Since it was founded in 1955, the Wharehine Group has built a strong reputation in civil contracting.
Based in Wellsford, just north of Auckland, it is now one of the largest employers in the Rodney/Kaipara region and has made a commitment to developing local youth and contributing to the community.
After joining the Youth Employer Pledge programme, Wharehine set a goal of increasing the proportion of young people in its business to 15 per cent; the company operates with some 100 employees.
Youth bring new energy and new thinking, and we are proud to be able to provide them with a range of opportunities and help them embark on a career pathway.
-- Rob Gibson,
Managing Director, Wharehine Group.
Building long-term careers
Wharehine’s operating divisions include Construction (bulk earthworks, roading, and land and infrastructure development), Quarries (producing aggregates), Transport Haulage, and Mechanical (fleet workshops and transport and engineering parts retail store). The company works on large-scale projects, which during 2014 and 2015 included works from Matakana to Hobsonville for retail and commercial centres, residential subdivisions, retirement villages and upgrading Warkworth Showgrounds, as well as an ongoing road maintenance contract with Auckland Transport.
Young staff can embark on careers such as becoming qualified plumbers, drainlayers and traffic managers, or gaining all the licences to drive big machinery.
All new employees have a review with their managers within three months of starting with the company, and at this meeting future career directions can be established. Wharehine also provides support for additional training.
Finding their future workforce
Traditionally, Wharehine relied on school-leavers from Rodney and Mahurangi Colleges to grow its future workforce, but it has now broadened its search. Wharehine attended the 2015 JobFEST in Albany and talked with more than 100 young people, where they met a variety of potential candidates.
“We look for young people with the right attitude and ambition,” says Rob Gibson, Wharehine Managing Director. “Youth bring new energy and new thinking, and we are proud to be able to provide them with a range of opportunities and help them embark on a career pathway.”
Long-term ambitions for young apprentice
Harley Hirovanaa didn’t waste any time joining the workforce after he left Mahurangi College in late 2013.
While still at school, Harley had joined the Snells Beach Volunteer Fire Brigade where the fire chief, Jason Connelly, was also a foreman at Wharehine.
“My father was a contractor and I was used to being around heavy machinery. I thought I would give it a try and ask Jason about a job.”
He began working as a labourer but had bigger ambitions, so when Wharehine offered him a four-year drainlaying apprenticeship in 2014 he jumped in boots and all.
I’m excited about gaining my knowledge from people within the company and pushing on to bigger things.
-- Harley Hirovanaa,
Apprentice, Wharehine Group
A sustainable career
“I wanted to become specialised at something that not a lot of people do and drainlaying is a good career path,’’ says Harley.
“You can take the trade wherever you go and with the way infrastructure development is now, there’s always a demand for good drainlayers.”
Harley was keen to learn and he fitted easily into the company’s operations and culture. He says drainlaying presents a lot of challenges.
“No job is exactly the same. I’m working with different people on different jobs and that variety helps me develop my skills. Once I finish the apprenticeship, I know I will have succeeded.”
During the first two years of his apprenticeship, Harley mixes practical work with night classes at Unitec. Once his study is completed he becomes a licensed drainlayer and two years later – with further working hours under his belt – he will become a registered drainlayer at the age of 22.
What's next for Harley
Harley is picking up plenty of experience by helping to install the drainage systems in a number of land development projects – including residential subdivisions at Snells Beach and Matakana, a new shopping centre in Warkworth, and the Amberlea Rest Home in Algies Bay.
“I’m excited about gaining my knowledge from people within the company and pushing on to bigger things. I wouldn’t mind adding plumbing and gas fitting, and with drainlaying all three seem to coincide with each other. That’s something to work towards.”
*Case study developed 2015.