Why did Gisborne builder Francis Yates put his hand up to be Tui Te Ora’s project manager?
“Because Kim Currie told me I was.”
His partner in crime, fellow local builder Peter Stevens, didn’t need much convincing either. The pair, who have more than 60 years’ combined experience in the industry, truly enjoyed project managing the “million dollar project”.
“Before this we would never have really talked that much because in day-to-day life we are competitors,” Francis says.
“But now I’ve got to know him really well, and his son, and I think all the other workers really enjoyed getting to know each other too — it’s pretty rare.”
Both men admit it was tricky co-ordinating dozens of builders, tradespeople, apprentices and volunteers to meet constant deadlines.
“The committee met each Monday morning and we set deadlines each week,” Peter says.
“The workers had their own deadlines with their businesses, so we had to ensure people could be in on the particular days they were needed.”
Tradespeople’s commitment and flexibility blew them away. “We were overwhelmed by the response from people in the wider building community, and there were always carpet-layers whistling and others having a laugh. I think they enjoyed getting to know each other,” Francis says.
“A spin-off was Gisborne Boys’ High students getting involved in digging foundations, and students from Gisborne Developments and Tairawhiti Polytech and a number of service clubs plus all the material providers like Darin at Tumu getting involved. It was the whole community working for the community,” Peter says.
What motivated the pair to continue after work and at weekends? “We were a small town going through a recession, yet people were still prepared to donate services and materials,” Peter says.
“This was our ideal project,” Francis says. “It used our building skills to help young, old, male, female, Maori, European. We were donating a useful amenity. Everything worked out. It was meant to be.”