Hardwork and ambition

Thirty-seven-year-old Kareaua Karokoua has had a short but ambitious career in trucking. It was 2010 when Kare and his wife Eritebwa Mauteka moved to New Zealand from the tiny mid-Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. But Kare didn’t immediately find himself in the driving seat. In fact, he’s only been driving for about five years.

“I had to find a job offer when we arrived, which was hard. But I was lucky to find a job at Perry Metals in 2011. I worked there as a labourer for five years, operating the gantry cranes, which gave me the feeling for using cranes,” he explains. “But I didn’t want to be stuck there all my life. I wanted to be out earning more money.”

Kare’s cousin was a truck driver, and he encouraged him to get his licence. It was an idea Kare liked, and he started putting the wheels in motion while continuing his day job at Perry Metals.

“At Christmas, everyone took time off, but I kept going. The next year, I booked my course and took my annual leave for two weeks then,” he says.

As soon as Kare achieved his class 2, he started looking for driving jobs and got one with Nick Pemberton Construction. “That’s where I started my trucking experience. When I got my class 4, finding a permanent job became a lot easier. There was heaps of opportunity.”

After a stint with CV Compton, Kare moved to Total Access, but soon he had the desire to get his trailer licence. “I sorted that out myself as well. I approached my boss, but he said I’d have to wait as the company didn’t have class-5 jobs available. So, I said, ‘All good. I’ll pay for it myself.’

“I’ve spent a lot of money on trucking. But I really enjoy it, so I don’t mind the expense of paying for the licences.”

While working at Total Access, Kare looked for class-5 driving jobs and applied at Les Harrison Transport about 18 months ago. “I really like it here; they look after me.

“My class-5 experience started here. Driving with a trailer wasn’t easy at first. But I’d practised every weekend – never missed one – until I started to get the idea and got the feeling for it,” Kare explains.

Kare has five kids (the oldest at school in Kiribati) and hopes some might follow him into driving. “Maybe my sons, but I don’t know about the girls,” he says with a laugh. “The kids enjoy sitting in the trucks; it’s a good experience for them. Even if customers’ kids like the trucks, I let them sit inside and take a photo.”