Deaf pair just part of the team

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

Pa­trick James Haumaha (PJ) and Tam­a­toa Carl Misi­aga may ap­pear to be just like all the other bobby calf lifters at Farm­ers Trans­port in Pu­taruru.

Un­like their work­mates though they’re also com­pletely deaf and can’t speak.

De­spite their dis­abil­ity branch man­ager Dar­rin O’con­nor said Haumaha, 23, and Misi­aga, 22, get along just fine.

‘‘We get a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back from clients on how good they are and how well they treat the an­i­mals which is awe­some, es­pe­cially with the bad pub­lic­ity the in­dus­try got last year,’’ he said.

‘‘PJ has been with me for around nine years now and comes back every year dur­ing the bobby calf sea­son.

‘‘He’s an awe­some guy, a great worker, real bub­bly and re­ally knows what he’s do­ing.

‘‘It’s Tam­a­toa’s first year with me and he has also worked out re­ally well.’’

O’con­nor said the lack of ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion didn’t faze his team and he didn’t think twice about hir­ing them.

‘‘They are aware of their sur­round­ings but also the other guys are aware of them too so they al­ways tap them on the back if there is a haz­ard or some­thing like that.

‘‘It’s just a mat­ter of ev­ery­one work­ing to­gether and look­ing out for one an­other.’’

Haumaha said they have been made to feel no dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­one else.

‘‘It’s good work and all the peo­ple treat us great and as part of the team,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re also two deaf peo­ple that are able to teach all the hear­ing peo­ple, in­clud­ing the truck driv­ers and other calf lifters, to com­mu­ni­cate with us through sign lan­guage which is a lot of fun.’’

Hav­ing each other for sup­port also goes a long way.

‘‘When I first meet Tam­a­toa I told him about bobby calf lift­ing at Farm­ers Trans­port Lim­ited and ex­plained to him that it was a fun and awe­some job, ‘he said.

‘‘It keeps you fit lift­ing bobby calves and all the work­ers al­ways share with other lifters.’’

O’con­nor en­cour­aged other em­ploy­ers to give peo­ple with sim­i­lar con­di­tions a go.

‘‘I un­der­stand that if it is an en­vi­ron­ment where there are haz­ards around that you need to be aware of by sound that it would not be good but there are some en­vi­ron­ments where it will work per­fectly fine,’’ he said.

‘‘These guys know what to look out for and they are very ca­pa­ble boys.

‘‘I also find they go that ex­tra length to do their job to the best of there abil­ity and they have a bit of fun while do­ing it too.’’ Fam­ily vi­o­lence We had 15 fam­ily vi­o­lence in­ci­dents that were re­ported to police dur­ing the week and we have put all these peo­ple in touch with our part­ner agen­cies for as­sis­tance in their lives. Five of the in­ci­dents have re­sulted in peo­ple be­ing ar­rested and charged. Al­co­hol Only one per­son was stopped for drink driv­ing this week.

* Se­nior Sergeant Ja­son Hen­der­son

PHOTO: LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Pa­trick James Haumaha and Tam­a­toa Carl Misi­aga get along fine work­ing at Farm­ers Trans­port in Pu­taruru de­spite not be­ing able to hear or speak.

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