Kaahu, who has been working at The Thomas Brothers for over two years now, first started out stickering in the pack house, and then ended up outside thinning which she quickly found she enjoyed and was very efficient at. This was just the beginning for Kaahu, as more opportunities came her way, she was determined to show them she wanted more responsibility and was willing to give anything a go. Kaahu said,
“it’s so awesome to work for a company where you can kind of jump around a little bit and find what you enjoy. They are a very open-minded company”.
Kaahu’s current role at The Thomas Brothers is supervisor of her own team, where she ensures everyone is on time, happy and safe and that their job is getting done. Kaahu will take her team through the whole season which will involve a variety of requirements depending on what stage the fruit stage is at.
When they are outside, they are responsible for picking, thinning, and crushing. Crushing is essentially crushing the top shoot of a kiwifruit to avoid the fruit tangling. While the industry is known to be seasonal, Kaahu said that there is always something to be done, no matter what time of the year. However, she enjoys the busy season as it is a great opportunity to “earn some more money, be outside, and the team environment makes it fun.”
Since Kaahu left school, she has been in the horticulture and agriculture industry. She enjoyed the work outside and when asked what she enjoys most about her job now, Kaahu said “meeting new people, learning something new every day as well as gaining more skills – some more technical than others and now expanding and getting more opportunities”. A recent great opportunity was Kaahu completing a leadership course through the “GoHort Emerging Leaders Development Programme”. This has allowed her to be more confident in her leadership role as well as putting her hand up for further responsibility and opportunities.
When it’s time to be inside the pack house, its all go and full on. While Kahu’s main responsibility as a supervisor is to ensure everyone is okay and staying on track with the day’s task, she also makes an effort to make it a fun team environment and positive for everyone. While inside the pack house, it is a real effort, where everyone is assigned a job which is important to get the fruit out efficiently.
“We’ve got people checking trays, boxes, stacking the pallets. People come in and grab the pallets and then the quality controller isn’t checking the quality, making sure that everyone’s doing a good job.”
When talking about our region, Kaahu says she makes the most of what Nelson Tasman has to offer, “it’s beautiful sunshine, beaches, just the environment, it’s lovely.” Living in Motueka she is nice and close to Kaiteriteri beach where in the summer she will go for an after-work swim. On the weekends Kaahu enjoys going for walks around the place and camping trips, making the most of the outdoors.
Some wise last words from Kaahu to those starting out in the industry,
“I think just go for it, just show that you’re interested, show that you’re really keen and the more you do that the more they notice and want to give back.”