Taranaki’s champion excavator operator was crowned at a dramatic regional contest on Sunday, as Shaun Curtis from I&D George Contracting saw off stiff opposition to take first place at the CCNZ CablePrice Taranaki Excavator Operator Competition. He was up against some of the region’s best operators, including his I&D George Contracting colleague, Mark Hale, who came in second.
Shaun impressed with his highly technical and precise skills during a number of high-pressure challenges. Operators are required to manoeuvre a 12-tonne excavator through a course, staying clear of hazards while completing tasks that demonstrate the abilities required of an excavator operator by the industry.
Tasks included tests of 'real-world' skills, such as traversing a trench, lifting and relocating a manhole cover, and demonstrating their knowledge of health and safety, as well as crowd-pleasing tasks, including ‘slam dunking’ a basketball using the excavator bucket and painting a sign using a paint brush attached to the excavator blades.
Mr Curtis said he was “stoked” to take first place in his first attempt at the nationals.
“My boss entered me and Mark into the competition and only told us about it afterwards – but I was stoked he did it. I’m really happy to have won. In the end, I was just a few points ahead of Mark – he’s a really good operator.”
The contest was held in Cory John Place, Bell Block, New Plymouth in sunny but windy conditions, making the challenges that much harder. Luckily, Mr Curtis’ experience working around oil and gas pipelines put him in good stead.
“I often work near the high-pressure Maui Pipeline which runs through Taranaki. When you’re working with oil and gas lines you have to be pretty careful and have a lot of precision, so all of the challenges were good for me in that way.”
Coming in third place was Derek (JJ) Hoeta from Offshore Plumbing and Pipeline. A special mention was also given to Noel Heemi from Downer NZ, who nailed the health and safety component of the course.
The CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition has been a staple on the construction calendar since 1994. Every year the defending national champion and the winners of the 11 regional excavator events compete in the national championships, held in March at the Central District Field Days in Feilding.
Shaun will represent Taranaki at that event, and is looking forward to it. “I’m really keen for the nationals. I’ve never been to Field Days, so it will be nice to compete there.”
“I enjoy operating excavators because there’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing the end results of your work. Getting given a job, picturing it in your head and then achieving is really satisfying. You can be proud of what you do every day.”
National sponsors of this year’s CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition were CablePrice, Connexis, First Gas, Hirepool, Humes and Z Energy.
OPS Plumbing and Pipeline provided the site for this year’s event, and Netta Burnside of BRAND-X kept the news and updates rolling.
To see photos from the event, visit the CCNZ Facebook page>>
Shaun Curtis completing the painting challenge on his way to becoming Taranaki champion.