Leaving school at 13, Mirinoa Pickering spent the next few years “floating around and getting into trouble.” Reflecting on that time, Mirinoa says she hadn’t realized the importance of education. Keen to explore her passion for writing and inspire her daughter to pursue higher education, Mirinoa decided to return to the world of learning and began a Diploma in Applied Writing with Northtec in 2016.
Discovering a love of learning, Mirinoa decided to pursue her other interest, business.
She saw that the eCampus NZ offered the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Introduction to Small Business) (Level 3), and she enrolled in 2018.
After successfully completing this qualification, Mirinoa was “hooked”.
She made the decision to continue her learning journey with eCampus NZ, and 2019, she was awarded a New Zealand Certificate in Business (Small Business)(Level 4). She also managed to finish her Diploma in Applied Writing with Northtec in the same year. “It was very busy and a little stressful!” she says. But about her courses with eCampus NZ, Mirinoa enthuses, “Every single teacher I’ve had has been awesome! They’re there to help you stay motivated and keep your head in the right space to be able to complete your courses.” Now she is working towards a New Zealand Diploma in Business (Accounting) (Level 5).
Last year, everything started to click into place for Mirinoa. With her new skills, she began to develop and implement an effective small business plan for her very own business, Guardian Tours Ltd. Mirinoa says, “At the end of Level 4, I felt confident in my business plan and how to make it work.”
Learning online meant that Mirinoa was able to work part-time and save money to cover start-up costs.
“I was able to get a part-time job and work at the same time as doing my studies. I was gaining academic experience while working in retail to get practical experience. It all came together at once.”
Mirinoa registered Guardian Tours Ltd. in July last year and was able to begin operating in December.
Guardian Tours offers a range of affordable experiences to cruise ship passengers, from tours of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Kawiti Glow Worm caves to local honey and wine tastings. Guardian Tours was an instant hit with passengers from Ovation of the Seas when it docked in Paihia last year, selling out tours for the entire day. “This was just the beginning of something amazing.”
Mirinoa has been able to offer work to her father, sister, uncles, nieces, and nephews through Guardian Tours, including whānau who couldn’t find work elsewhere. “It’s a family thing.”
Asked what helped her most in her studies with eCampus NZ, Mirinoa says, “The course content is broken down so it’s not only easy to understand, but it’s also easy to apply it to everyday experiences.”
Mirinoa says that successful online learning is all about making time.
“Make time every day to go and have a look and do a little bit. If you can make the time to do a little bit every day, it makes all the difference at the end.”