Five days a week, Marsha Pohatu drives from Gisborne to Hawke's Bay and back again. As a truck driver she is used to being on the road, but says there are a couple of things the industry needs to change in order to be safer.

She has been in the industry well over a decade, both as a driver and a manager.

"As manager you have to look after your staff, you have to respect them. Talk to them, don't bully them, bullying is not going to get you anywhere."

She said managers need to listen to their drivers' points of view and be a team player.


"You want to be a manager, you step up, you show them, okay, this is how we can do it."

"Managers need to understand, companies need to understand, CEOs need to understand, if you know how it rolls out there , we'll listen, if you don't, come and have a look, come and see how it works."

However she said communication goes both ways, and workers in the industry need to speak up to avoid burnout.

She said there was a huge driver shortage in the industry, which better pay could help with.

"You've got to reward them just like how you'd want to be rewarded."

While she only drives five, sometimes six days a week now, Pohatu says it to her a long time to get to that point, she used to work seven days a week when working as a manager in Auckland, which took a toll on her family.

Nowadays, there are times she tries to avoid driving, Friday evenings being one in particular due to drink-drivers. Another is Sunday morning.

"Sundays ... I have to leave Gisborne pretty much before 8am to avoid the church traffic."


"Church people ... they are just as ruthless, all racing to get to church before it starts."

She said it was important for people to remember that if it came to a crash between a car and a truck, the truck was going to win.

While Pohatu used to be one of only a few women in the industry, more and more women are joining it.

"Women do have the respect on the roads, and respect their gear."

She would recommend driving as a career to young women.

"If you want to see the country, it's perfect way to see it and get paid for it."

She said you did have to be strong enough to handle what the guys throw at you, and be game enough to throw it back.

"Don't let them run you over, you can do it."

It is estimated New Zealand's trucking industry is about 4000 driver short.

A recent exposé by The Spinoff found that, as a result, drivers were often working between 70 and 90 hours a week.