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Record nominations recognise forestry’s top talent

4 September 2023

Heralding the success of the inaugural awards last year, the Central North Island forestry industry stepped up to bring in a record number of nominations for the second year, with seventy-seven contenders up to take the stage at the Energy Centre Rotorua on Friday (4 August) last week.

Her Worship Mayor Tania Tapsell of Rotorua acknowledged that forestry was well known in the region and respected for the trade and skills it brought but as an industry it was important to take time to reflect this and celebrate the people that work so hard. Mayor Tapsell confirmed that Rotorua was the epicentre of forestry contributing NZ$314.7 million in 2022 to the local GDP across forestry, logging and processing.

“Forestry is part of our DNA and we have an exciting future ahead of us despite the current challenges”, Tania resonated. “Our most important assets are our land and our people.”

A new award was introduced this year, the Good Deed Award sponsored by Safetree the industry’s health and safety brand. It recognised a person within the forest industry for paying it forward, helping others or for supporting a charity or initiative or action. The audience on the night chose their winner, votes counted, and Gareth White from G White Logging took out this award acknowledging the fantastic work he undertook during Cyclone Gabrielle, delivering goods and resources to Hakes Bay and Tairawhiti.

Gareth also took out the Hero of the Year award while his company overall, G White Logging went on to take out a strong hold on the night of awards also taking home Female in Forestry, Harvesting Excellence, Log Processing and Trainee of the Year.

From a very strong nomination list of women, two winners were awarded as Female in Forestry, the first Rona Wheeldon from OFM with many years of experience in harvesting operations, and many find her insights are well thought out and reasonable and she continues to be a great advocate for our industry. The equal winner, Rachelle Dunn from G White Logging Ltd, was described as a vital cog in the machine, her unwavering dedication, and remarkable work ethic and affectionately known as “Aunty”.

The Generation Programme was also recognised again, after three years of managing this programme, Damita Mita, CEO for the Central North Island Wood Council and manager for the programme, said, “The Generation Programme remains strategically important to our industry regionally. To date we have run 5 programmes with 38 successful graduates. Of those graduating students 39% moved into employment and 34% continued their studies. Whilst we know the programme has transformed the lives of many of the individuals that have completed the course, it also has a proven positive impact for whanau and plays an important part in maintaining the community backing for the forestry industry – ‘our social licence’. With the changes signalled by Muka Tangata across forestry qualifications we are also looking at how we can do better and how it can be supported on a long-term basis.”

The audience of 500 also exceeded last year’s ticket sales and MC Pio Terei once again kept them entertained at the Energy Centre Rotorua formal dinner celebrating the heroes of the region.

The winners:

  • Generation Programme Graduate of the Year (sponsored by South Waikato District Council): Corban Coxon (Tombleson Logging) Excellence awards: Zshawnee Uatuku and Kadafi ToeToe
  • Trainee of the Year (sponsored by Competenz: Te Pukenga): Norton Craig (G White Logging Ltd) Runner-up: Mana Petero (PR Forestry Ltd)
  • Silvicultural Excellence (sponsored South Waikato Investment Fund Trust): Dean Anderson (D Anderson Contractors Ltd) Runners-up: Kyle Patterson (Ace of Spades Ltd) and Mana Petero (PR Forestry Ltd)
  • Forest Protection and Services Excellence (sponsored by Scion): Steve Gatenby (Timberlands)
  • Harvesting Excellence (sponsored by Manulife Investment Management): Clint Maxwell (G White Logging Ltd)
  • Distribution Excellence (sponsored by RFH): Haeata te Whaiti (Trimble Forestry)
  • Log Processing Excellence (sponsored by Tigercat): Rob Davy (G White Logging Ltd) Runner-up: Kelly Smith (FPNZ Ltd)
  • Log Truck Driver Excellence (sponsored by Patchell): Royce Te Huia (Chris Angus Transport CAT Ltd)
  • Forest Engineering Excellence (sponsored by Ontario Teachers/Manulife): JB (John Boy) Butler (Gaddum Construction Ltd)
  • Wood Processing Excellence (sponsored by Oji Paper Company): Kaylib Winiata (Donnelly Sawmillers)
  • Outstanding Environmental Management (sponsored by Tiaki Plantations Company/Manulife): Razorsharp Harvesting Ltd
  • Outstanding Health and Safety Management (sponsored by Taumata Plantations Ltd/Manulife): Crew 54 (Fast Harvesting Ltd)
  • Outstanding Regional Service Award (sponsored by PF Olsen): Insitu Heritage, Runner-up: Debbie Stewart and Team (Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust)
  • Female in Forestry Award (sponsored by Timberlands): Rona Wheeldon (OFM Ltd) and Rachelle Dunn (G White Logging Ltd)
  • Best Farm Forester Award (sponsored by The WIDE Trust): David Dysart (Apple Tree Farms)
  • Best Native Forest Enterprise Award (sponsored by Wildlands): Wiremu Ruru (Ruru SFL Ltd)
  • Hero of the Year Award (sponsored by First Security): Gareth White (G White Logging Ltd)
  • Good Deed Award (sponsored by Safetree): Gareth White (G White Logging)
  • SPECIAL AWARD: National Forest Industry Collaboration Award (sponsored by the CNI Wood Council): Fieldays Forestry Hub Advisory Group

Photo: Gareth White (G White Logging) – Tim Covic (First Security sponsor) winner of the Hero of the Year Trophy

Source: Central North Island Wood Council

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