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Road-building legend who led by example

Jack Kuru – the legend road builder.

These words are enscribed on the wall of the Wairangi whare as a reminder of Jack's time building roads in Wairangi Forest in the early 2000s.

I remember vividly the day Jack's D8 bulldozer was on the transporter heading to Wairangi Forest to embark on a new road line harvesting and construction contract.

When asked what are your longer-term goals, he replied: “I would like two D8 bulldozers heading up to the forest.”

Jack loved his bulldozers.

He deemed travel a waste of time so they camped in shearers' quarters during the week so they could step out of bed and straight into their machines and maximise hours pushing dirt or pulling wood, working tirelessly in challenging conditions before returning home for the weekends.

This incredible work ethic spanned over 50 years of operating heavy machinery in Manawatu, Papua New Guinea, Palmerston North, Tauranga and all over the Gisborne/ East Coast region.

Jack and son Ricky formed what became the successful Kuru Contracting Ltd company in 1997.

In 2012, Ricky and wife Leanne took over directorship with the idea it would take pressure off Jack and allow him to slow down.

Of course nothing could slow Jack and he continued to work tirelessly every day, then for a period worked equally as tirelessly with other son Arana to start his harvesting company.

Jack's experience and knowledge were integral in the development of unique roading construction techniques used on the East Coast.

While Jack loved his bulldozers, when faced with a new challenge of building roads on the steep papa rock terrain, he was the first on the East Coast to implement a large 70-tonne excavator.

There was criticism at the time but soon afterwards all other forest road builders faced with similar challenges followed suit, stepping up to using larger excavators as their front-line earthmoving machines.

Jack mentored, taught and educated hundreds of workers on the East Coast, some of who went on to own and operate successful businesses of their own.

He was recognised in the East Coast forestry community, winning numerous Eastland Wood Council awards for excellence.

Jack came from the school of hard knocks. He worked hard, played hard and loved big toys.

I have had the pleasure of working with Jack and the Kuru family since 1999 and laughed over many stories.

I recall the story of Ricky as a young boy being bought a motocross bike.

Jack being Jack was not about to muck around starting Ricky on something small so instead purchased an adult-sized machine.

Jack welded an extension on the bike-stand so Ricky could stay upright at the start line on race day.

Unable to touch the ground, Ricky was told, “When the flag drops, open the throttle wide and don't fall off”.

Well, you could say that Jack's mentoring turned the throttle wide open for the Kuru family and is a reason why their subsequent businesses were so successful.

Above all else, Jack the legend road builder was a beautiful and lovely man and many of us in the forest industry loved him dearly.

The wisdom Jack passed on is in my mind and his love is in my heart forever. Rest in peace, Jack.

LOVED HIS BULLDOZERS: Jack Kuru loved jumping in his bulldozer and getting stuck into his work — an ethos that spanned over 50 years of operating heavey machinery. Picture supplied

  1. Steve Fuller, Taupo says:

    All these years and never met him personally, but did talk with him on the phone . . . sad really, a huge resemblance.
    Will make sure I meet Rick and family.

  2. Leonie Tawhai, Porirua says:

    Will Always Remember Uncle Jack and His Big Toys Rocking Up To Porangahau When We Had Whanau Gatherings. ❤🤙

  3. Claude Ketu, Levin says:

    Haere, Haere, Haere, Matua Jack. See you again when we get there.