Raglan businessman Nathan Taranaki is no stranger to working with Habitat for Humanity – his family company looks after the charity’s roofing needs in the greater Waikato – but a Habitat job he has signed up for in late September is expected to be well out of his comfort zone.
That’s because the 38-year-old will be helping build a house for a deserving family, along with working on a local school, not in New Zealand but in a remote part of India after deciding to “give it a go” and volunteer his services for Habitat’s global village programme.
“If you’ve never been to India before you’re in for a real shock,” says Habitat’s Nathan Collins, who has stepped in as team leader for the September 24 to October 9 mission. “They’re very poor, it’s an eye-opener,” he says of the Pondicherry community with whom he’s worked on a build previously.
“It’s all about applying your skills, whatever they are, in a different way and in a completely different place where you’re out of your comfort zone.”
He says while the inhabitants of Pondicherry – which is three hours south of Chennai – are “the friendliest, smiliest community-oriented people”, the building principles are quite different there and any structure has to suit their climate, surroundings and even food.
The family getting the new house will likely work alongside the New Zealand team, which Nathan Collins says should number at least 12 and ideally 16. As of last week only five had signed up to go, and Nathan stresses previous building or trades experience is not a must.
“You just need to be willing to participate, and sometimes the best people to take away in a team are the least experienced because they’re prepared to muck in and do anything.”
The cost per person is $4215, a sum that covers flights, transfers, food, accommodation, insurance during the build and branded gear.
The two Nathans making the trip have coincidentally known each other since high school in Cambridge.
Nathan Collins’ usual role is as construction manager for Habitat in the central North Island, while Nathan Taranaki started the family business Water Tight Construction seven years ago and has now been in the roofing and construction industry for more than 15 years.
Besides looking after Habitat’s roofing needs in the greater Waikato region, WTC also undertakes critical home repairs and maintenance work for the organisation.
WTC has a fulltime staff of six and Nathan Taranaki says it will be business as usual back here while he’s in India. WTC operates out of a depot in Green St, Frankton.