Rebuilding Christchurch: Traffic manager proud to help

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2013
Ira Chato-King directs traffic on Woodgrove Ave, North Beach.
NEIL MACBETH

MORE GO THAN STOP: Ira Chato-King directs traffic on Woodgrove Ave, North Beach. He loves his job as a site traffic management supervisor.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Across Christchurch thousands of people are working hard to piece our city back together. In a six-part series The Press profiles workers toiling in a range of jobs on the rebuild.

Working amid the dust and rubble of the central city in the days immediately following the February 2011 quake left Ira Chato-King in no doubt as to where he belonged.

"After going into the red zone I knew my place was here," he said.

The father of four worked as a temporary labourer before the quakes, taking whatever work he could, but for the past 19 months he has worked six days a week as a site traffic management supervisor for Fulton Hogan.

It is his job to ensure the contracting teams working to fix the broken pipes and damaged roads in New Brighton can go about their work safely.

It is not a glamorous job but Chato-King loves it because he knows the contracting crews he is protecting with his traffic cones and signs are making a real difference.

"The best part of this job is helping restore people's lives," he said.

"They've really suffered a lot out here [in New Brighton] and they just want their lives back. That's the reason I got into this - to help people.

"I love putting smiles on people's faces."

The 38-year-old has been working tirelessly since the February 22 quake, initially as a general hand in the red zone.

He sent his four children up to the North Island as the worst of the aftershocks rumbled through the city but never contemplated leaving himself, even though his partner lost her job because of the quakes and the family were forced to move out of their Woolston home because of liquefaction. It has not been an easy ride but after years of feeling unsettled in his work, Chato-King finally feels like he has found his niche.

"It's an experience I'll never forget. I'm proud to be helping, proud to be among a whole network of men and women who have put their hand up to help and who are just getting on with the job without bitching and moaning," he said. "I've got a purpose now and I love what I do because I know I'm making a difference. There's nothing about the job that I don't like.

"Some people can be difficult to deal with but that's because [they're] frustrated and they've lost a lot. The kids though are great and they make it all worthwhile - it's them we're doing this for."

Chato-King is taking a month off over Christmas to spend time with his family but will be back directing traffic around roadworks in New Brighton early in the new year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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