Connecting New Zealand

Young talent treads familiar tracks to triumph at Otago competition

09 Feb 2023

Kaleb Hollands of Hollands Excavation took out first place in the CCNZ New Zealand CablePrice Otago Excavator Operator Competition, matching his father Andrew and uncle Carl’s wins of years gone by.

In his first attempt at the competition, and at only 19 years old, Hollands bested the field of expert excavator operators in sweltering conditions at the Taieri A&P Showgrounds on 28 January.

This year’s event included a variety of highly challenging and sometimes quirky tasks, including a test of skill that required operators to use a 13-tonne digger to paint the word “dig” on a board.

Hollands humbly described his first-time win as “a good day out”.

“The best part was seeing everyone enjoy themselves and all the skilled operators doing their thing”.

The highly skilled operator has clearly come a long way from playing on diggers in his back yard when he was five years old. He’s now treading the tracks of family tradition and his win in the regional event will see him competing at the Civil Contractors New Zealand National Excavator Operator Competition Finals in March 2023.

Hollands took the title over a strong competition field that included three-time regional champion Josh Keane of McEwan Haulage and Matt Nelson of Pro Civil Construction. When asked his thoughts on facing defending national champion and fellow Otago region local Troy Calteaux at the finals, he was relaxed.

“I’ll just give it my best - it’s all about the sort of attitude you wake up with on the day”. 

Hollands said his family’s support was crucial to his success and he wanted to thank CablePrice for hosting a great event.  

The best advice he had for up-and-coming excavator operators looking to compete in regional events was to watch and learn, give it a go, "take bits and bobs on board” and see what you can do with them.

Other challenges on the day for the 16 competitors included expert manoeuvres such as delicately pouring a cup of tea and precisely placing a basketball into a manhole using the excavator arm and bucket.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Otago branch chairman Scott Shaw said the contest was about testing the different abilities of civil construction operators. Speaking to the Otago Daily Times after the event, he wished Hollands well in the national finals.

“Represent Otago with pride — but most of all, have fun."

National sponsors included CablePrice, Connexis – Infrastructure Industry Training NZ, Firstgas, Hirepool Ltd, Humes Pipeline Systems, Z Energy, Milwaukee Tools NZ and Attach2.

Local sponsors included Hollands Excavation, Downer NZ, Fulton Hogan, McEwan Haulage Ltd, Isaac Construction, Youngman Richardson & Co Ltd, Fleet Review Services, Andrew Haulage Ltd 2011, Hynds, EROAD Limited, Total Harvest and TR Group. 

Competition photos are available on the CCNZ CablePrice Excavator Operator Competitions Facebook Album.




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