Connecting New Zealand

King of heavy metal crowned at national excavator competition

20 Mar 2023

Otago’s Troy Calteaux has emerged as ‘top dug’ at the 2023 Civil Contractors NZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition, showing the weight of his mettle to defend his national title against a formidable field of 12 regional finalists.

The Milton local and Andrew Haulage 2011 Ltd employee dug deeper than ever before, securing the win and becoming a three-time national champion. Calteaux’s success at this year's competition, held on 17 and 18 March at Manfeild Park in Feilding during the Central Districts Field Days, follows national titles in 2018 and 2021 and puts him alongside the most successful operators in the competition’s history.

“I put everything into it this year. I focused on each task and it just went mint, that was the best performance I’ve had at the nationals.

“There was a massive crowd, it was so awesome and a great bunch of guys, real camaraderie this year. It just feels like family now.”

The competition saw regional champion excavator operators manoeuvring their 13-tonne Hitachi excavators through a series of high-stakes challenges, including crowd-pleasing tests of skill such as uncorking a champagne bottle, pouring the perfect cup of Earl Grey tea, or slam dunking a basketball using the buckets of their machines.

The runner-up this year was Northland champion Steven George, of Steven George Contracting Ltd, who put in an impressive showing at his first shot at the nationals. The 2021 runner-up, veteran Waikato competitor Mike Bowe, of Bowe Brothers Excavating Ltd, placed third.

Calteaux said the standard of competition was high and the newcomers this year were “sharp”.

“On Friday night after the first day of competition my nerves were shot – I was still awake at 2 am and had to go for a walk around the hotel carpark to calm myself.

“Every run is different, the organisers try to throw you and put you through a real pressure cooker.”

One of the more job-specific challenges was the Z Energy One-day Job Challenge, where competitors had to demonstrate start-to-finish competence for a common task, such as planning, layout, and execution of a particular job. George impressed the judges with his seamless approach and took the highly respected trophy home.

The Humes MVP award went to Bay of Plenty regional champion Marni Kemp, of Central Demolition, who demonstrated a willingness to chip in and help others out as well as all round positive approach through the event. The award recognises teamwork and goes to the person judged to be the one you’d most want to have working by your side.

This year a new award was included to commemorate Geoff Duff of Carterton – a nationals judge and truck driver who passed away last year due to pancreatic cancer. The Geoff Duff Memorial Trophy goes to the person demonstrating the best scores across the truck-loading challenges featured in the competition and was won this year by Jarrod Hoskins of Fulton Hogan.

CCNZ Chief Executive Alan Pollard congratulated all the competitors for taking part, and Calteaux on his victory.

“Troy put in a tremendous performance - not everyone is able to perform at the top level under such pressure against the best of the best. He showed that nothing and no one could throw him off track. Troy is the toast of his peers and an example to the industry - the cream of the crop.”

Pollard said the competitors were the lifeblood at the heart of New Zealand’s civil construction industry. Their skills and the inspiration they provided to the next generation of excavator operators would be critical in the years ahead.

“All the competitors are heroes in my book – both for triumphing at the regionals plus the critical work they do day-to-day maintaining and developing New Zealand’s infrastructure and being front and centre of the response to the recent serious weather events. The operators should be well proud of themselves – I take my hat off to all of them.”

He also congratulated the CCNZ Manawatū Whanganui Branch for 28 years of delivering the competition, originally conceived by local Manawatū contractor Graeme Blackley of Blackley Construction, and all the hard work put in behind the scenes by Branch Chair Greg Lumsden and his team, as well as the CCNZ national office team, to make this year’s event a success.

The Platinum Sponsor for this year’s competition was CablePrice, which has been a longstanding supporter of the industry and the competition. CablePrice also provided and serviced the Hitachi excavators the competitors operated during the event. Other major competition sponsors include Attach2, BeforeUDig, Connexis, First Gas, Hirepool, Humes, Z Energy, Milwaukee, Civil Trades, Contractor Magazine, and Doug the Digger.

The CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition has been running since 1994.

An EPIC Careers Hub also featured at the Central Districts Field Days and featured a VR excavator, truck driving and traffic control experiences, a Connexis digital simulator, an excavator experience, floor talks from infrastructure construction workers and opportunities to meet and be hired by civil infrastructure construction companies.

The 2023 winners were:

  • Champion: Troy Calteaux, Andrew Haulage 2011 Ltd, Otago
  • Runner-up: Steven George, Steven George Contracting Ltd, Northland
  • Third Place: Mike Bowe, Bowe Brothers Excavating Ltd, Waikato
  • Z Energy One-day Job Challenge: Steven George, Steven George Contracting Ltd, Northland
  • Humes MVP Award: Marni Kemp, Central Demolition, Bay of Plenty
  • Geoff Duff Memorial Trophy: Jarrod Hoskins, Fulton Hogan, Auckland

Troy Calteaux won his third national finals with victory in the 2023 competition.

Hawke's Bay competitor Dan Mepham doing the log walk at the CCNZ CablePrice 2023 National Excavator Operator Competition.




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