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Following on from high school, a lot of young people from Kakahi moved away for employment opportunities.

"They jump ship. There's kind of not many options here. Say for instance some end up in the shearing sheds. In forestry. Whatever work is available. Cheap work at that, too, I must admit. Cheap hard work. But that's what there is for work. It's good work if you put your head down and your bum up. But hard work."
"At the hospital they try really hard, if there are students local to Taumarunui they try hard to keep them, to incentivise them to come and work back in the country. It's hard when you can't compete with the wages they'll get in Australia or the opportunities they get in the big city. They try really hard, go into the schools and talk to the kids about careers but it's hard."
"There’s not much out there for our rangatahi, for the ones finishing school. A lot of them get into trouble, not just Māori. Not just Māori. It’s all our people. There’s not much, not much out there going for them. Going from school to work is hard, it’s harder now. We were lucky back in our day, there used to be railways, freezing works, Ministry of Works, the Borough Council. There were a lot of things back then that we don’t have now."

Some felt that changing land use, particularly forestry, impacted job availability:

"One of the big ones is there's no industry around here, no, very little industry. There's also little industrial land as well. We've got carbon forestry coming out here buying up farms and doing forestry, you've got that going on. So sheep numbers are going down, down, down. That’s a big one."
"It’s been a big, big industry for a long time, forestry in and around Taumarunui. I’ve been doing forestry for the last twenty years. There’s not much else unless you’re shearing or farming. Even farming is getting hard to get work now."
"Kaitiekeis a glaring example. You drive down there now and there’s hardly a farm left, it’s mainly planted out. Kaitieke used to be the heart of the area for hardy breeding stock down there. You know, that’s, well, that’s just as I see it."
"The more forestry is coming in the less other people are required in the area because the farms are gone. Schools are suffering. It’s taken over a lot of productive farmlands. Some of the forestry, the carbon credit people, don’t want the rugged back country, they want the easy country. They don’t have the problem of roading it. So your good farmland goes."
"We were told all this land back in the 90s, all this land going into forestry would benefit our area because they would employ local. All those things would benefit us, provide employment. None of that happened. All those logs which have just been harvested it's all trucked out and the only local person that got employed is the ones that do the windrows."

In Kakahi and the surrounding areas participants felt that, as outlined above, there were there less farming-related jobs available due to increase in carbon farming, but also because foreign labour had an impact on job availability:

"A lot of the contractors now are bringing in foreign workers, Fijians, or … to come and take those jobs. Cheaper labour. Cheaper labour. And that goes straight back to their homes, and good on them. But not back into our community."

Some residents felt that there was not a big ‘digital nomad’ culture in Kakahi, though others noted some who did work remotely in the area:

"No not really."
"If they're doing it, they're doing it from home so you can't see it! You can only talk about what you see."
"I know that for one of (redacted), she lives in Wellington, but she comes home and works two weeks from home and then goes back."
"And (reacted) does, doesn't he?"
"Oh, yes, he'd be one."
"And (redacted)'s son, he's back here".
"I was going to say I could think of some. There's (redacted). They went to Auckland and hated it and came back home and she works from home."

Whereas in 2020 there was considerable discussion about the potential for employment with the development of the tourism sector on both large and small scales, tourism was only mentioned on one occasion in 2023:

"The world fishing championships were held on that river. It’s a highly fished area. We get a lot of fishermen, both local as in New Zealand, and international. And most of them, just about every single one are catch and release. Photograph and release. It gives me an income."

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