Right people. Job done. That used to be the motto of AWF in Kaitaia (Now it's Keeping New Zealand working) — and there is no better advertisement for either mission statement than Topsy Morunga.
Topsy, who has been with AWF for 14 years, and Fulton Hogan for 11, was at work last week on SH10 at Kaingaroa, where the construction of a retaining wall and resealing was nearing completion.
And the prospect of another long (12-hour) day, not counting the two-and-a-half hour commute from Panguru to Kaitaia and back again, did nothing to remove the smile from her face.
She is employed by Fulton Hogan, via AWF, as a site traffic management supervisor (STMS), a position that comes with significant responsibility. It is up to her to ensure that no one, from her fellow traffic management staff and the machinery operators to the general public, comes to any harm. And if something does go wrong, she will be the first person who is asked to explain why.
"There is no downtime," she said.
"People think we just stand around, but there is a lot of work to do, and a lot of responsibility," she said.
"Basically I'm here to keep everyone safe. And we have our moments. The 30km/h speed limit means 300 to some, and some drivers don't know what a 'Stop' sign means. They're not from here. They're tourists."
She was very much part of a team though, her daily routine including taking her turn on the Stop/Go signs when her colleagues had their breaks.
She leaves home in time to be in Kaitaia by 6.30am, and heads home again at 6.30pm. Her husband Wiremu understands — he works for Fulton Hogan (as a roller driver) via AWF too, and last week was in Kaikohe, requiring a similar commute.
"It's a job," Topsy said.
"It wasn't going to come to me at Panguru."
If there was a frustration it was drivers who did not obey temporary speed limits, risking life and limb for themselves and others, who didn't appreciate how much damage vehicles travelling faster than they should could do to new seal, or understand how obeying temporary speed limits reduced the chances of their cars being damaged by flying metal chips.
It doesn't get her down though. She's happy in her work — Fulton Hogan, she said, and been very good to both her and her husband — and mention of the word 'retirement' was met with a smile and silence. But if she isn't planning to hang up her hi-vis vest any time soon, she was looking forward to having a couple of weeks off over Christmas.
"That's the plan anyway," she said, "but who knows? Things can change.
"Were not intending to go anywhere though. We'll leave the roads to the mad buggers. The city slickers can have it."
Flexibility is the key
AWF has a significant profile in Kaitaia, but many probably don't realise that it is one of the town's biggest employers. And it's not a matter of waiting for the phone to ring.
Manager Tracee Knowler said more than a hundred people would be at work in and around Kaitaia on any given day, many of them undertaking full-time work with local firms, including Juken NZ and Fulton Hogan.
"If you ever encounter road works, and we all do on a daily basis at this time of year, chances are the traffic management people will be from AWF," she said.
"And they do a great job."
Employment via AWF could and regularly did lead to permanent work, not only for those who had regular positions but also for the 'floaters,' who made themselves available when needed, often at very short notice.
"What we're looking for is clients who need people who are willing, and very able, to undertake all sorts of work, just a day or two, a week or longer-term," Ms Knowler added.
Some of those on the roster had specific, highly-valued skills, including drivers.
"We're actually looking for work and workers," she said, "and apart from the statutory holidays we'll be on deck throughout the Christmas/New Year period."