Roading: East Coast contractors leading change
Above: Blackbee PGF culvert renewal team: Neihana Brown-Ratahi, John Brown, Shannon Tangaroa, David McClutchie.
Ruatorea-based contractors such as Blackbee, Kuru and Parata Contracting now offer the local community a future in roading, an alternative to forestry and farming which is changing the future for so many families.
Neihana Brown-Ratahi is the first non-family employee at Blackbee Contracting, also based in Ruatorea.
“When I returned to the East Coast to be closer to my kids two years ago, I had no idea I would end up working in roading. I now have the highest possible heavy machinery licence and I’m transporting million dollar machines around the coast.”
Twelve months ago Blackbee Contracting had three staff members, one truck and a digger. One year later, they now have ten full-time staff, four trucks and five diggers.
Boss Blackbee’s father founded the organisation 37 years ago, a legacy that Boss wants to continue.
“We are proud to be providing a quality service by and for East Coast people. We are now involved with repairing culverts across the region, we just love making our land safer for our people,” said Mr Blackbee.
The growth and opportunities on offer in the roading industry have also given Te Rangi Marie Bartlett (below) a new direction in life. Te Rangi Marie started three months ago as a traffic controller at Ruatorea-based Parata Contracting.
“This job has saved me. I now feel that I am a role model for Rehua, my son. I’m now committed to achieving my next goal of working on heavy machinery. I love the opportunities to grow in this job and the fact I am keeping my people safe,” said Ms Bartlett.
Parata Contracting operations manager, Kat Kaiwai, started the company in October last year and now has fourteen full-time employees.
“It is amazing how much pride our people take in providing this service to our community. Rangatahi who were once speeding up and down our local roads are now out there making a difference,” said Ms Kaiwai.
Kuru Contracting is expecting to grow from 52 current employees to in excess of 70 in the next two months. Kuru operations manager, Matanuku Parata, says that investing in local people and creating an organisational culture where people love to work is the key to success.
“The social aspect of the Provincial Growth Fund has started more conversations about the social return from investment for the local community. At Kuru, we’ve had this outlook for some time. Our focus is our people. Times are changing.”