No Place like Home

In Short Story September 20215 MinutesBy Dave McCoidOctober 29, 2021

Two things will largely determine the success or failure of any new business venture. First, the reason you got started, and second, the people you surround yourself with on the journey. We’ve well established Manuel Haulage’s reason for being and daily philosophy; now it’s time to tip our hat to another cornerstone of the business’ survival in those critical early days – the sublime, yet humble Mr Feki.

Ray Feki knew from the outset he wasn’t just a driver on loan; he understood that his was a critical role if these two late arrivals to the industry were going to ‘roll some serious coal’, to use an old US trucker’s phrase.

Although born, raised, and schooled in Tauranga, 48-year-old Ray Feki’s family roots were also on the Coast in Tikitiki.

Ray was around trucks pretty much from the start. His grandfather Henare Tekoari drove in the 28th Maori Battalion, Company B, and later went on to drive for a living. And Uncle Saul, who drove for Heatons and later Turners and Growers, was a source of trips “all over the country”, as Ray described it.

As he came into his own, he formed a friendship with NZL Transport owner-driver Dave Waterhouse, who ran a Kenworth K124. In fact, at age 19, that truck was Ray’s first real driving job, on general flat-deck work.

From there, he did stints with Turners and Growers North Island and Mainfreight. Then, in 1999, he took a position with Weatherell Transport, again North Islandwide.

In 2001, Ray decided he wanted to establish links with the East Coast and moved home.

“I wanted to come home and re-establish links with my mother’s family and where I’m from,” says Ray.

That was where he found his first log truck job, working as we said for the late Colin Everitt’s Prolog operation. In 2003, Ray moved to Geoff Hill and Coastal Logging Patutahi, amassing more log experience, but like so many contractors and workers in the region he was a casualty of the forestry industry’s Huagang crisis of that year, loosing his job.

With a young family to look after, he moved to Rotorua and took work with Rotorua Forest Haulage where he stayed for 12 months until an opportunity to move home and work at Pacific Haulage Ltd came up.

“Clavin Paddon, who ran the workshop at Pacific Haulage, was another huge influence on me,” he says.

Ray had always had a hankering for a bit of offhighway work on the big gear, so in 2015, he headed back to Rotorua, where he found work driving for RFH in its off-highway operation in the Kaingaroa.

“I loved the work. You really get a feel for weight in there. It’s unreal. But I didn’t really connect with Rotorua as a place to live. Not sure what it was. I guess I realised the East Coast was home.”

He returned home to Chubb and Agnes’ Rewi Haulage before destiny led him to Tutu and Raewyn, and his role helping them stand Manuel Haulage on its feet.

Today Ray’s a happy bloke. Immensely proud of two daughters, Leah (24) who works for the Justice Dept in the community, and Sarah who at 19 is on the go-line of adventure and opportunity.

Yeah,” says Ray, “This is home down here; there’s no question. This is home.”

Ray said he wanted to acknowledge the following people who have helped, influenced, and mentored his career: Dave Waterhouse, NZL Transport owner-driver, Mt Maunganui; Colin Everitt (RIP), Prolog Haulage, Gisborne; Geoff Hill, Coastal Logging Patutahi, Gisborne; Calvin Paddon, Pacific Haulage, Gisborne; Tutu and Raewyn Manuel, Tolaga Bay, Rangitukia.

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