Home' Napier Mail : August 9th 2011 Contents 13
NAPIER MAIL, AUGUST 10, 2011
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Difficult times for
those out of work
Looking for work: Tony Maaka outside his Takapau home with
daughters Geavana, 8, and Teresa, 12.
Tony Maaka s been hard at work
since he was eight, chasing the
cows into the shed, feeding pigs,
and making tea for the people
who raised him after his parents
adopted him out because they
had too many mouths to feed.
Now Maaka -- a weathered
one of 306 who lost their jobs
when Waipukurau s Ovation
meatworks shut last month.
He has earnt a crust with car-
pentry, milking, bricklaying and
pruning grapevines. He can
drive a forklift, repair a fence
and muster sheep. He s handed
CVs to cockies at the
Waipukurau pub, and applied to
other meatworks and for a
milking job, but with no luck.
Some workers walked into
new jobs at Ovation s Feilding
plant, 120 kilometres west, the
meatworks in Hastings or
nearby Takapau (where Maaka
lives). Others are retraining --
forestry, homecare, driving.
Maaka, who hasn t worked
since May, has fewer options.
I m not very good at reading
and spelling. I m more a hands-
on man. I m just from the old
school -- get out there and do the
He received $2800 in redun-
dancy, but much of that went on
car repairs. He gets the unem-
ployment benefit, but that
doesn t go far.
I m not saying I m poor. But
I m almost in that line.
In his three years at Ovation
as a boner and trimmer, Maaka
worked maybe six months in 12;
many meatworkers are laid off
and rehired seasonally. He
earned about $400 a week, and
plugged the gaps with odd jobs
and the dole. His benefit now is
$250 a week.
He s sold his big fridge and
freezer, downsizing to a
borrowed fridge-freezer. There s
no pub money, and little petrol
for social calls. Worse, there s no
money spare for his children --
aged eight, 12 and 17 -- who live
Waipukurau and stay with him
during the school holidays. He
helps with weekend sport, too.
He still pays $10 to 15 a week
child support, but can no longer
afford to drop the odd $5 into the
kids bank accounts. Fortu-
nately, their mother is still in
Just to support them is my
goal. Hopefully I ll get a decent
job and support them more.
Waipukurau s Wayback Fur-
niture traders, open for six
weeks, is doing a roaring trade
in $89 sofas. Manager Paul
Douglas says a lot more locals
are looking to trade their goods
At Central Hawke s Bay
Budget Services, adviser Angela
Robinson says the effects of the
Ovation closure haven t hit yet.
She praises Ovation for helping
workers find new jobs and for
paying redundancy. But for
many, the cheques are stopgaps.
It s tough for people with a
working partner, as they can t
draw a benefit until the redun-
dancy has been used up.
As the money runs out in
coming months, says Robinson,
people will lose their homes;
there ll be mortgagee sales, and
court fines for unpaid car
registrations and warrants of
fitness. There ll be debt collec-
tion, HP defaults, bankruptcies,
How can she be sure it ll get so
We ve seen it over several
years, as the seasonal layoffs
have got longer because of stock
shortage, says Robinson.
It ll start next week. The
ones who have already run out
of money -- we will get them
when they start going to Winz
for repetitive help.
Those who have mortgages
may be hit hardest. To sell
their home and move away isn t
as easy as for some of the
seasonal people, who rent and
can just move.
Maaka s home in Takapau is a
Housing Corporation rental but
he s not free to roam. He d work
in Feilding, even Gisborne, but
his kids need him near.
And there are some economic
benefits close to home. He has
silverbeet in his yard. For fire-
wood, he can head to the river
and start up the old chainsaw .
Food is everywhere.
You can go out and get the
old watercress. You ll go down
the road and see a big garden
with veges, and there s no harm
in seeing the owner and saying,
Eh, any chance of grabbing any
of those? .
Cabbage, broccoli, whatever
-- they always leave apples on
the ground, too. But it s good to
go in and ask them first.
Maaka s a Labour man,
though he ll vote Mana this
year, because he thinks it s time
for a change.
National should be helping
all these people here who ve
really been working their arses
off, and they lay them off . The
Government needs to find some
way to put everyone back to
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