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Hard work pays off after switch to fencing career

In this feature article hear from Harrison Waara who learned from experience that working hard as a trainee pays off in the long term after switching to a fencing career.


Kia ora, I’m Harrison Waara, a foreman for CPC Fencing.

I grew up in the city of Auckland where at the start of my high school years I moved to Whangarei. I completed high school at Tikipunga High School with all my qualifications, having the world at my feet. The next step was University where I would go to study for a Bachelor in Health Science to pursue Radiography.


After a year it didn’t feel right – partying, late nights and women – so I took a year off to get some work experience constructing rock walls at the Whangarei Quarry Gardens. I got to learn how to cut rocks, stack rocks and learn every rock had a special place, with every rock having its own unique size and shape.

While there I had the privilege of meeting a lot of elderly volunteers and learnt a lot of life lessons that I carry to this day. Their life stories and journeys consisted of a lot of changes and surprises and became the reason why they help the community, to hopefully one day inspire others to do the same.

Ending up back in Auckland after what had been a good life lesson, I found myself being a Dad just after my 21st birthday. This meant my journey in life would take another change – I found my passion as a Dad and began working in Aquaculture.


Working at Future Cuisine in West Auckland, you had a day to learn to shuck a mussel in under 5 seconds, or else you were sent down the road to find another place to work. There were a lot of different people from all over the world, who just enjoyed shucking, but I needed more. Within a month I was running dispatch and international orders to China and Singapore, working big, long days, but I lost sight of what I had at home. This made me have to grow up fast, as a solo Dad to my son who was 1 at the time.

My son and I headed back up to Whangarei, where I had support from family and friends. I furthered my knowledge in Aquaculture working with farming Paua. It was an experience that helped shape my perspective on my love for the ocean.

I also found myself taking on the challenge of helping unionise the company, where workers who would work long days were being underpaid and had no voice to stand up for themselves. I became their voice and within a year had a skills matrix set up, where pay rises were more rewarding. For employees who hadn’t seen a pay rise in 5+ years, they could finally be happy and feel appreciated.


During my time there, I found myself at a concert (Six60) where I met my (now) partner who was a solo mother of two kids –  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was getting back into playing rugby and having a 4-year-old son who never really got a chance of having a mother figure around, it was a perfect fit. I was in a place in life where I was happy, my son was happy and we were happy to try to blend our families together.

We lived in different towns and I worked 40 minutes from where I was living, so to get to spend time together was a strain and about a 3 hour round trip. The next step was to get a place together. I would commute from where we lived to get to the Paua farm. This was still taxing so I started looking for another job and another challenge.


During the Christmas holidays in 2018, I was talking to friends and family about a new venture, something close to where I was living. I was told to jump in the truck, and driven down to the CPC Fencing yard. There the boss asked “Do you know how to fence?” I replied “No”. Then, “Do you want a job?” I replied “Yes”.  He then asked if I wanted a beer. From there we got talking just about life, and the following day I handed in my notice to the Paua farm and have never looked back. Not knowing what I just signed up for, I knew I had to do it for my kids, my partner and my family.

The first week had to be the hardest week of my life, carrying battens all day in the summer sun, up hills, and at times I felt like just going back to the Paua farm. Trying to soak up as much knowledge as fast as possible – there were too many skills, techniques and general common sense, which I hadn’t experienced – I had to learn to be patient.

In my first year of employment I saw so many people come and go, some lasting a few days, to a few weeks, and felt like I didn’t want to be that person. I don’t give up and having something to wake up for, being my kids and partner, I knew I had to push to strive to be better and push to be the best for myself and a role model for my kids.


The work ethic and challenges as a fencer changes with each job and fence lines being different make every day more interesting. With the help of my employers and foreman, I took on my own crew and learned I was a leader within myself. The trust I have been given is never taken lightly.

I thought to myself “Where could I find fencers that were in my position, where I started, someone to give the opportunity as I was given?” So I put some feelers out to my local rugby team and we hired two greenhorn fencers, who had never fenced before but had the fitness to hit the hills and carry out the workload, turning every day into a training session.

We also had the opportunity to get our Level 3 Certificate in Fencing (which is still in motion) this means we can work towards becoming qualified in a trade. The training will open more doors. Level 4 is next, to help fencers who wish to become Certified Fencers and eventually Registered Fencing Contractors. These opportunities have set the pathway for everyone who chose to do the training in our crews to have a new challenge to strive for.

Fencing has opened my eyes to the realisation that hard work does pay off. With the right employers and team, any job that may seem impossible is possible if you work together. Communication is key. Understand what your reason for work is. My reason is family.


Article supplied by Harrison Waara of CPC Fencing

Published in the Fencing Careers & Training feature in WIRED March 2022 by Fencing Contractors NZ