National | Construction

Putting Māori at the top of the line of Topline Contracting

Investing in people and employing the unemployable is how Ngāti Kahungunu civil contracting boss Taurus Taurima has built his business.

Topline Contracting has more than 50 workers on the books, with many of those workers coming from troubled pasts, no formal education or training or have criminal records.

But as long as they're willing to work, Topline gives them that chance.

With some experience in the industry, Taurima says he kicked off the idea in 2016.

“I decided to go out on my own and see if I could employ people from the area I grew up in, Hawke's Bay and Flaxmere, and see what I could do to show our people there that you can own your own business and you can go out and do it on your own if you have enough determination and put in enough effort.”

Making unemployable employable

For Taurus, seeing people without the qualifications or education is enough for him wanting to help make a difference and break the cycle of unemployment.

“The thing for me is being able to watch them get ahead and, hopefully, watch them push it into their tamariki that can try to help them lead a better life. Hopefully, they can finish school, and their children don’t have to wait to get some success in their working career or their life. It’s a good feeling for me.

“If they come in with their full licence, we put them straight into their truck license. If they come in with no licence, we put them straight on to their learner's licence. If they come in with everything else, we try to put them into a polytech course where they actually get qualified in their role. It’s just, pretty much, me trying to educate people.

“Growing up in Flaxmere, it’s sort of a low-income area so once you get the ticket, once you have the qualifications, you’ll no longer be on minimum wage, and you’re employable to other people. You’re wanted in the industry instead of looking for a job and not having much luck.”

Taurus says building jobs and watching the product from start to end is what gets him going.

“Over time, [it’s] having a passion for helping, predominantly, our Māori people become better members of society and giving them fulltime employment instead of seasonal part-time employment and watching their lives get better for themselves and their tamariki.”