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Kate de Lautour

Businesses in Central Hawke’s Bay are looking forward to the opportunities that will arise if the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS) goes ahead and the main theme is jobs, jobs and more jobs.

Specialist trades firm Turfrey currently have 34 staff based in Waipukurau with the team working on large scale projects, often outside Hawke’s Bay. They have recently completed the Napier Port Shed 9 project and will start work on a new project at Ohakea Air Base later this month.

“We have to look for work outside the region, but chances are, with a dam, we would be doing a lot more big projects closer to home,” owner Bruce Turfrey says.

Business growth organization the Icehouse has helped to map a plan of growth for the business, with plans to double Turfrey’s turnover in the next two years.

“We’d like to aim for staff levels up to 60 or 65.

“The dam would certainly speed up this process, and we are putting everything in place here to make sure we capitalize on any opportunities the dam build may present to us.


 “The Icehouse has shown us how to get systems in place and gives us something to build towards and it’s been brilliant for improving communications between the team.”

Turfrey says jobs for school leavers or apprentices are few and far between in the town, leaving local parents frustrated.

“We get demand from parents and knocks on the door every day for jobs but there just aren’t any, so most of the young people are heading to Ashburton to work as plumbers, roofers or drain layers.”

Around the corner at well-known farm machinery firm Stevenson and Taylor,  co-owner Bill Donnithorne says the dam will bring more jobs and energise  the main shopping area.

“Retailers are finding it tough out there.”

Stevenson and Taylor have 30 staff working across engineering, diesel shop, parts, sales, service and administration.

Donnithorne has plenty of conversations with counterparts in South Canterbury who are building their businesses and increasing jobs, with work based around irrigation schemes.

“There is one tractor dealer there who has gone from one branch to four, in a short space of time.”

“When I talk to dealers in Ashburton they say that irrigation schemes are the best thing that has ever happened to that area - that town is really humming.”

Donnithorne says the Ruataniwha dam will bring more jobs to Stevenson and Taylor and they will be across all areas.

“We will need to be there to support the farmers as it’s likely there will be bigger crops and more new types of crops and so more need for tractor parts plus engineering work on the irrigators.”