When CrestClean’s Petera Wiparata arrives at Hawkins’ Ōhakea construction site in the morning, he is always greeted with a cherry “mōrena” by Site Office Manager Celia Knox.
“He’s been teaching me a bit of te reo,” says Celia.
“So, when I see him, I don’t say ‘good morning’, it’s ‘mōrena’. I’m always keen to learn more and he is more than happy to teach me.”
The unofficial te reo Māori lessons are just one of the reasons Celia loves having Petera on site.
The Palmerston North franchisee has been cleaning at the site since the beginning of the year, as well as providing a sanitising service throughout Covid Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4, and Celia says he has it “down to a fine art”.
“He is just amazing. He will come in and ask where I want him to clean and on which days and then he just cracks on with it. If he’s got any issues he comes and asks me. His communication is fantastic,” says Celia.
“I just don’t have to worry about it. He often goes above and beyond, and he’s always got a smile on his face.”
Hawkins has been contracted to build an 18,000sqm hangar complex, Te Whare Toroa, at Ōhakea airfield to house the four P-8A Poseidon aircraft that will replace the Orion fleet that has been in use since the 1960s.
When the $250 million project is completed, the New Zealand Number 5 squadron will relocate to Ōhakea from Whenuapai in Auckland.
While it is under construction, Petera is responsible for keeping Hawkins’ onsite offices and facilities clean and hygienic.
“I really enjoy working there. They’re really friendly people and they’re always complimenting me on my work,” says Petera.
Being greeted in te reo is an added bonus.
Having attended Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori, Petera grew up speaking te reo, but says he is not as fluent as he used to be.
“For me it’s the trying — because I’m still in the ‘trying’ phase. I lost my reo once I left college but now my kids are coming home and talking to me in te reo. That’s what motivated me to carry on, so if I can pass that on to other people, that’s amazing,” he says.
“When you speak it, it becomes natural.”
CrestClean’s Palmerston North Regional Manager Shareen Raj says Petera is friendly, professional and committed to providing a high-quality service.
“He is really enthusiastic about his work and takes pride in what he does. His customers love him!”