Call centre transforms East Cape small town

Call centre transforms East Cape small town

Ngati Porou has convinced a company to establish a call centre on the East Cape.

The iwi wants to bring jobs to the region so Connect Global has played ball.

It opened an office in Ruatoria today and the telecommunications contractor says the small town has provided the highest calibre of applicants it's seen.

The centre, which opened today, is an outbound call centre working for Genesis Energy.  It's employing 14 people to begin with, but could grow to as many as 50.

So far, Pat McLean is the only man in the office but he's not bothered.

"It's mostly all my aunties, so it doesn't really worry me, I'm the only dude, so sweet," he says.

He hasn't had steady income for a while, only doing odd jobs like docking, in exchange for meat or beer. He hopes to provide a better future for his family and his kids. 

"I'm hoping for growth, so we don't have to leave paradise to get a full-time job," he says.

New job opportunities brought smiles to the community of Ruatoria with a population of just 750.

"We sit at the pinnacle of unemployment statistics in this country and having 14 jobs, with a potential up to 50 is what we've been told, that's amazing, it was unbelievable at first," says Vanessa Ngarimu.

"Hopefully in months to come we'll grow so much we'll be inbound, outbound contact centre for pretty much anything," says Ms Ngarimu.

Connect Global was started 14 years ago by Serena Fiso, who's Maori, and her Samoan husband Siuai Fiso.  She says they wanted to create jobs for "our people". It employs 65 staff in Porirua, north of Wellington.

"Our experience in stepping into this has far exceeded our expectations, we had no idea about the level of ownership people would take, not just the workers but the whole community," she says.

"The attitudes that we're getting here and the calibre we're getting here in this township is far better than what we've experienced in Wellington city," says Ms Fiso.

Next stop for Connect Global -- Patea in South Taranaki.