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Finding her groove in trucking

15 Sep 2020

Finding her groove in trucking

Casey MR26

Trucker-in-training Casey Kirk can’t say enough about how much she is loving her involvement in the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme.

The 46-year-old mother of eight from Te Puia is over the moon to be embarking on a new career. She’s worked plenty over the years, but this is proving to be something else.

She had her grounding and early training with Dave Pardoe at Tairāwhiti Road Transport and is now working with a Fulton Hogan crew on the Mata Road which took a pounding during recent bad weather.

Trucks are something very familiar to Casey, whose partner Hori Riwai has more than three decades in the industry. It was his boss Kevin McKay who suggested the Redeployment Programme to Casey. “I thought ‘yeah, why not’,” she says, “and my partner was right behind me too. I just love it – I am so enjoying the work and training.”

Casey is currently doing traffic management on the Mata Road after completing her traffic control qualifications. She has also gained her class 2, learners and full truck licences, will be doing class four this month and has class five firmly in her sights.

“They are awesome,” she says of Dave Pardoe and others on the programme. “Dave is the bomb doing this and giving us all this opportunity. They are pulling me along and helping me achieve all this. I just want to drive trucks in civil construction or cartage.”

Her whānau are also right behind her. Her children, who range in age from 26 to 10, are more than happy to help at home to ensure Mum gets the support she needs to do her job. “The four older ones tend to things at home. They are all really awesome kids. They know they have to do it so I can go to work now. I should have done this years ago but the time was never really right.”

Her contract with Fulton Hogan is for 12 weeks but she is hopeful that could be extended to full time. “There are a lot of women in trucking now,” says Casey. “It is good to see. It is great to be outside and doing things.”

Having lived on the coast her whole life she knows the roads there can be challenging. “I am going to be working on them and making sure our communities can get where they need to be.”

She has plenty of sympathy for those on the Mata Road where she is currently working. “It is really good to see that road getting done and to be a part of that,” she says.

“This whole thing does seem a bit surreal really. I always said once it was my time I would be out there . . . that time in now.”

The re-metalling project is one of five that are part of the $23.755m Redeployment Programme which was established in response to the impacts of COVID-19 and aims to provide work and training for up to 200 people.

It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council. All those on the programme come through the Ministry of Social Development, with the goal to ensure they not only find work but pick up new skills, qualifications and the opportunity of meaningful, long-term employment.

For more information on the redeployment programme