Siblings Gemma (21), Adam (20) and Megan Leeson (18) work as machine operators at Stevenson Aggregates Limited, Auckland, and are currently all completing their New Zealand Certificate in Mining and Quarrying (Level 2) through MITO.

The Drury-based quarry at which they work is one of the largest in the country, and extracts 2.7 million tonnes of greywacke each year, which is used for sealing roads and making concrete.

Having gone from working in takeaway shops to driving heavy machinery in a large quarry, the siblings all agree that their career changes were the right move.

How did you first get into the industry?

Gemma: Shane Toto - Quarry Manager, Stevenson Aggregates Limited - is a family friend of ours, and he let us know that there were some jobs going at the quarry. Adam and I gave it a go first. Quarrying was new to all of us and we didn’t really know what to expect, but we just got stuck into it - and now we love it! Adam and I have been working here for almost two years now.

Megan: I wasn’t enjoying the work I was doing. I saw how much Gemma and Adam were enjoying working here (and how much better their pay was!), so I got in touch with Shane and asked if there were any more jobs going. I’ve been here for just under a year and I’m loving it!

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Gemma: As a Machine Operator, a typical day for each of us is starting work at 5:30 am, and then getting straight out there to begin loading trucks or stockpiling the aggregate. There’s always something to do! It sounds like long hours but when you’re busy and loving what you’re doing, the days just fly by.

Why did you decide to get qualified?

Adam: For me it’s not only the knowledge factor – but because I want to be the best at my job. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you can’t really do it that well. I know that getting qualified now will help me in the long run.

Gemma: It’s really good for us to be able to know as much as possible about the job and everything that goes into it. There was heaps that we didn’t know before that we’ve now learnt since beginning MITO’s training programme, which is really awesome.

What is the best part about working in the quarrying industry?

Gemma: It’s all great! Honestly, there’s not much I don’t enjoy in this role. There’s never a dull moment.

Adam: I think from the outside looking in, driving these huge machines seems like such an impossible task, so it’s really cool that we now get to do it every day. It’s nice to be able to say that we can do that.

Megan: We also work with a really great team, which makes such a difference. There’s lots of banter!

What are your career goals for the future?

Megan: I’m keen to work my way up into a management position. Until then, I’d like to just keep learning about all the machines that we use, and possibly even do some time at some different quarries, just to see how they operate.

Gemma: Once I finish this qualification, I’ll be aiming for my A grade or B grade certificates. I’d also like to get my truck licence. Basically the plan is to just keep upskilling!

Adam: I’m also interested in working my way up, but I’d definitely like to still have one aspect of my job being on the machines – I love being hands-on and working on the practical side of things.

What advice would you give others considering getting into the industry?

Megan: You’ve just got to give it a good go! Take it seriously, work hard, and learn as much as you can.

Gemma: If you’re unsure of what you want to do, a trade is a great way to go. It’s good pay and good work, and I can definitely see this being a lifelong career for us all.

Adam: Working on a quarry can seem daunting at first – that’s how we felt! But after you give it a go and begin to learn about everything, it’s great. You’ve just got to get into it and get qualified. Then once you have the skills, you’ve got them for life.

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