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Our apprentices are the toast of the trades

  • November 22, 2019
  • 4 min read

A mechanical maintenance apprentice at our Hautapu site has been awarded a prestigious national award which recognises high-performing engineering apprentices.

Inia Te Wiata was presented with the 2019 Stuart Tolhurst Memorial Award at the National Maintenance Engineering Conference in Rotorua last month.

The award is named in memory of Stuart Tolhurst, a well-known and highly respected engineer who died in 2007, and is open to New Zealand maintenance engineering apprentices in their third or fourth year of training.

The recipient is chosen based on their overall work ethic, initiative and passion for mechanical engineering.

It’s great that Fonterra is able to help people like me make a fresh start. Hautapu is an awesome place to work, mainly because of the team culture we have here. Working with experienced tradespeople and mentors, doing different things each day and learning all the time is really invigorating.

Inia Te Wiata

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Inia Te Wiata and Competenz Training Advisor Allen Bryce

Inia joined Fonterra through a partnership with Tainui. While he was already working, he wanted to change his career to something that he was interested in and that would provide more options. He says he’s humbled by the award but proud to represent the mechanical maintenance trade.

“It’s great that Fonterra is able to help people like me make a fresh start. Hautapu is an awesome place to work, mainly because of the team culture we have here. Working with experienced tradespeople and mentors, doing different things each day and learning all the time is really invigorating.”

They are a great bunch of guys who we monitor closely and set clear goals for, which they respond to really well. We want to be the employer of choice in Taranaki and we always get other businesses trying to pick our brains to find out why we have such a strong history in these awards.

Lead Reliability Engineer at Whareroa Grant Stables

Since 2015 the award has been co-ordinated by Competenz, the industry training organisation which represents 36 industries. Inia was nominated by his Competenz Training Advisor Allen Bryce who says Inia’s attitude is what impresses him most.

“He’s just an all-round excellent guy, hard working and reliable, and the skills of the maintenance trade have become a passion for him. He’s married with three kids so has had to juggle family life, the job and studying at the same time, but rather than use those demands as an excuse not to succeed, he’s just got on with it, with enthusiasm and motivation.”

Maintenance Team Leader at Hautapu Ray Jackson says Inia’s thirst for knowledge and willingness to learn is what sets him apart.

“From knowing nothing at the start, what he has achieved in the four years he’s been with us is incredible. He’s a very quick learner and has a drive to find a better way of doing things. Instead of being content with fixing a problem or a piece of equipment, he wants to find a way to make it better than it was so the problem doesn’t happen again.”

Inia is not the only Fonterra apprentice to be recognised recently with Whareroa apprentices dominating the 2019 Taranaki Engineering Consortium (ETC) awards.

ETC consists of 14 Taranaki businesses who work together to position Taranaki as a centre of engineering innovation and excellence, and the awards showcase Taranaki’s engineering, refrigeration and electrical industries.

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Joel Campbell and ETC Chairman Paul Minchin

Joel Campbell headed off one of the largest fields of applicants in the award's 15-year history to be named ETC Apprentice of the Year for 2019, with four other Fonterra Whareroa apprentices being honoured as well.

Joel also won the Senior Mechanical Engineering title with Hamish Booker second, while Corban Milham was runner-up in the Junior Mechanical Engineering category.

In the Industrial Electrical category, Nathan Purser won the Junior division with Daniel Baylis third in the Senior category.

Lead Reliability Engineer at Whareroa Grant Stables says the results are a testament to the site’s apprentice programme, as well as the apprentices themselves.

“They are a great bunch of guys who we monitor closely and set clear goals for, which they respond to really well. We want to be the employer of choice in Taranaki and we always get other businesses trying to pick our brains to find out why we have such a strong history in these awards.”

“In terms of Joel, he was a ‘firecracker’ when we interviewed him and has an obvious dedication to engineering. He’s a third-generation engineer so it’s in his blood and he always goes above and beyond. I think it’s the first time that a third-year apprentice has won the main award. It’s usually the fourth-year guys who win it.”