Away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland city centre, the BASF Albany office is tucked away in a modern, immaculately kept industrial estate north of Auckland. Surrounded by boutique coffee roasters and great Korean restaurants, the construction chemical site sits behind the carpark of an educational bookshop- a frequent source of entertainment for the team as they guess the number of attempts it will take patrons to reverse in to the tight parking spaces.
The most recent member to join the tight- knit BASF Albany office is Manu Manapo, a 29-year-old, married, father of three. Manu and family moved to the area at the start of last year so that Manu could complete his police training. Originally hired at BASF as a contractor, Manu enjoyed the work so much he decided to put his plans to be a policeman on hold and started working full time in the warehouse in August.
For Manu, the biggest benefit of working at BASF’s Albany production site is the consistent hours and work life balance. “When I joined the police force, I didn’t have a say in where I was going to go, and the shift work was all up to them… When I started working here, not having to work weekends was a bonus, my kids play sports and now I can be there.”
A typical day for Manu starts in the Warehouse at 8.00am when he arrives at work, gets changed and opens the warehouse. After checking the forklifts and forklift reports he puts on the kettle then Manu and Warehouse Manage Mark, have a cup of tea and a toolbox meeting. Once the plans for the day are laid, they get back in the warehouse and “get on with it”. While Mark is always on hand to ask questions, Manu loves the independence and autonomy of the job. The team of two start to pack up and clean the warehouse around 4.30pm, then get ready to do it all again the next day.
Outside of work Manu spends all his spare time with his family, and tries to travel back home to the Cook Islands, at least every two years. When he visits his native island home of Mangaia, Manu gets a literally royal reception, as his grandmother was queen of the island! The small island of 500 people all know each other, and being a descent of royalty, Manu is very well respected in the community.
Whilst occasionally 'teased' about his royal status in the workplace, Manu appreciates the “awesome” people he gets to work with, and is glad to see them every day. “There are days we’re so flat out, but we don’t complain, we just get it done. We work well together, we’ve got the same sense of humour. I look forward to coming to work, it’s not really what you do, it’s who you work with.”