Prepare for excitement as New Zealand’s finest excavator operators battle it out to be crowned National Excavator Operator of the Year in the CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition!
The 26th National Excavator Operator Competition will be held at Central Districts Field Days in Feilding from 18-20 March 2021.
Meet the contenders
Defending Champion: Riki Lum, Clements Contractors
A true craftsman with earth and steel, Riki Lum is also a master carver.
He won last year’s event in a landslide victory, pulling clear of his
nearest rival in the one-day job challenge by 20 points. Riki hails from
Northland, and has worked on a range of different projects, developing a
reputation for excellence, efficiency and an artist’s touch.
Northland: Stephen Jamieson, Fulton Hogan
Auckland: Tevita Tautua’a, Vita Civil
Tevita might have started off in civil construction as a traffic
controller six and a half years ago, but he’s proven himself a natural
behind the controls of an excavator. He faced off against more than 30
competitors at the Auckland Regional Excavator Operator Competition on
his way to nationals, scoring 286 out of a possible 300 points.
Waikato: Mike Bowe, Bowe Brothers Excavating
Mike Bowe is a three-time Waikato champion and an owner-operator with an
eye for detail. He enjoys working on projects big and small, especially
challenging hill sites which keep him ‘switched on’.
Bay of Plenty: Craig Crowley, Crowley Excavators
Craig is a veteran owner-operator who has been behind the controls since
he was 18. Environmentally sensitive earthworks are his specialty. Many
Bay of Plenty orchards and vineyards have been prepared by his hand.
Hawke’s Bay East Coast: Dan Mepham, Gair Contracting
Dan Mepham of Gair Contracting was a contender at the 2018 competition
winning the one-day job and, missing out on nationals by a single point
in 2019. This year, he’s hoping it’s third time lucky.
Taranaki: John Northcott, Graham Harris Ltd.
John is a globetrotting operator, having worked in London and taken on
demolition jobs inside the Sydney Opera House. His wide-ranging
experience has prepared him to take on any excavation challenge.
Manawatu: Neil Tau, Downer
Hometown hero Neil Tau won the Manawatu regionals over last year’s
runner-up Jim Beamsley. While he’s nervous about having a big audience,
watching his skills should be a real treat.
Wellington Wairarapa: Ben Jones, Action Civil
Action man Ben Jones is a site foreman who works on residential drainage
and infrastructure projects. He was the first man to take on this
year’s Wellington Wairarapa course. His work ethic meant he was also
last to leave, working to clean up the site (and polish his skills in
Nelson Marlborough: Leslie Smith, Edridge Contracting
‘Smithy’ (as he is usually known) is a veteran operator, operating excavators in civil, forestry and mining for 34 years. He said his win came down to awareness of health and safety practices - recognised as a key part of the job, along will efficiency and precision.
Canterbury Westland: Sam Gilchrist, Dormer Construction
Sam is passionate about excavators, and took every opportunity to get
behind the controls from a young age. He sees great opportunity in the
civil construction industry, and loves taking on a challenge. Unfortunately, he won't be competing and has pulled out of the competition - he is stuck in Australia and can't get through MiQ!
Otago: Troy Calteaux, Andrew Haulage
Troy was the 2018 champion, but he put family before fame last year to
attend the birth of his child rather than defend his title. This meant
he had to win the Otago finals to make a comeback. He did it in style,
proving he’s one of the very best and adding a second Defending Champion
to the mix.
Southland: Brandon Ferguson, Fulton Hogan
Check out the action from the 2019 event:
This year's event wouldn't be possible without our awesome sponsors.
Platinum and Naming Rights Sponsor: CablePrice