3 Jun 2024

Kat Kaiwai: Building roads and communities

From King's Birthday Morning with Paddy, 8:43 am on 3 June 2024

When Katareina Kaiwai (Ngāti Porou, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga) entered the civil construction industry 12 years ago, she was one of few women on the tools.

Having grown up in a household free from gender roles she was surprised to find that being a woman set her apart. These days, Kaiwai runs her own company on the East Coast - Tairawhiti Contractors - a critical service in a rohe that has suffered multiple severe weather events in recent years.

During Cylone Gabrielle, Kaiwai and her crew of 38 - half of whom are women - ensured life-saving fuel was available to the only medical facility in the area - Te Puia Springs Hospital. These days she actively encourages women into the industry through the outreach programme Girls with Hi-Vis and runs a school lunch service feeding close to 500 tamariki.

Today, she is honoured with a King's Service Medal for her mahi and services to women and the civil construction industry.

Tairāwhiti Contractors director Kat Kaiwai.

Tairāwhiti Contractors director Kat Kaiwai. Photo: Tairāwhiti Contractors