Connecting New Zealand

Steven George named Northland’s champion excavator operator

14 Dec 2022

CCNZ Northland Branch Chair Kylie Wech with 2023 winner Steven GeorgeSteven George was named the winner of this year’s CCNZ CablePrice Northland Regional Excavator Operator Competition, taking out the regional title at the Whangarei A&P Show on 3 December.

George, an owner-operator with his own Northland-based business S George Contracting, said the competition had gone as well on the day, and it was consistency that had won him this year’s title.

He had been a contender in several past regional competitions, previously taking out second place in the 2019 regional competition. He claimed victory over a strong field that included 2019 National Champion Riki Lum of Clements Contractors, a craftsman with earth and steel and three-time winner of the regional competition.

“For the past six years I’ve been in the Northland competition, and Riki has set the benchmark for past couple. But everything felt good on the day, and everything fell into place just the way it should.”

He said life growing up on his father’s farm had set him up to be a successful excavator operator.

“My old man had a 10-tonne digger on the farm I grew up on, so I used to sit in that and scratch a bit of brown rock for the farm whenever I could. Always been into it, so I got into the industry, then bought my own digger about seven or eight years ago, set up my own company, and here I am.”

As well as the regional title, he also won this year’s Health & Safety activity and the Mini Dig – a challenge where competitors coach young spectators who get behind the controls to operate an excavator themselves - often for the first time.

Stacey Halls of Ventia claimed second place in this year’s regional competition, also claiming the Teams prize alongside his father Adrian Halls showing where he got his skills from. Lum took out third place, while Jono Rapsing of Dempsey Wood Civil won the Good Bugger Award.

To win the title, competitors had to navigate a series of challenges using a Hitachi ZX135 13-tonne excavator in the 13T Main Course, from pouring a cup of tea to the “ball and chain” which does not involve a nagging spouse as the name might suggest.

CCNZ Northland Branch Chair Kylie Wech said the level of competition at this year’s event had been ‘outstanding’ following last years cancellation due to Covid-19. 

“There were some brilliant skills on show out there, and I think it’s clear that Northland’s excavator operators can give the other regions a run for their money. 

“We wish Steven all the best as our Regional Champion, and I’d like to congratulate all the competitors on showing their amazing talents, and all the volunteers and sponsors that made this event possible”. 

George will now go on to compete for the national title against 10 regional champions and Defending Champion Troy Calteaux at the CCNZ CablePrice National Exacvator Operator Competition final in March 2023, held at Central Districts Field Days in Manawatu.

See the full set of photos from the competition on Facebook>>

CCNZ Northland Branch would like to thank Cole Johnston from Robinson Asphalts for taking this year's photos, and the following sponsors:

National sponsors
Naming rights & platinum sponsor: CablePrice
Gold sponsors: Attach2, Connexis, First Gas, Hirepool, Humes and Z Energy
Silver sponsors: Milwaukee

Regional sponsors
Dempsey Wood Civil, Hynds, Promains, and Doug the Digger!

Some photos from the event

The 2022 CCNZ CablePrice Northland Regional Excavator Operator Competition course

A competitor takes on the 13T Grapple Course 'Weightlifting' challenge

The 13T Main Course “Water Pour” challenge

A competitor takes on the 13T 'block traverse'

The Doug the Digger roadshow and mini dig in action

The teapot pour challenge in action

CCNZ Northland Branch Chair Kylie Wech with Adrian (left) and Stacey Halls of Ventia, winners of the Teams Challenge

Steven George showing the laser focus that won him first place

CCNZ Northland Branch Chair Kylie Wech with Riki Lum




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