furthered his education at Wellington Polytechnic – completing his NZ Certificate of Engineering (Civil) in 1979 – before becoming a member of Registered Engineering Associate (Civil) in 1988.

But Wellington City Council wasn’t the first stop on Bruce’s working journey though.

After working 18 years for NZ Housing Corporation, Ministry of Works and consultancy, I was restructured and decided to join Council with the engineering experience gained and joined Structural Design Branch as a Design Draughtsman.

Now 20 years later after roles in drafting and design, Bruce is a Project Engineer Furniture.

“My role is assisting and managing roading contracts. I ensure our street furniture and barrier assets under my care are in safe, good and presentable order for customer use.”

Two men smiling, standing around Oriental Bay behind a public bench seat with a dedication plaque on it, in front of a tall pine tree, houses and parked cars.

Just head down the waterfront walkways along Oriental Parade and park yourself onto one of the benches looking out onto Wellington Harbour to gain an appreciation for the work Bruce does for our city.

It’s a fine testament to two decades of good, honest mahi – work that makes him proud.

“Connecting with the members of our public and giving them safe assets to use makes me proud,” he says.

“We look after a lot of the sitting areas which our people use.

“But meeting and getting to know staff from all across the Council is the best part.

Bruce’s job isn’t always easy though. A lot of the benches along the waterfront are donations from Wellingtonians in their later years of their life.

“I have to meet with some families and people who are dying when they are looking to donate a seat,” he says.

“It can get quite stressful and can be a really sad thing for those families.”

The benches provide a fitting and long-lasting testament, one Bruce and his co-workers can be proud of playing their part in.

The Council has offered Bruce many opportunities over the 20-plus years he’s been with the organisation. However, none were more special than leading a tour to China in 2019.

A montage of two men, one in red costume, the other in black, posing three times on the Great Wall of China.

“I lead a team of Council Mandarin students on a once in a lifetime visit to four cities in China to promote a cultural experience and to foster our sister city relationships.

The travelling crew arrived in Xiamen, one of our sister cities, before heading to Xian in the central northern of China.

“From there we went to Beijing (a sister city of Wellington’s since 1994) and then took the train to Shanghai to wrap up the tour.

“It was a very full-on trip over just nine days.”

Of the experience, Bruce beams and says “it was once in a lifetime – I’ll never forget it!”

Wellington, like many places, has transformed since the 1970s – and Bruce has definitely taken notice.

“Since I moved from Malaysia, the city has become a lot more vibrant,” he ponders.

“There’s a lot more activities available for the public.”

It’s a happening city that the happily married Bruce gets to share with “three law-abiding sons and a cat”.

“We’ve lived out in Johnsonville and have been there for about 40-odd years – and I don’t see us going anywhere."

It’s 2021, so we’re sharing stories about 21 of our people who have worked at Council for 20 years or more. Find out more about the series in this story.