Early riser loves his bakery job

EARNING A CRUST: Mahesh Hettiarachchi is a familiar face in the bakery of Lincoln Rd Pak 'n' Save in Henderson.
EARNING A CRUST: Mahesh Hettiarachchi is a familiar face in the bakery of Lincoln Rd Pak 'n' Save in Henderson.

Mahesh Hettiarachchi, 41, lives in Massey with wife Samantha, son Dinuga, 10, and daughter Sanadi, 8. He is a bakery supervisor at Lincoln Rd Pak 'n Save in Henderson. Hinerangi Vaimoso talks to him about his work.

I wake at 4am. I'll have a wash and then I need my cup of tea before I can do anything.

I'll get the ice off my car and then head into work which can take between 10 to 15 minutes to start at 5am.

There are 22 people in the bakery team, responsible for filling all the shelves with freshly made cakes, muffins, breads and sandwiches every day.

We'll do two bakes a day to make sure everything is stocked up and do extras if something is selling particularly well.

One of our biggest sellers are the ciabatta loaves and rolls. We'll go through at least 60 loaves and 1200 of the rolls every day.

My role as supervisor means I have to make sure everyone's doing what needs to be done and to fill in where I'm needed should someone be away.

This is actually really good because it means I get experience in all areas.

I love it because there is always something new to learn and we experiment with new techniques which is great.

I usually finish at 2pm and spend time with my children after school.

My wife works as a checkout operator at the same supermarket but starts later in the day so she can get the kids off to school.

I'll watch the Sri Lankan news online after work and then do homework with the children. I'll also buy textbooks and teach the children extra work to make sure they stay at the top of their class.

We then have dinner and spend some family time together.

I go to bed by about 11pm.

I moved to New Zealand from Sri Lanka six years ago to set up a new life for my family here. I was a baker by trade in Cyprus and Sri Lanka where I worked as a baker in a five star hotel.

I read somewhere that New Zealand was one of the top countries in the world to bring up children so I decided to make the move.

It wasn't easy though.

I came here and spent about a month looking for work. Money ran out fast and I really struggled. I had no idea how I was going to survive the next week but then I got this job.

Back then I had to start at 4am.

I would start walking the five kilometres to work at 2.30am to make it on time. It was winter too so sometimes the weather would be really bad but I had no other choice.

When the owner/operator realised what I was up to three weeks after I started he gave me a car. I still have it to this day and I am forever grateful. He also gave my family and I tickets to go home for a holiday last year which was so generous.

The managers and the team here are amazing to me and my family and words can't describe how thankful I am.

Western Leader