Maungatua Contracting

A Wanaka based company keeping business close to home


Maungatua Contracting is named after the ridge that dominates the skyline of the Taieri Plains in Otago, where the business was established in 1953 by Murray Duncan. Although the earthworks company moved to Wanaka in 1986, the Duncan family remains the owner and the name has remained unchanged.

Murray’s son Robert now runs the business, along with his twin sons Blair and Kane, both civil engineers. Lynette, Robert’s wife, runs the administration side of things, and the twins’ partners are also involved.

“We never pushed for our boys to join the company – they found their own path there. As for the next generation, they’re a bit young yet, only aged five or under. I’m also from a family of contractors and my father aged 83 is still contracting in Roxburgh,” says Lynette.

Maungatua’s core business is earthmoving and a broad range of civil construction services including land development, subdivisions and utility services. The Duncans concentrate their business in Wanaka itself.

“Coming to Wanaka in 1986 was the best business decision we made – it’s where the work is.  We’ve carried out contracts in Tarras and Cromwell, but we don’t need to go away as there’s consistently plenty of work here.

“For example, we’ve been looking after the earthworks at Treble Cone since 1977; have carried out many subdivisions in the town over the years, and we’ve just begun preparatory site work for a new hospice at the medical centre. We have a good reputation built up over a long time and have a strong referral customer base. We’re not a big company, but we can do the big jobs,” explains Lynette.

Assisting the team to do the ‘big jobs’ is the fleet of Maungatua’s modern earthmoving and excavation machinery, with  most of the Caterpillar machines fitted with GPS.

For Lynette, the internet and cloud-based accounting systems have changed the way she does business. She says, “Xero is fantastic.  A few years ago we were producing the invoices here, sending them to our accountant in Dunedin. Then they’d ring us for information and details, send the invoices out, collect the money and handle the debtors. For us, it was very hard to track.”

Lynette finds the family doesn’t need to travel to Dunedin as frequently any more to see Markhams Clarke Craw consultant Gavin Craw. “We used to go once a month, but now we’re on Xero, Gavin and his team can log in and see our accounts online and in real time. It’s the best thing and has made the job between us and the accountant more streamlined,” she says.

Gavin keeps “good tabs” on the company’s finances as well as the family’s personal business, but only meets with his clients every six months or so. “We’re more independent now than we ever were, although if we are looking at a major capital purchase, we will discuss it with Gavin to ensure we’ve got the work to support that purchase.”

Across the business, the Duncans employ 24 staff, mostly in their subdivision contracts. Kane and Blair have their own job and are in charge of different contracts and sites. “At the moment, Kane is working on an irrigation project in Tarras while Blair is focusing on the subdivision contracts around town, particularly the Infinity Investment Group’s work in Wanaka.

“Wanaka is a fabulous.  There’s plenty going on and it’s a beautiful place,” says Lynette.

Published Summer 2015

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