Thinking safe with Gurt and Pops

“We must use our ‘Think Safe Brains’!” said Poppy.Harriet Bremner
“Our bright orange vests help us to look safe but to be really careful out there we also must think safe.”

For author Harriet Bremner, being safe and being seen are critical messages parents and teachers should be getting through to their children.

Growing up on the Banks Peninsula, Harriet or ‘Gurt’, moved into the Hakataramea Valley with her partner James and miniature dachshund Poppy in 2014. Despite dreams of writing a children’s book, it wasn’t always an option for Harriet. In between working as a teacher and helping on the farm, life became busy and writing was left by the wayside.

When James passed away in a devastating farm accident in 2017, Harriet put her grief to paper and Bob ‘n’ Pops was realised. “I was sitting with my family and told them that I wanted to write a book… 10 minutes later and I had it written,” says Harriet. James, affectionately known as ‘Bob’ and Poppy (“Pops”) were best friends. The little dog spent most of her life up his jersey, helping around the farm.

With attitude beyond her size she was a natural fit for the lead character in the ‘Gurt and Pops’ series. “I wanted to write stories with specific, deep and meaningful messages in them,” says Harriet. Illustrated by Cantabrian Dana Johnstone, Bob ‘n’ Pops was Harriet’s first venture onto the page, exploring how surrounding yourself with good people is key to success. Her second has come in the form of Be Safe, Be Seen, a children’s book that addresses on-farm health and safety.

“People assume that non-safety conscious people are the only ones dying in farm accidents but that’s not the case,” Harriet stresses. The ‘Be Safe, Be Seen’ message emphasises being safe before being seen and is not only targeted at children but teachers, parents and those reading the book to young ones.

“Health and safety in its current form is not sexy, it feels like more paperwork and is being shoved to the side but there needs to be more conversation about decision making. There are farmers doing great things but people get complacent… we need to change the culture and behaviour.”

“From my experience, the safety message is not getting through to children. We can get adults having important conversations with kids in a fun way through a book with cool characters and a strong message.”
Harriet says the ‘Think Safe Brain’ goes back to making practical decisions and using common sense.

“Just because you have ticked off the paperwork and have put your high-vis vest on does not mean that accidents won’t happen… the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”

Harriet is now working with Safer Farms, speaking to groups at workshops, conferences and schools. With more books on the way, Harriet is committed to instilling Poppy’s message into the next generation of farmers.

To purchase a Gurt and Pops book, visit your local Farmlands branch. To enquire about Harriet speaking to your group see harrietbremner.com