The Southern Wood Council’s annual Awards evening is a celebration of the successes of those men and women working within the industry who have achieved formal training qualifications over the year.
The evening also profiles the contribution that forestry and those working within the industry are making to the economic and social well-being of the region.
Fitting for the prestigious event, the 2018 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards evening was hosted in Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Held in May, the event was attended by over 300 forest managers, forestry contractors, transport operators and product and service suppliers to the industry from throughout the lower South Island.
The Southern Wood Council, which represents all major forest owners and most of the major wood processing companies in Otago and Southland, ran the 2018 Awards programme in conjunction with the country’s industry training organisation, Competenz.
Through a series of nine major awards, the event also recognised the forest industry’s top performers from across the lower South Island.
Grant Dodson, Chairman for the Southern Wood Council, says the turnout by forestry workers, their families and supporters on the night was a true reflection on the momentum that has been building over recent years with on-site training and safety in the region.
“In addition to recognising the training achievements of forestry workers and crews that have really stood out over the past 12 months, the industry was able to come together at one place to celebrate the industry along with training and business success.”
With many companies bringing all of their staff and workers from Invercargill through to Timaru to help celebrate the successes, the message about the value of the awards evening has certainly found it’s mark.
“This year we even had staff from a local West Coast mill along with workers from Stewart Island who had achieved training qualifications over the year travel through to Dunedin to be recognised on the night,” says Grant.
Presenters and speakers at this year’s awards evening included Jamie MacKay, host of New Zealand’s flagship rural radio show, The Country, and guest speaker Aaron Fleming who provided a gripping, emotional and truly inspirational story to all those gathered.
Aaron is a Sir Peter Blake Leader Award recipient, author of motivational book Purpose, multiple international Ironman athlete, New Zealand’s Olympic Games torchbearer, previous finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year and a television presenter— and he’s only in his early 30’s.
Around 120 National Training Certificates that had been achieved in Forestry & Wood Processing were awarded to top local contractors and forestry and wood processing employees. Six apprentices who have started on a new regional training scheme this year were also recognised at the awards ceremony.
Mike Hurring, a well established logging and harvesting contractor in the Otago and Southland region, established a harvesting training school in Balclutha last year.
The apprentices attend five one-week training blocks over a ten-month period, then go on to complete their apprenticeship with practical training on their own work sites.
With financial support being offered by local forestry companies, the inaugural six apprentices received their first NZ Certificate in Basic Machine Operation at the Awards evening.
All apprentices are expected to finish the course in October, with another group expected to commence in June.
Getting the apprentices on board is a combined effort from Mike, and Phil Williams from Competenz. The accredited Industry Training organisation (ITO) fully supports the initiative.
With a focus in promoting forestry as a future career choice, Mike held an open day In Balclutha on Saturday the 2nd of June bringing with him an impressive array of logging machinery from the bush. The event was attended by some 200 keen and enthusiastic school students and their families.
Harvesting machines, skidders, diggers and new state of the art production thinning equipment was all on display, enabling people to get up close and personal with machines that would not normally be accessible.
Some people even took the opportunity to sit in the cabs and dream about a future career in New Zealand’s growing forestry industry.
Two of Mike’s harvesting machine simulators were in operation and many people—young and the young at heart—tried their hand at felling trees, loading forwarders, and driving these large machines through the forest. The simulators are a vital part of Mike’s harvesting training school in Balclutha.
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