When Wicklow’s Andrew Stedman and Leitrim’s Noel Sibery packed their bags for New Zealand last October, they would never believe that they would shorten their journey in an effort to return to Emerald Isle.
The two contract fans landed in New Zealand in mid-October 2019 and have enjoyed the work life of the Kiwis since then.
After pocketing their own work at Riverlea Contractors Ltd, Noel and Andrew were busy working and traveling until the coronavirus pandemic began.
Noel explained how the couple found themselves in a loss of around NZ $ 3,000 after their flight back to Ireland was canceled two weeks ago. The second flight is now booked to return to Ireland.
“We are finished working now and we have booked another flight back to Ireland. Andrew plans to return on April 13 and I booked a flight for the 17th.
“We have heard terrible stories about people who spent five or six thousand dollars on flights just to cancel them. All work is done, so they have no work and no place to live.
“We didn’t know what to do because it was dangerous enough to fly home, but then the job dried up and our boss told us he couldn’t have us in the service shop because it wasn’t an important job, so we instead said to wait six or seven weeks until everything’s settled, we might as well leave now while commercial flights are still running, “Noel told Journal of Irish Farmers.
Luckily, they found themselves in a better situation than most – they still had accommodation even though their work had been completed this week.
Contract in New Zealand
Despite the pressure of booking a return flight, speaking to the couple was quite clear how excited they were about contracting life in New Zealand.
Andrew comes from a cattle farm and processing in Co. Wicklow and has a family contract business, while Noel comes from a sheep farm in Glencar, Co Leitrim, and has worked for local contractors for the past six seasons.
Riverlea Contractors Ltd is based in Taranaki on the North Island of New Zealand.
The fleet consists of 18 New Holland tractors, a harvester, two Fusion balers, two silage carriages and a crew of 15 staff.
Basic work is the main type of contract that is carried out when they arrive in October. Andrew is plowing, while Noel is especially troublesome.
The silage season starts from November to Christmas, followed by a straw propeller. The couple spent February traveling around New Zealand and returning to harvest corn.
The last few weeks have been spent plowing and completing silage.
Noel Sibberry and Andrew Stedman have worked for Riverlea Contractors LTD based in New Zealand since October.
The contract duo explained what that day was like.
“We will start at around half past six in the morning and we will leave for at least ten hours, your strange time will come out for an hour or two.
“It won’t be as busy at home as the weather is very good here.
“There is so much good equipment and crew, the work is done much faster. We are treated very well, the boss will bring you food if you work late, he is very good. ”
Difference between New Zealand and Ireland
Are contractors in Ireland considering installing an iPad on every tractor they own? This is one of the biggest differences that couples notice about contracts in New Zealand.
Noel described the arrangement as very professional compared to Ireland.
“Each tractor has an iPad and software called TracMap that provides the driver with a map of the farm you are headed to and what work needs to be done on the farm.”
GPS software allows their bosses to see where they are, how fast the tractor is running and how many hectares they have covered.
Noel Siberry and Andrew Stedman have worked for Riverlea Contractors LTD based in New Zealand since October.
Organization is the key for every business. Contractors in New Zealand tend to have more equipment than they need because of their competition and work efficiency – if they don’t finish work, someone else will.
The couple explained that “the contractors here tend to have more equipment than they actually need”.
“The contractor where we work won’t do a large amount of hectares, but he must have two everything because, here, farmers want you and they want you now, there’s no such thing as waiting.
“The work must be done immediately because there is a lot of competition. There are two large square balers although one is only really needed. If it’s in Ireland you will get away with one, but not here.
“There is a lot of competition especially in Tarinaki, there are six or seven different contractors around the area.”
Taranaki is a small village based on the North Island of New Zealand and will not be as populated as other regions.
The children describe it as a hard milk area, with every milk based farm – there are milk trucks on the road day and night.
Fortunately, this couple does not need to work too far, because they live in a place with a price of $ 100 a week.
In total, there are 16 people working for Riverlea Contractors – six from abroad, three Scots and three Irish.
“We all live in places. “We all have our own room and living room, so it’s very useful,” Noel explained.
“The boss man where we work is one of the best friends we have ever met here, he treats us like family and tells us to prepare BBQ. We were very lucky, he took care of us and helped us with flights. ”
Return to Ireland
Upon returning to Ireland, Andrew hopes to return to his family contract business in Tinahely, while Noel hopes to get a job using his title from Tralee IT.
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