Since footage of two road workers flipping cones went viral, a fierce debate has opened up on the men's actions and on Kiwi workers' rights to have some fun on the job.

The clip, filmed near Waihī, shows two road workers engaged in a game of flipping road cones through the air to try and land them on the base.

The man who filmed the clip wasn't impressed, not by their failed attempts to land the throws, but by what he saw as their lacklustre work ethic.

"This is what our tax money pays for, it pays for these guys to chuck cones around," he said.


Most commenters on the original video supported the pair, however, saying the video didn't truly capture their working day, with one adding that "traffic control isn't an easy job".

The Herald was flooded was responses after yesterday's story, with readers chiming in to tell us what they thought was acceptable when it comes to slacking off - and what was not.

Most Kiwis will remember a time when work was slow and their minds or hands wandered. Anyone for office cricket? Or just killing some time on Facebook or YouTube?

But for some correspondents, the road workers' actions were anything but innocent.

"Quite unprofessional, and dangerous!" wrote one. "Considering the health and safety measures to adhere to, a misplaced cone can cost thousands."

Top effort. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Top effort. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Another recalled their time working in traffic control at a sporting event, writing that out-of-position cones could lead to significant fines and labelled the behaviour in the video "very dangerous".

Business owner Murray Harvey thought that the cone-flipping presented a risk to passing motorists, arguing that the company would be liable for any ensuing damage.

Harvey added that: "The customer is not paying for that sort of work ethic," and expressed concern that, if the men were on a break, that they had not retired to "the truck or smoko office".


The majority of respondents took a different view, however, arguing that the workers were not deserving of scrutiny and that their behaviour mirrored that of workers up and down the country.

"It's just flipping the cones. Is everyone telling me that they are super serious at their job every minute and every hour? Pffttt get a life," wrote one.

The sentiment was echoed by many, with another reader contacting the Herald to say flipping cones was "better than just staring at a phone or chain-smoking a pack of cigarettes".

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The men's skill in the art of cone-throwing was questioned, by some, although one person did note that they achieved a "mean height".

A reader contacted the Herald to share a video he shot last year of a roadworker in Wellington almost nailing a trick shot.

Road worker in central Wellington tries out a cone trick. Video / Ciaron O hAileagain

Ciaron O hAileagain told the Herald that he witnessed the man's casual but skilful flip during roadworks on Cuba St in Wellington last year, leading him to wish that he "got paid to sink cones".

Other professions were called into question, with one reader questioning how productive our politicians really are.

"Ever watched a caucus meeting in action? They're 'wasting' probably 10x what these fullas are getting," he wrote.

Office workers didn't get off lightly either. "Oh honestly. You try standing out there all day. They get a big 10 from me for being creative and innovative in terms of generating fun in mahi that would otherwise be not much fun," one Facebook commenter added.

"Get a life and go catch those office executives who sit around and waste their employers money, on Facebook... oops, better go, someone's coming".

The road workers might be in some distinguished company. Alex Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, looked into some of the most important minds in human history and found that most only worked four hours a day.

Charles Darwin, responsible for the theory of evolution, would work away for three or four hours in the morning, then knock off. He would take personal time for the afternoon, have a snooze and do 90 minutes more mahi before bed.

In 2018, Pang told Wired that big brains like Darwin weren't slacking off when they weren't working. They were engaged in "active rest", taking part in intentional activity to stimulate the mind.

Mean height. Photo / Supplied
Mean height. Photo / Supplied

Survival of the fittest.