Southern Apprentice of the Year awarded

April 3, 2020
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Wood Council’s across New Zealand this year have had to cancel their annual awards programmes. Measures to tackle the COVID-19 virus and the enforced lockdown of forestry and wood products operations has meant that unfortunately, annual regional celebrations to recognise business and training success have had to be put forward to 2021. It’s been a huge disappointment to all, particularly for those that have stood out over this last year and have put the time and effort into pulling together nominations for the myriad of major annual awards on offer.

The Southern Wood Council (SWC) was one of many that cancelled their planned 8 May annual Awards Evening in Dunedin. However, it was decided by the local industry that one major award, the 2020 Apprentice of the Year award for the lower South Island be independently judged, and the award and associated prizes awarded to this year’s winner and runners-up.

Apprentices, having completed an apprenticeship programme in the training year 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 have but one opportunity to be eligible for this particular award. It was felt that it was only fitting that the industry was able to fully recognise the real commitment that these young people had made to further their training. Five outstanding nominations were received this year from young contractors, all working in harvesting crews, from western Southland through to South Canterbury.

The overall winner for 2020 was Jordan Muru (Jordy) who is working for MJ Logging, a four-man mechanised ground-based crew, based in the Geraldine area in South Canterbury. The progression of Jordy from school through to a major award winner is testament to Jordy’s commitment to training, the investment that has been made by Matt Jordan, owner of MJ Logging into helping Jordy grow his skill set and the induction and training programmes that had already been set up in the region.

Jordy originally was involved in the Primary Industry Academy Programme that was run at Geraldine High School. As part of that course, he went out (along with the other students) to visit Port Blakely’s Geraldine forestry operations. He liked what he saw during the visit, and thought that a career in forestry would be to his liking. Through the programme, he started work experience visits, one day a week, with various Port Blakely harvesting crews.

After a few months of these work experience visits, Jordy got offered a full-time job with MJ Logging. Once started, it was felt that the best way to accelerate his learning, was to enrol him in the Apprenticeship programme administered by the industry training organisation, Competenz. In addition, he was also enrolled in the five-week block courses that were being offered to young apprentices at Mike Hurring’s training facility at Balclutha.

“Jordy’s main role in the crew is managing the skid site, including fleeting, sorting, stacking and loading trucks. This can be a high-pressure situation at times but Jordy is good at his job, he’s able to work calmly and doesn’t lose his cool under pressure” says Barry Wells, Operations Manager – Harvesting with Port Blakely. “Jordy has a number of attributes and characteristics that help him within the crew, and life in general. He has a good work ethic he’s cautious and he’s safe. He asks questions, follows instructions, and picks up new tasks quickly. He also fits in with the crew really well, which is important”.

Barry went on to say that “we wish we had more young people coming into the industry with Jordy’s enthusiasm, attitude and thirst for learning”. Philip Taylor, Managing Director, Port Blakely also commented that “without doubt, Jordan must be one of the most passionate and committed young apprentices working in the Southland and Otago region today”.

The Southern Wood Council and Port Blakely congratulate Jordy on winning the 2020 Apprentice of the Year award and his commitment to furthering his own training and education. As the award winner this year, Jordy picks up a major trophy, a framed certificate, a $500 cheque, $750 of Stihl Vouchers sponsored by the Stihl Shop Milton and a $500 Protos Integral Forestry Helmet sponsored by CRS Communications.

In a closely contested award this year, the two runners up for the award, also both outstanding young apprentices, are Jackson Hopkins of Mike Hurring Logging and Jackson McCallum of McCallum Harvesting. Congratulations go to the 2020 winner, the nominees, their employers and their families. With the calibre of young apprentices coming through, the industry is really well placed to thrive and the Southern Wood Council, the award sponsors and supporters, all look forward to a full awards programme being run again in May 2021.