Twenty-nine-year-old Seb Jones is living every kid’s dream. He’s a site foreman with Hunter Civil and spends his days building skate parks around New Zealand. Yes, you read that right – he gets to build skate parks for a living.
Seb is originally from Wales, where he worked on a project decommissioning the Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station in Snowdonia. In 2013, he swapped his life in the Welsh mountains for a life in the Southern Alps – if you look up pictures of Snowdonia, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at images of Aotearoa. It was a home away from home for Seb.
After his move, he began working for Hunter Civil almost straight away, starting out as a machine operator. He has been with them for seven years now, having rapidly climbed the ranks to site foreman. The first project he worked on was the Washington Way Reserve Skate Park in the middle of Christchurch – a $3m, six-month project that involved the construction of new ramps, bowls and street skate areas. He’s since worked on many others, including the redeveloped Waiheke Skate Park, which was officially opened earlier this year on Waiheke Island near Auckland.
“I love the high-end, quality finish of skate parks”, Seb said when we caught up with him recently. “The fact that everything is seen and nothing is buried, like with a lot of other civil construction projects, is really satisfying. It has to look good as well as function well.”
Seb’s love for his job shines through in the way he talks. “Skate parks are complex things to construct; they all have different features and some are really unique. It’s fun working out how to build these new concepts and as soon as construction is complete, the skate park is full and people are using it – the level of excitement from the skaters and their friends is palpable. It’s an extremely rewarding job”.
Some of these unique features he’s referring to include the unique cantilevered quarter pipe at the Masterton Skate Park in the North Island, which he’s currently working on. Seb said he hasn’t seen anything like it before: “It’s like a 16 ton sculpture made of jet black concrete, on a 30-degree lean. I don’t think you’d find a similar thing anywhere else. We never take a cookie cutter approach, which makes the work hard but extremely interesting.”
Seb’s employer, Hunter Civil, prides itself on recognising their worker’s skills and giving people the opportunity to learn different things and evolve their careers.
“I’ve always been given the chance to try my hand at different types of jobs,” Seb said. “It’s been a really good career for that. I had no idea Hunter Civil did so many things – they work on projects like retaining walls and water infrastructure, but they also see the value in doing projects based around outdoor pursuits too, which councils are increasingly spending more money on.”
He said investment in skate parks was also happening abroad, including in countries like Australia, where councils are now viewing skate parks as valuable community assets where friends and families can come together to enjoy a healthy, fun, outdoor activity.
The civil construction industry is expanding rapidly and there’s currently a skills shortage. Over the past year Hunter Civil has grown hugely, scaling up to two to three times the size it was at this time last year. As a result, they are constantly on the lookout for new people to work for them. With the borders currently closed, they have some big gaps to fill, and need Kiwis to fill them.
“We are on the hunt for fresh talent to come and join us – there are so many opportunities for people to work on amazing things. We have a guy on our skate park team who loves skating and always sneaks a first go on the parks when we’ve finished building them to do some ‘quality testing’. It’s a great area to be working in.”
Has this sparked your interest? To enquire about careers at Hunter Civil, visit the Careers page on the company’s website or view the company’s job listings on Seek. For more information about working in civil infrastructure, take a look around the rest of our EPIC Careers in Infrastructure website.