Women In Transport – Pulling power

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 16, 2018

Christine Hoori has retired from driving – for now. When she made the break back in January she thought it was permanent; now she is not so sure. We meet a woman for whom the pulling power of driving may be too much to resist. 

Photo: Christine in the cut and thrust of a job she loved, working at Fonterra.

That‘s the pulling power of driving for those with a passion for it. A memory of it.

Christine came to driving late in life. She was 39 in 2005 when she started double-shifting for her husband, James, on the Auckland-Taupo run behind the wheel of the family owned Argosy under contract to Tranz Ottaway. It was not an auspicious start to her driving career. Three months in on a brilliantly fine Saturday just outside of Taupo, Christine had just gone for a dip in the lake. She felt refreshed, alive, and happy to have the opportunity to share James‘s passion for driving.

What she didn‘t have, she admits, was James‘s experience. She entered the corner at speed – too much speed. From the rollover that followed, Christine suffered only superficial grazing. More long-term, it gave her a huge respect for what she was driving and, as a result, she says she became a better driver.

Photo: These days Christine is one of the operators of Whangarei‘s impressive opening bridge, Te Matau a Pohe. She says it is a great job, but the former Fonterra driver hasn‘t ruled out a return to trucking.

In 2006 the couple were drawn home to Northland and the prospect of jobs with Fonterra. James got a job immediately, but Christine‘s relative inexperience worked against her. It took three attempts and 13 months before she succeeded in securing a driving job with the company.

Right through that process, however, Christine retained her optimism and pragmatism – attributes that she exhibits to this day.

“In those days it was really hard to get anything other than a temp job with Fonterra, particularly if you lacked experience. But I believe what will be will be, and if it is meant to be it will be. I just believed I would eventually be given a job if I kept trying. I was so proud when Fonterra gave me my driving job. James and I were working for the same company and earning the same money. It was great.”

Photo: At the wheel of the Scania, “Loving the freedom of being out there.” 

In 2012 the lure of even bigger money and James‘s desire to work the road trains took the couple to Australia and a two-up driving stint as a team on the Brisbane to Perth run. Christine says she learnt a lot on that route and driving a “full-on” B-double – and on occasion road trains – was, she says, quite an experience.

In August 2014, Christine and James returned to Northland: James straight back into a job with Fonterra, Christine taking a break, working in childcare.

That couldn‘t last. Driving was drawing Christine back and in early 2015 she reapplied for her old job at Fonterra, and got it. Eventually, however, it was the night shift that got to her. In January this year she left Fonterra to become a bridge operator at the Open Bridge entrance to Whangarei Marina, where she works today.

Photo: Parked for a break in Kawakawa.

While it‘s a good job, and Christine seems content, when the logging trucks and the Fonterra tankers roll across that bridge, she knows driving still has a hold on her, pulling her back in. When asked if she‘ll ever go back to it, her eyes glisten and she begins to tear up.

“I struggled with the decision to leave. Fonterra is like a family and I love the freedom of being out there on the road. Will I go back to driving? I don‘t know. “I know I miss it, though, miss it a lot.”