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Diggers and ’dozers: Wahine toa running the show


April 2022


Like many great business ideas, Flaxmere’s newest civil construction company started its life as a discussion around the dining room table.

Just six months on, and the Flaxmere civil construction company (for the uninitiated that’s construction related to infrastructure; so excavation, driveways, foundations, paving

and building slabs etc) already has projects under its belt and is about to take on two new projects: paths for a kohanga reo and a papakainga project.

Perhaps most unusually, this company, which operates in a male-dominated industry that is all about diggers and ’dozers, is headed by a wahine toa: Alannah Smith.

“Before Christmas we were sitting around the table talking about

our goals and visions, what sort of business we could develop, involving our children’s input into the plans, what skills we could put together, and came up with a strategy.

My husband has been in civil construction for much of his working life on major projects all over the North Island, while my skills are business and project management.”

Ground Level Contracting was born.

Alannah is determined they will take it one successful step at a time – starting with projects they can manage as a small team, supported by Tipu Ake Tonu, a Hawke’s Bay-based Māori business advisory company specialising in strategy and planning, networking, coaching and mentoring.

But the plan is big. Already they have employment contracts prepared, ready to take on casual and then full-time staff and apprentices as the business grows.

The vision is to focus on developments that enhance public infrastructure: residential care, marae, kohanga, papakainga, and public housing projects. By doing that, they will build a business that offers employment to Flaxmere people, enables the family to give back to the community, and provide a legacy for their three boys. “They’ve been around it all their young lives with their dad so heavily involved in the industry, and they love the diggers and trucks.”

It is unsurprising that giving back to the community is in the top three: Alannah is the daughter and granddaughter of Hamiora Moeke and Hamiora Moeke senior – both well-known master carvers in the community who contributed their services to Flaxmere, including completing the carvings for Te Aranga Marae, and her nanny was Hinetai Ruamataa Tiopira, an early principal of Te Kura o Kimi Ora.


Big digger: Alannah Smith, chief executive of new Flaxmere business Ground Level Contracting, hands-on in a digger.

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