Special report: Alistair McIntyre launches new book

Alistair McIntyre's A Solid Handshake is a mix of a biography and life tips, gathered over many years working in the civil construction, transport, and farming industries

Alistair McIntyre, aka Doug the Digger, had me scheduled for the launch event of his latest book in mid-November. It was held at the clubrooms of the Northland Vintage Machinery Club in Whangārei — an ideal venue to unveil all his biography and life tips, gathered over many years working in the civil construction, transport, and farming industries.

Many throughout the country may know Alistair from his Doug the Digger series of children’s books, educational products, and attendance at field day events. Alongside partner Barbara Busst, he can often be found teaching rudimentary digger skills on a Cat 301.8C mini excavator to young and not-so-young potential operators, usually in the near vicinity of a Civil Construction New Zealand excavator operator competition.

Alistair McIntyre

Supported by family, friends, business associates, and even the Whangārei mayor Vince Cocurullo, those in attendance were treated to cultural performances by Maunu Primary School’s kapa haka group, while helpers from Northland Vintage Machinery Club, Kaipara Heritage Machinery, Whangārei Special Olympics, Whangārei Riding for the Disabled, and CCNZ Northland Branch ensured guests were fed, watered, and escorted to live displays put on by some of Alistair’s sponsors.

A number of key speakers told guests of their connection to Alistair, many of them highlighting his contributions to their lives, businesses, and organisations.

One speaker who took on Alistair’s life advice was Jake Rouse, who told guests that academic studies weren’t for him and at high school was introduced to civil construction through the Youth into Industry initiative (DOW 237), which Alistair established in 2012.

"I’m now a quarry manager with Clements Contractors, and if it wasn’t for Alistair, I’d probably be flipping burgers somewhere," says Jake.

From left: Little Cutie 301.8 (pictured in the background), Logan Collings, Barbara Busst, Mayor Vince Cocurullo, Alistair McIntyre, Jake Rouse, Trent Hodkinson, John Bryant

Alistair’s life — as readers will find from reading A Solid Handshake — will resonate with parents who have children who do not respond to the standard education system or who perhaps have learning difficulties. He shows us that everyone can contribute positively to a healthy society, no matter what their background or personal limitations may be.

It’s difficult to say how many people Alistair has encouraged and helped get into the civil construction industry, but it must be in the hundreds, if not more. However, none of this may have come to pass if it wasn’t for a workplace accident that occurred in 1986 when his life was thrown into turmoil.

On the back of recovering from the physical and mental trauma of the incident, Alistair’s life took a new turn and off the back of that, Doug the Digger was conceived, which in itself necessitated a whole new learning cycle, but one Alistair took on with his usual enthusiasm.

Maunu Primary School’s kapa haka group provided cultural entertainment

Fast forward to today and Alistair says he has given talks to more than 1300 school assemblies and is probably one of the most well-known promoters of the civil construction industry to youth, with his efforts sponsored by Hirepool, Hynds Pipe Systems, Civil Construction New Zealand, along with a host of smaller sponsors.

His book is a good insight on how much he has accomplished in a short space of time and along with his partner Barbara, why they have more than earned the recognition and respect from the industry and those around them.

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