Product profile: KATO HD512-7 excavator

By: Ed, Photography by: David Lott

Deals on Wheels travelled to Waikato to see a contractor who uses a KATO excavator in his rural contracting business

Despite the continual expansion of Hamilton’s urban boundaries, Waikato-based owner operator Morris Rua of Whatawhata Earthworks Limited still finds there is enough rural work on his schedule to warrant the recent purchase of a new 12-tonne KATO HD512-7 excavator.

"I reckon I’ve got another three to five years to go before it’s time to hang up the keys and retire," Morris says. "This machine should easily see me out.

"I wondered about keeping the old machine, but decided I should buy new again."

Rural contracting is the mainstay of Whatawhata Earthmovers Ltd

Along with Deals on Wheels photographer Dave Lott, I travelled to the Waikato to find out a bit more about Morris and the type of work he does, along with coordinating it with HD512-7’s first service.

The Rua name is well known in contracting circles, with Morris having three machinery-minded sons, two of whom have in similar roles with different companies. 

"One of my boys was a diesel mechanic but moved into engineering work and looks after a packaging factory in Hamilton," Morris says.

"We all do much the same work, and I guess that comes from the family influence when they were growing up."

Morris has been operating in the Waikato area for many years and his workload is primarily rural-focussed, although, he does feature on the urban scene every now and again. Keeping things simple, he has an excavator and no other equipment, preferring to hire in others when required.

It’s an enviable position to be in, as he’s his own master and as long as the workflow continues, the chargeable hours will continue to clock up on his excavator. One downfall, however, is that the tool of his trade needs to be reliable and up to the work required of it, and this is where KATO excavators have been very good to him.

KATO excavators

The KATO HD512-7 has a max dump height of 6410mm

The KATO brand is one Morris has had a lot of experience with, having recently traded his previous model for the upgraded version.

"One particular reason was that I know the machines and they are robust workhorses as well as comfortable to be in all day," he says.

Morris goes on to tell us that the previous machine, which he owned for 10 years, had very little go wrong with it during his time of ownership.

"They’re pretty bulletproof. I had to replace one of the travel drive motors, but that wasn’t due to a machine fault. A strand of fencing wire got caught in the track and wrapped itself around the motor and by the time I noticed it, the damage had been done."

Other than that, the only other work that needed to be carried out was a replacement set of chains due to wear and a leaking seal on the dipper arm ram, which became evident shortly before he decided to replace the machine.

The machine comes with factory-fitted ROPS guarding

"As you can see, I got a real good run out of the last KATO, so there was no reason at all to look around at anything else," Morris says.

"Another reason why I wanted to stay with the brand is that I prefer dealing with a distributor who I know and get on well with.

"I’ve known Jimmy and Scott (Daisley) from HPL Distribution a long time, and if there is any question I have about anything KATO, they have the answer straight away, and I know they have direct communication to KATO in Japan. It’s not like there is a layer of red tape to deal with. "

HPL Distribution Ltd is the exclusive New Zealand distributors for the mid range KATO excavators (8–45 tonne).

Mandatory 100-hour servicing

A number of filters are interchangeable across the models

While the machine is having its 100-hour service, Morris shows us around the machine and points out some of the features he likes, in particular, the factory-built ROPS guarding and operating system.

"I find this new cab to be very comfortable, everything in it. This digital dash shows you everything that’s going on.

"We’ve got a reversing camera for safety. In rural work, there are managers or workers on the farm that come speeding up behind you on their bikes, so it’s really good to have that (camera)," he says.

"The machine also has good visibility with a big window on the right-hand side where you can look right back, and it’s the same on the left."

The HPL Distribution team gives the HD512-7 its 100-hour service

Both Jimmy and Scott from HPL were servicing the HD512-7 on the day of our visit, and a thorough look through of the componentry was taking place along with the swap out of necessary filters and oils.

"This is part of a service we carry out throughout New Zealand with our agents, so no matter where you are in New Zealand, we’ll turn up to service your machine," Scott says.One thing of interest pointed out to us is that certain serviceable items have remained the same over the years.

"KATO have put a lot of thought into spare parts and their longevity," Jimmy says, "things such as track rollers, and even a lot of the filters; you will find that the same parts are interchangeable across the models."

This must be ideal for contractors who build up a stock of parts and consumables in their workshops over the years, to find that they can still be used across the range of KATO excavator models.

Left to right: Jimmy Daisley, Morris Rua, Scott Daisley

In what seems like a reasonable amount of time for a chat about KATO excavators and rural contracting in the Waikato, Morris is ready to start work again and puts a call through to the on-site dumper operator, who arrives a few minutes later.

Before leaving, Morris says, "These machines are excellent for the work I do. I’ve got no reason to go anywhere else. I’d buy me another one tomorrow if I had to."

With that, we stand back a while and watch as Morris Rua and his KATO HD512 gets back into his work day: new machine, newly serviced, and a smile on his face. He doesn’t want for much more. I comment to the others standing beside me, but probably more to myself, that I’m just a little green with envy.

For more information, contact 0800 475 727 or visit

KATO HD512-7 excavator specifications

Operating weight 12,900kg
Engine Isuzu 4JJ1X 4-cyl intercooler-turbo diesel
Emission class Stage IV (Tier 4)
Rated output 78.5kW@2000rpm
Max torque 375Nm@1800rpm
Pumps Double variable piston pump and gear pump
Max discharge flow 2x126L/min
Bucket digging force 94kN
Fuel tank 275L
Max digging force 8300mm
Max digging depth 5590mm
Max digging height 6410mm

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