Regenerating Tamaki

Zjiovani Petera takes pride in contributing to the regeneration of Auckland’s eastern suburbs. Of Maori (Ngati Kuri and Tainui) and English descent, the 21-year-old joined the workforce as a general labourer. But once he started work on concrete and construction, his mind was set.



“There’s a lot involved when you’re constructing with reinforced steel, laying mesh for the floors, setting the piling foundations and keeping an eye on the weather … and the time,” says Zjiovani, at one of the housing projects in Glen Innes.


“But I enjoy the work. I’ve been here a few months now and I’m motivated to gain my full license W,T & R (Wheels Tracks & Rollers) license endorsement so I can drive the big machines.”


Zjiovani’s go-to attitude earned him an apprenticeship contract in civil construction with his employers at Heb Construction. He appreciates the guidance and knowledge provided by his site manager Julio and the Heb team.


Sometimes getting a foot in the door is all you need to help you get started in a career, says Shelley Katae, GM Strategy and Performance for Tāmaki Response Company (TRC).


“We build strong relationships with our redevelopment partners and they see the advantage of getting local workers.


“We also have a social procurement clause that encourages our partners/suppliers to utilise the Tamaki Jobs and Skills Hub to employ local people. Heb Construction did this for Zjiovani,” says Shelley.


“My boss Julio made me feel welcome from Day 1 … he didn’t judge me, he just said he’s going to give me the opportunity to succeed,” says Zjiovani.


“It felt good to start in such a positive way … I don’t want to let him down.”


One major advantage is being able to live and work in the Tāmaki district where he grew up in.


“When I hear about some of the distances others come from around Auckland to work here, I feel lucky … I’m born and raised in Orakei, went to Selwyn College, now live in Panmure … the only place I stayed outside the area was when I boarded at Hato Petera College across the bridge at Northcote.”


Zjiovani admits he’s amazed at the area’s transformation, replacing dated, cold and leaking houses with more modern fit-for-purpose dwellings. It provides him with more than enough incentive to remain in the area and be Tāmaki, East Auckland and Panmure proud.


“You look at the views, especially being close to the water and having good public transport to get around, you just know more people will want to come in live here. It just makes me feel good knowing I’ve been a part of making it happen … and I’m keen to keep working here to make it happen.”