Workers take on heatwave: 'It makes working a bit uncomfortable'

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 2:49p.m.

For all those workers sitting comfortably in air-conditioned offices today, bear in mind that many others don't have that luxury.

Construction workers, gardeners, and chefs are among those battling the heat as temperatures near 30C across the country.

Just after 11am the hottest spots were Kawerau on 30.6C, Whakatāne on 30C and Whitianga on 28.5C.

Auckland is also tipped to reach a high of 30C today, with the potential for some of the hottest temperatures the city has seen in years.

For Auckland construction workers Elijah Renata-Smith and Te Maia Pako, employed by Tower Cranes NZ, this means seeking the shade whenever possible.

Construction workers Elijah Renata-Smith and Te Maia Pako. Photo / Doug Sherring
Construction workers Elijah Renata-Smith and Te Maia Pako. Photo / Doug Sherring

"It's nice and warm - it beats the rain - but it is pretty hard as well when it gets to about midday and the sun is just beaming down on you," Renata-Smith said.

"Sometimes we are up the top of the building and there is no shade up there so it just makes working a bit uncomfortable - especially when we have long sleeves on and all our safety gear.

"We always have to drink water and stay hydrated and get in the shade if we can."

While working indoors might seem favourable during these hot summer days, the sweltering conditions in the kitchen at El Sizzling Chorizo in Ponsonby would make most weak at the knees.

The Argentinian barbecue restaurant uses an open fire and glowing embers to cook its selection of meats - creating a sauna-like atmosphere for its staff.

General Manager Gustavo Tanikawa of El Sizzling Chorizo. Photo / Doug Sherring
General Manager Gustavo Tanikawa of El Sizzling Chorizo. Photo / Doug Sherring

"It's hot! It's very close to a sauna," general manager Gustavo Tanikawa said.

"This is a very traditional way of cooking in Argentina, and there is no other way to cook rather than with the wood fire."

However, Tanikawa said weather conditions in New Zealand were much better than in South America.

"The big difference between cooking here and cooking in South America is that we are from a tropical country, so it is much more hot in South America," he said.

"Whether it is summer or winter, we keep hydrated all the time - that is how we keep going."

Despite hot working conditions, gardeners Tracy Branch and Lee Carlyle from Branch Property Maintenance said they'd much rather have the sun over a rainy day.

"We've been mowing lawns, weeding and sweating in Herne Bay today," Branch said.

"It is sweltering, but you get used to it and drink lots of water.

Tracy Branch and Lee Carlyle from Branch Property Maintenance. Photo / Doug Sherring
Tracy Branch and Lee Carlyle from Branch Property Maintenance. Photo / Doug Sherring

"I would pick the sunshine over a rainy day, even though it is horrible and hot - you can't complain. It's not cold and wet so it is the better of the two."

Carlyle added, "It beats sitting in an office, that's for sure."

The region will continue to feel the effects of the Australian heatwave this week with record high temperatures being recorded in parts of the country.

Top spots today were forecast to be inland, with Taumarunui and Te Kuiti both looking at a maximum of 34C.

Yesterday the warmest places around the country all occurred out east, with Napier and Blenheim both reaching 35C to top the lot.

MetService Meteorologist Tui McInnes said that the heatwave is caused by hot air moving over a warmed up Tasman Sea.

"As the air moves over the Tasman Sea, it stays warm. Combining this with calm and settled conditions due to a high over New Zealand, the sun is able to knock those temperatures up a few more degrees."

McInnes urges that with these "hot temperatures and scorching sun" it is important that people are sun smart, hydrated and keep an eye out for vulnerable members of the community, including pets.

Overnight tonight, the mercury isn't set to drop drastically, slowing as it reaches the low 20s where it will sit throughout the week from dusk till dawn.

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