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"To get the best mahi, first build the person..."

Building better people is the philosophy beneath the success of Taranaki firm Tuarā Civil. And having sound business advice on call means Director Hone Tipene can focus on what matters to ensure success in his field.

Established in 2019, Tuarā Civil was born from smart planning; Director Hone Tipene could see growing opportunities for Māori-owned SME businesses thanks to the Government Procurement Rule regarding broader outcomes.

“It was like watching a tsunami out at sea, knowing it would eventually land on shore,” Hone says. “It was a case of how I take advantage of that and the opportunities.”

Starting with just a handful of workers, Tuarā Civil went on to experience fast growth in its first year thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund’s $100 million investment in Māori landowners. Hone and his crew took on a significant amount of work, building car parks and driveways across 13 maraes between South Taranaki and Te Kuiti.

Today, Tuarā Civil has around 22 staff and is a go-to subcontractor for many tier-one businesses in the region, specialising in roading and asphalt work. They also offer trenching, drainage, and land development, with plans to kick off a building division working with local iwi “to deliver housing for Māori, by Māori [owned companies],” Hone says.

Tuara Civil group

Building people first

Hone says his first venture – manufacturing stainless steel cookers – was focused purely on money. But despite its success, the experience burnt him out.

Now, he’s built a team environment where everyone has a voice. Every morning the team gathers as a whanau to discuss the day ahead and any issue with an “outcomes approach”, before closing with a karakia.

“What I’m doing now is building people,” he says. “That’s my focus, and that’s what the name Tuarā actually means – to support people.

I believe if we build our people first and have a fantastic product, and I know this for a fact, we will make money.”

Taking the pressure off

Tuarā Civil has also been selected to work on the $280 million Mt Messenger Bypass. Hone’s wife, Raehinerau Wetere (a shareholder of Tuarā Civil) is whakapapa to Ngāti Tama – the iwi partner on the 6km project starting later this year.

When Hone is in the tendering process, he knows he can tackle the big jobs confidently having Crombie Lockwood Taranaki Commercial Broker, Kat Merrick on his side.

“Kat takes all my worry away,” he confirms. “Those other things create more stress, and that’s what makes you burn out. So, to have that insurance side of things [worked out] just takes the load off. I could not do what I'm doing without Crombie Lockwood.”

Kat says over the last couple of years, she and Hone have worked together closely to ensure Tuarā Civil remains a successful and sustainable operation, including working out payment plans for insurance, positive outcomes on claims, and making sure the business’ assets are protected.

“It is a privilege to watch the Tuarā Civil business grow into one that is making a positive impact in the community,” Kat says. “Hone has such a passion for people, and that shines through in the way he speaks about his team.”

construction workers

"To have the insurance side of things worked out just takes the load off.

I could not do what I’m doing without Crombie Lockwood."


Hone Tipene, Tuarā Civil

Published November 2022