Proud to be part of an industry that moves New Zealand

In News4 MinutesBy Nick LeggettApril 14, 2023

After almost four and a half years as chief executive, it’s time for me to move on. But in my new role at Infrastructure New Zealand, I’ll still be advocating for better roads and transport systems, because it’s a topic I feel passionately about.

 I am grateful and proud to have worked for an industry that literally moves New Zealand. Road transport is made up of some terrific people who will drop everything to move freight for their customers. Most people don’t know the trials and tribulations of the work, because the industry does such a great job.

 Working in this job is the best way to learn how the economy works. You see first-hand the kinds of initiatives that make sure the supply chains run.

COVID-19, economic pressures, and now extreme weather events have shown New Zealanders how effective and necessary road transport is to keeping people alive and keeping our economy productive.

Road transport keeps moving even when the rest of us stop.

However, the industry faces some major key challenges. We need to project a coherent case and advocate effectively to government. But that can be a struggle to do that because the industry continues to have three industry organisations, instead of just one. This makes no sense. Everywhere I go, people who work with the industry tell me that there should be one organisation.

If you strongly believe that, I challenge you to do something about it. Please put your money where your mouth is. I’ve been proud to work for Transporting New Zealand because it’s the only organisation that actively supports a merger into one organisation. This is the only way the industry can be truly influential and see its scale and importance recognised.

One thing I am proud of is getting Te ara ki tua Road to success traineeship qualifications underway. Seeing the businesses and the men and women who work in the trucking industry increase their profile has been hugely satisfying. The people who do the work day and night to keep the trucks moving deserve to have their stories told in the media and to government.

But the industry must face reality. When it comes to training, the only people who are going to invest to train and qualify drivers is you. Road to success gives all businesses, whether they are large or small, a nationally recognised training pathway with real qualifications. The collective mindset of the industry often is that training is someone else’s job and that people will just leave after employers invest in them. I think it was Bill Richardson who said that he’d rather train someone and see them leave, than not train them and have them stay.

The industry must grow its own future workforce from a range of ages, different backgrounds, cultures, sexual orientations, and beliefs. It’s time the road transport industry fully embraced training and diversity. Those businesses that do that will have a future, and they will attract a workforce that expects nothing less.

Transporting New Zealand general manager Dom Kalasih will become acting chief executive until a permanent CEO is appointed. The industry is fortunate to have someone of Dom’s experience and calibre to take over.

By Nick Leggett, chief executive, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand.