A New Plymouth tree care company with a focus on staff pastoral care and support for young people has claimed top honours at the 2023 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.
Tree Machine Services was named supreme winner by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor at an event at the Beehive in Wellington. The company also claimed the Māori Agribusiness Award and was joint winner of the Small Business Recognition Award.
“We’re still buzzing about the awards,” said Tree Machine Services managing director David Hare, who runs the company with wife Cathy.
“Just to get nominated for the finals was a huge surprise. But to get three awards was massive.”
O’Connor said Tree Machine Services was a worthy winner, centring its business on building the success of its people with training, qualifications and experience to equip them for the future.
“This includes both personal and professional coaching in areas such as communication, time management and leadership, and regular check-ins to discuss progression, issues, and ideas.
“Their key focus is ensuring the success of their people both at, and outside, of work.”
The Hare family started the business 10 years ago with just four staff members.
It now has 15 employees and operates under three umbrellas: training programmes, contract work and an environmental crew that carries out riparian planting and weed pest control.
The company provides Forestry Level 2 foundation training skills under North Tech, Te Pūkenga.
“The rangatahi that we train finish the programme and we send them to contractors, farmers and forestry,” Hare said.
“We have a wraparound group that supports our employees and trainees with pastoral care. It’s helping with driver licensing, drug and alcohol issues, CVs, financing and banking and lots of other things.
“The key for us is that pastoral care. It extends from our training right through to our core business. We’re not the specialists to provide that support but we have people under the umbrella of Te Pūkenga that support those young guys.”
Once young people have signed onto a training course, they are tracked for the next two years to ensure support remained in place regardless of their career path.
“I think pastoral care is the key and all industries have got to have it,” Hare said.
O’Connor said the competitive advantage of the food and fibre sector is people and the need for resilience and providing wellbeing and other support for employees has been top of mind in recent years.
“The efforts of our farmers, growers, and other agribusinesses to support their staff were essential throughout the pandemic and, for many, during and following this year’s weather events in the North Island. Our food and fibre sector continues to be a great place to work, where people can build successful, rewarding and life-long careers.”
The winners were:
• Central Cherry Partnership from Central Otago (Employee Development Award)
• Valleyfield Pastoral from Canterbury (Safe and Healthy Work Environment Award)
• Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay (Inclusive and Diverse Workplace Award)
• Tree Machine Services from New Plymouth and Valleyfield Pastoral from Canterbury (joint winners Small Business Recognition Award)
• Tree Machine Services from New Plymouth (Māori Agribusiness Award).