I can do that too

In Short Story December 2022 / January 20236 MinutesBy Dave McCoidJanuary 20, 2023

Tania Buschl must have been off school the day they studied obstacles and excelled the day tenacity and self-belief were headings on the blackboard. This slightly built, humble, personable, giant of a woman shuns the thought of attention, yet she is one of the country’s beacons for any aspiring lass who seeks to acquit herself with distinction at the top of the driving industry.

A native of the Tasman region, 43-year-old Tania grew up on a dairy farm in Brightwater, attending school locally.

“I’m a farm girl at heart,” she says with a smile. “I had a thing about farms and farm machinery right from the start. I like the challenge of driving new things.”

Post-school, she took work pumping petrol at a local service station while, as she puts it “I figured out what it was I wanted to do. I noticed the trucks coming in and fuelling up and thought, ‘that’s what I want to do. I want to drive a big truck.’”

With the decision made, she set about making it all happen, signing up at a local polytechnic where she gained her Class 2 licence, plus wheels, tracks, and rollers.

From there, Tania cut out into the real world. Twenty- odd years ago, starting at the bottom was still the only path.

“My first truck was an old, crappy Isuzu. It was absolutely buggered, but it was a start.”

For the next two decades, Tania expanded her skill sets and experience across all manner of trucks and machinery, never deterred and never put off. In that time, she has driven tip trucks for Fulton Hogan and Downers, and worked on major local roading projects such as the SH60 Ruby Bay bypass, the huge deviation linking Appleby near Richmond to the Tasman settlement at the southern end of the Moutere Inlet. “The only thing I haven’t driven is a grader,” she says with a grin. There’s an obvious pride in the journey, and where she’s worked her way to.

Log trucks and Tasman go together like instant pudding and ice cream and eight years ago Tania decided to try her hand, starting work with Richmond-based Waimea Contract Carriers. In this part of the country, log truck drivers on the early and late rounds load themselves, so her machine experience positioned her perfectly.

Almost a decade on, still at Waimea, a little over a month ago she came off the T659 Kenworth she was driving and was given the keys to a brand ‘newy’, fleet No.426.

“Jenny and Peter [McIntyre] are great people to work for. If you give them a fair day’s work, they really look after you. I do enjoy working for them. It’s also great having a female boss. There’s no question it helps when you’re a female in the industry yourself.”

Of course, don’t think for a moment the farming ceased through all of this. In terms of work ethic, this woman’s blood needs bottling, and until recently, she was also part- owner in her own farm. That’s now been sold and she’s back home on the family farm in Brightwater and helping her 74-year-old dad on the significant land holding on which she grew up.

“I love it. Love the farming, love the driving. Sometimes I think I should slow down a bit, but I enjoy weekends on the farm helping Dad, and I love my job driving my log truck.”

Tania Buschl is the living embodiment of so much. She easily ticks all the goal-setting, stay focused, work hard, ask, learn, listen, boxes of any life manual. Even, ‘size is no barrier, if your heart and soul are there in abundance’, and she certainly proves that. But probably her greatest gift will be that of inspiration, maybe to a young lady she may never meet, someone who reads her story in a publication like this and decides, ‘Yes, I can do that too!’


What a way to end the year – talk about going out on a high note. Thanks to Jenny and Peter McIntyre for your time, enthusiasm and access to your business. Thanks also to Craig Sim and Phil Harris for taking time out of your day. There’s a special welcoming air at Waimea, for sure.

Thanks to Nigel Bryant Logging and Rakau Logging for allowing us to film loading.

Thanks, as always, to Mike Gillespie at Southpac – a great bunch who always provide information so quickly and enthusiastically. Thanks also to Aaron Burson at T.A.T.E.S. for answering the call.

And Tania Buschl… A role model for anyone wanting to operate heavy equipment regardless of who they are. Just an awesome person and a fantastic couple of days. Thanks for your patience and willingness to help.