Business profile: Demolition South Auckland

Demolition South Auckland is changing the narrative by focusing on repurposing houses and structures instead of consigning them to landfill

Gary often hires equipment from Kiwi Sales and Hire

Gary McGuire’s passion for environmental issues is exemplified by the plethora of awards he has won through Envirofert, a company he founded some 15 years ago to convert food waste and other products into fertiliser.

Gary McGuire has won many awards for his efforts to convert food waste and other products into feritiliser

Always with his eye on the ball to create ways of reducing wastefulness, about three years ago, he decided to turn his attention to repurposing the ever-increasing number of well-built houses and other structures that in recent times have been consigned to landfill.

DOW recently took a trip out to Tuakau to spend time with Gary to look at Demolition South Auckland’s operation. It’s not every day that the person you go to interview lives on a road that bears his name, so it was quite a surprise when the instruction was to be at McGuires Road at 11am.

A rural property about to undergo deconstruction

Driving up the long driveway to Gary’s extensive rural property, there’s a reasonable expectation that pretty soon a number of large sheds packed full of trucks and demolition machinery will come into view, however, it’s an expectation that isn’t realised with nothing to be seen but a rather large house along with a pair of almost equally-sized bulls in a paddock.

The no-gear explanation

Gary McGuire and Christine Tilsley, with Spotty

I’m met at the front door of the house by Gary’s partner Christine Tilsley, closely followed by Gary who promptly explains the reason for the lack of machinery in the yard—he doesn’t have any.

Because of the varying scope and size of the demolitions (or should I say "deconstructions") he undertakes, it makes sense for the company to hire the right-size machine for the specific job at hand.

Gary’s preferred choice of hire company is Kiwi Hire in Drury, as they have an extensive range of machinery to suit every application, as well as the appropriate size of truck to transport the machines to and from each job.

The concept of a deconstruction company not owning its own pieces of larger equipment is a little hard to grasp initially, however, it does make sense for a business that supports reducing waste to apply the same theory to not using the likes of a 20-tonne machine on a job that a 3.5-tonne excavator would be perfectly capable of carrying out.

In short, Gary simply cannot see the point of having a whole lot of capital tied up in gear that’s sitting in a yard while not in use when a quick phone call to Max Morginstern at Kiwi Hire can have a suitable machine delivered the same day and collected again when the job’s finished. That being said, Gary says he’s keeping an open mind about buying his own mid-range excavator for the odd one-off job.

Repurposing good materials

The community and environment benefits from deconstruction as opposed to destruction

Having a strong personal point of view on the wastage I see when a well-built house is being smashed to pieces and sent off to the landfill, I was curious to find out if that’s a sentiment shared by many others.

Gary confirms that there’s a growing awareness across many sectors of the community of the benefits of recycling or repurposing perfectly good materials that would otherwise end up at the tip.

One immediate benefit he says is providing employment to people who want to get ahead in life and learn new skills in a workplace environment. After a short trip to Tuakau township, we’re at one of Demolition South Auckland’s current deconstruction jobs being carried out on an old public hall, which is mid-way through being repurposed into a private dwelling.

This old church will soon be changed into a private dwelling

While only one storey tall at the road frontage, it’s three storeys high at the rear. Gary tells me that he’d removed, meticulously de-nailed, and stacked on-site a trailer load of six-metre-long native timber beams that he intended reusing as a pizza hut in his own garden.

Another deconstruction the company’s currently working on at Kingseat is what was once a reasonably grand country house with a number of outbuildings, including a relatively new four-bay garage.

While its metal frame and roof probably would have been recycled as scrap metal in a typical demolition, Gary’s approach was to give (yes give, not sell) it to a friend who was in the middle of picking it apart with the intention of reconstructing it on his own property, with the only stipulation being that his friend had to carry out the deconstruction, which seems like a great deal for both parties.

The man behind the enterprise

Gary says that he can trace his New Zealand lineage, not merely to the year (1865) but also to the day. Moreover, he can confirm that the ship his grandparents Laurence and Anne McGuire arrived on was named the Ganges and that it docked at Queens Wharf in Auckland at 1900 hours on 18 February that year.

Lawrence and Anne walked all the way from Auckland to Tuakau (it must’ve taken ages in 1865) and settled on the property that Gary lives on today, hence the name McGuires Road.

Gary reckons he has the credentials to carry out the most delicate deconstruction jobs with a digger, as he’s spent a lifetime sitting at the controls of dozens of different machines from different eras in his time with old-timer Clarke McRobbie of McRobbie Bros where he worked in the Mercer and Tuakau swamps, chainsawing and blasting willow stumps with gelignite.

He says he learnt to operate excavation equipment on a Ruston 10RB dragline. Not many people have been around long enough to even know what one of those is; suffice to say, he’s been at it a while.

For further information, contact Gary on 0274 961 870 or

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