Travis Rameka and Craig Crowley have been crowned winners of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty CCNZ CablePrice Regional Excavator Operator Competition. They were the best of 29 competitors across 14 companies at the contest, held earlier this month in front of big crowds at the Fieldays in Mystery Creek, near Hamilton.
Travis, a Fulton Hogan operator, last won the competition for Waikato more than seven years ago, and he has been runner up many times since then. He saw off last year’s winner, Mike Bowe, in a nail-biting finish.
Craig of Crowley Excavators is the reigning champion for the Bay of Plenty having won in 2020. His strong performance means he holds onto his title for another year.
CCNZ Waikato Chairman Adam Plimmer said: “It was great to be back amongst the atmosphere at Fieldays, which was sadly cancelled last year due to Covid-19. The contestants were incredible as always, and I want to extend my congratulations to the winners. They showed some impressive skills.
“I also want to say a big thank you to Nicki Carson for her efforts over the last seven years in leading a hard-working group of people to organise the competition. And not forgetting our amazing MC Neil Ritchie, who always makes the trip from Manawatu for the event. It wouldn’t be the same without him!”
Contestants were required to take part in a range of tasks, including the crowd favourite CTLNZ ‘Barman’ challenge. This saw operators open a bottle of beer with a bottle opener, place the bottle into a holder, and then pour the beer into a glass, all done with the 13-tonne digger.
Another crowd favourite was not a challenge, but a competitor: Max Kelly. At 19 years old, he was the youngest participant by far. He brought a fresh approach to proceedings and while not everything was done by the book, he impressed people so much that some seasoned competitors started adopting his approach. He even scored a perfect 10/10 on the technical ‘Wire Rope’ challenge, which no-one else managed.
An awards ceremony to congratulate the winners will be held at Hamilton’s Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) on Friday 25 June.
1st: Travis Rameka (Fulton Hogan)
2nd: Mike Bowe (Bowe Brothers Excavators)
3rd: Mike McKenzie (Phoenix Civil)
Bay of Plenty
1st: Craig Crowley (Crowley Excavators)
2nd: Grant Majurey (Brian Perry Civil)
3rd: Lloyd Jenks (JME Contractors)
The company trophy
1st: Fulton Hogan
2nd: Phoenix Civil