A hard grafter who was looking for ‘a more physical job’, Jack McCuish started working in the bush back in 1974. He’s still there almost 50 years later, operating a falling machine for Moutere Logging. The man who describes himself as ‘just a old school bushman’ is as hard working as they come. It’s what makes him a Logging Legend.
Logging Legend Insights
Location: Nelson-Tasman Based
Industry connection: Falling Machine Operator
Crew: Moutere Logging
📅 Logging since: 1974
Best aspect of the industry: People
Spare time: Fishing & diving
Drives a: Ford Ranger
Likes a good feed of: BBQ
At age 74, not many people still love working in the bush, but Jack McCuish does.
Originally a commercial paua diver, Jack was looking for a more physical job when a mate suggested he try logging.
“As a paua diver the weather was lousy and the pubs were always open. It wasn’t physical enough for me,” he says.
“I was strong and physical, so I got a job in the bush. That was in 1974.”
Like most, he started on the skids as a QC then went on to tree falling and thinning as he got more experience.
“There were some hardworking bushmen back in those days. They were all in the bush because they liked it,” he says.
“It almost killed me with the physicality. It was hard work with good mates all round.”
Jack says he pretty much worked with a chainsaw for the first 30 years.
“The only thing I could drive was a skidder. I never even drove machines until I was about 60,” he says.
He first met Dale Ewers (Moutere Logging and Falcon Forestry Equipment Founder) in the mid 1990’s.
“I was supervising for Carter Holt Harvey and Dale had come back from the West Coast,” says Jack.
“Then in 1997 he got a key supplier contract while I was working for Mike Nolan as a foreman. Dale bought out Mike and that’s how I came to work for Dale.”
Jack has pretty much been working for Moutere Logging since. He fills in as a falling machine operator for short stints when they need him, between caravan trips he goes on with his wife.
He says things have completely changed since his early days in the bush. He’s currently working a block on its second rotation that he initially helped fell from 1993-1995. Now, 30 years later, they’re back again.
“It makes me feel bloody old,” he laughs.
He says safety improvements have made the job easier in some ways.
“With mechanisation there’s just no comparison whatsoever. Technology is much better than working yourself to death,” he says.
“But it’s pressure logging now too. Back then we supplied the domestic market but now it’s all export.”
He says he’s seen Falcon Forestry Equipment grow from an idea to a multi-national company.
“Dale’s motto was ‘get them out of the dangerous situations – breaking out and falling manually.’ He was a good bushman and he’s a good thinker and a risk taker. He really cares for his men,” he says.
“They’ve taken a lot of people out of unsafe situations. They’re still adapting the technology today, but they’ve got better and better over the years.”
But Jack, the loyal grafter, is a logging legend in his own right too.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m just a old bushman. It’s been a job I’ve enjoyed and still enjoy. That’s all I’ve ever been and wanted to be,” he says.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done but I’m just a practical fella that could never adapt to the paperwork. I take my hat off to Dale and what he’s built.”
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