Fleet Focus

Jack of all trades Jukes

Story by Dave McLeod, Photos by Gerald Shacklock

Gisborne carrier Trevor Jukes reckons the key to it – how the family has managed to stay in business for 100 years – is simple.


“By diversifying as fast and as hard as you can! We’re not too proud to do the shitty jobs.”


Within a whisker of his 78th birthday, the man who’s spent almost 60 years in the family biz, happily provides more detail: “Let’s say you’re Charlie with a truck. You’re working for Fred – who’s got a job to cart some product to supply someone.


“If the supplier decides he doesn’t want the product, Fred’s out of pocket – and you’re in deep shit. All because one of the people in the link decides to change the thinking.


“So the trucking guys are very vulnerable – unless you have a secure base, secure workflow and utterly trustworthy people you work with.”


Trevor Jukes has got a truck and trailer full of stories to share about his time in trucking – but none ring true more than this one.


M.E. Jukes & Son is proof of that old adage – that necessity is the mother of all invention.


The Jukes story actually begins more than “just” 100 years ago – in the late 1800s. “The first work M.E. Jukes – my Granddad Mick – had when arriving in the Gisborne region in about 1897, was clearing bush and scrub with a gang of contractors at Tangihanga Station at Waituhi,” says Trevor.


“He’d made his way up to Gisborne from his arrival point at Bluff (originally as an illegal immigrant from Australia), working on the land and in flax mills.”


Then he landed this job at Waituhi, about 25 kilometres northwest of Gisborne – clearing land for a local farm development.


“He moved from this job into working with horse and bullock teams for the Drummond Bros who managed the Hall family sawmills – firstly at Te Karaka (another 17kms north of Waituhi)….and later at the Tapuhikitea Timber Company sawmill near the marae at Puha (15k further inland, into the bush).


“The logs were hauled from the bush to the sawmills on wooden-railed bush railways, with either horses or bullock teams. The milled timber was carted by horse-drawn wagons to the railheads, first at Te Karaka and later at Puha, and carried into town.”


The closure of the mills was Mick Jukes’ first setback. So he went farming for a few years at Waingake (around 26k southwest of Gisborne), where his in-laws had a farm. Later on he moved into town and started driving teams for Jury & Parry, local carriers.


“Granddad Mick started the business properly in 1919 with a horse and dray, doing general carrier’s work. He was with a buddy, Alf Harvey. They operated together for quite a while and Granddad was renowned for his work – and for his care and respect for the horses.”


The Great Depression, triggered by the Wall Street sharemarket crash in 1929, was a traumatic time for NZ – and Mick Jukes and his family shared the hard times: “Granddad told tales of walking beside the horse and cart when travelling along country roads, cutting grass seed heads to dry – and then selling the seed to local merchants.....




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