NZ Dairy Winter 2022

116 | nzdairy Phil Hawke Contracting’s Sue Russell “We do the whole planting and harvesting of maize, running two choppers with a full compliment of trailers, trucks and stacking gear”. Phil Hawke’s connection with the Hinuera/Matamata district goes back generations to when his grandfather developed the dairy farm from scrub in the early 1900’s. “Dad took over and then I took over from him milking cows,” Phil explains. Discovering he had more of a passion for contracting, Phil purchased his rst tractor at 19 and moved away from running a herd to concentrate on developing his contracting business, rst taking on part-timers until demand for his services meant employment of full-time operators became necessary. Today, son Ollie, is very much part of the business and the work has expanded into maize. “Ollie has the same enthusiasm that I had when I started and that’s really good.” And having clocked up 42 years as an agricultural contractor Phil is still actively ‘in the seat’. Times have been challenging lately, nding staff for the busy seasonal work with Covid restrictions impacting on availability of skilled drivers from overseas. Traditionally the labour positions have been lled with skilled professionals from Ireland and England. They travel to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. They work with us over the busy spring period, travel down south over the summer months when it is quieter and then return for the maize season. When NZ Dairy spoke with Phil mid-May they had just nished under-sowing and were busy trying to source bailage. With the winter months approaching, time is given to essential maintenance and a bit of a down-time before the new spring season gets underway. While the team is capable of undertaking most of the maintenance, if something major needs working on it gets sent away to be completed. “We do the whole planting and harvesting of maize, running two choppers with a full compliment of trailers, trucks and stacking gear. The maize season is closely followed by re-grassing. The eet also includes four round combi balers, a medium square baler, undersowers and muck spreaders. Phil purchased his rst tractor at 19 and moved away from running a herd. DAIRY SERVICES » Phil Hawke Contracting PROUD TO PARTNER PHIL HAWKE CONTRACTING NORTHLAND I MORRINSVILLE I MATAMATA I ROTORUA 13 Broadway, Matamata 07 888 6292 40 Thames Street, Matamata 07 889 7055 MORR I NSV I L LE Work gets pretty frantic from September up until Christmas, but from mid-January it slows down and there’s chance for a break. Phil recalls growing up riding on machinery with his Dad and when son Ollie was the same age he also had his rst experience on equipment in a similar manner. Now stringent health & safety regulations don’t allow this. While understanding the need for care Phil says this was often the way young people became engaged in the idea of working machinery. When asked how he can see whether someone has a natural driving ability, Phil says that he can see it quite quickly. “It’s about a natural feel for using the machinery.” They must also enjoy driving and be able to put in long hours over the peak times. Courses such as those provided by AgDrive provide learning opportunities at entry level but Phil says it’s important that anyone intent on a career in contracting understands they have to start from the bottom. After engaging with the same clients for many years, Phil says he hates the idea of disappointing them. “When you get to a reasonable size operation then you’re only as good as your drivers. I have to be careful who I send out and where I send them.” He is also careful not to extend his work horizons too far, choosing to stay in an area he is familiar with. These days Phil doesn’t actively chase new work. Word gets around about his work ethic and what he and the team are capable of and the rest takes care of itself. “The cost of everything these days is frightening. Our costs are going up and up. I think it’s going to be very hard for people just starting up in the contracting industry.” While Phil is still actively engaged driving and dealing with clients, Anne takes care of all the work behind the scenes, keeping the administration ticking over. Their daughter Jordyn helps out with the weighbridge and taking meals out to the staff. Phil Hawke Contracting is very much a family based, locally owned and operated business.