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A rewarding career

Zoë Taylor has found her happy place working in landscaping after 10 years in the workforce doing a range of jobs from processing and packaging, to food production, administration and customer service

Now a team leader at Betts & Bishops Landscaping and Construction Ltd in New Plymouth, Zoë wants to get the word out to other women that there are great opportunities in the trades.  

“I have done a multitude of jobs since finishing university, but I have never had the progression I've had since I got into studying towards a trade qualification.”

In her final year of school, Zoë went on a 12-month student exchange to Nagasaki, Japan, before completing her degree, a Bachelor of International Studies and Japanese language, at the International Pacific College.

After graduating, she sought a role using her qualification but didn’t land the type of job she wanted, instead taking on administration and customer service roles.

A keen triathlete, Zoë found her office day jobs were not satisfying her drive to succeed and hindered her ability to get out and train.

“I like being outdoors. I kept thinking ‘what can I do that is outdoors and will fit with my training?’ Perhaps something in horticulture or landscaping.” 

In 2019, she moved to Wellington from Taranaki and “decided to look for work that would allow me to be outdoors and fit with my training”.   

Falling in love… with landscaping

The seed was sown when an agency placed her in a role at City Care, working on parks and recreation areas. Her next step was a role with Aspen Landscapes Ltd, where she was encouraged to do the Primary ITO amenity apprenticeship – on-the-job learning that teaches the skills and knowledge to build and maintain stunning gardens and public spaces.

“I absolutely loved it,” says Zoë. “Starting from a blank canvas and transforming people’s properties into something beautiful – I get a real satisfaction from that achievement.”

Zoë’s passion for the industry was evident, as was her skill, and she was quickly promoted to Team Leader with Aspen. She completed her apprenticeship earlier this year and, soon after, moved back to Taranaki, where she landed the role as a Team Lead with Betts & Bishop.

But one apprenticeship under her belt isn’t enough for this high achiever. Zoë is now working on a landscape construction apprenticeship through Primary ITO and is about to start an online Landscape Design course with Wintec.

“I am absolutely loving living in Taranaki and the work/life balance is amazing,” she says. When I'm not obsessing with everything landscaping, I am obsessing with triathlons still and can't wait for my next event!

Rallying gender diversity

Zoë is enthusiastic about encouraging other women into landscaping. She says the work particularly suits those who like to keep fit.

“It is tough work, but the satisfaction is amazing. You get the endorphins from the work itself and then you get to see the before and after of what you have produced,” she says.

“You could spend loads of money going to a gym to get fit, but with this job you don’t need to.”

When Zoë worked at Aspen, there were eight women in the team, and she says the skills they bring often compliment those of the men. “Women look at things in a different way and often bring more of that detail to completing a job.”

With landscapers in high demand, Zoë says there’s plenty of opportunities for jobs, study and a career path, and she’s found it easy to fit the study in around her work.

“It has been awesome. I have learnt heaps at the classes and been able to put everything I am learning back into my daily work.”

While Zoë previously would have said that soft landscaping was her passion, she is really enjoying the construction side of things and says there are no limits.

“I enjoy learning anything and everything to with landscaping, so there’s no telling where that might end!”

Slow but steady shift

Primary ITO’s sector manager for landscaping and arboriculture Mark Orr says the make-up of the sector is changing, albeit slowly. Of the 621 people currently training in landscaping, just under 10% are women.

“In the past, there were very few women training in landscaping, but that number is rising. At the start of June, there were 61 women in on-the-job landscaping training – which is significantly more than the 39 women at the same time last year,” says Mark.

“It can definitely get better, but it’s a great start, especially given it was only about 15 years ago that the first woman graduated from a landscaping apprenticeship.

He said it’s worth noting that women are also involved in other parts of the industry, such as design or management roles, which might not be captured by Primary ITO’s numbers.

Primary ITO offers landscaping apprenticeships and training. For more information on landscape and other training, visit or call 0800 20 80 20.


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