From stirring the curry to steering the truck, Uni Patel’s story of self-reliance

Unnati Patel (Uni), the mother-of-two, is an Indian-origin female truck driver.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2001 and worked in McDonald’s.

Soon, she got her Class 2 license to drive a bus and later passed Class 5 driver licence.

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This means her office is a 360 horsepower 18-wheeler Mainfreight truck. 

In New Zealand, there are only 3 percent female truckies who hold a class 5 licence holders.

Uni told the NewsHub that driving the 46-tonne big rig takes all her concentration.

Especially with reversing and lane changing the most challenging aspects.

Auckland Chemcouriers branch manager Clinton Smith says Uni is very particular about her work.

“She likes to do it as the process should be, she doesn’t take shortcuts and she pushes herself and she strives to do it 100 percent every time.”

Uni says she moved into the big rig after driving buses for three years in Auckland.

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In November 2020, Uni was awarded Driver of the Year from her company Chemcouriers.

She says that people are surprised to see her driving a truck.

“It’s a male-dominated industry but women can fit [in] very nicely.”

Uni Patel is demolishing stereotypes about both the male-dominated trucking industry and the ethnic-migrant woman identity.