The forestry industry of Te Tairāwhiti was toasted last night before a sell-out crowd of 500 at the 2021 Eastland Forestry Awards.
The coming together of the many men and women who contribute to one of the region’s leading industries is always a cause for celebration, but last night it was to recognise the skill and expertise of the best across the industry.
More than 60 entries were received across the 14 sections and in the end, it was Ben MacArthur from Speirs Logging who was crowned the Supreme Skilled Professional of the Year after earlier winning the award for Faller Mechanised or Manual Excellence.
Ben has been at the forefront of using certain machines and a key contributor to innovation and mechanisation on the East Coast. He started in the industry as a teenager and has worked his way up to be a very respected foreman and high-skilled mentor and leader. Speirs Logging, known for their high production rates and focus on reducing environmental impact, also won the Crew of the Year crown.
Dan Gray from Forest Management Solutions was honoured for his outstanding health and safety commitment, and particularly for his drive to keep forestry drug free.
Judges were most impressed to see an array of environmental initiatives underway throughout Te Tairāwhiti, but the award went to Forest Enterprises for their commitment to always putting the environment first.
Judges Ian Brown, who is Woodhill Consulting managing director, Alan Paulson, the managing director from Tairāwhiti Timber Training, and Jeff Cornwell from Health and Safety NZ, faced a tough task to find just a single winner in many of the sections, saying they had debated long and hard over most sections. “It is good to see we have a lot of skilled men and women out representing so many different parts of our industry,” said Alan. “The level of skills, training and caring is impressive.”
Long-time forestry and trucking stalwart Dave Pardoe was honoured for his passion and commitment to the industry after decades of work, and more recently driving the Tairāwhiti Road Transport Training Trust where he is endeavouring to fill a critical need in the region.
Eastland Wood Council CEO, Philip Hope remarked, “I would like to thank the sponsors and acknowledge all of the nominees, their family’s and colleagues for enhancing the reputation of the forestry industry in Tairāwhiti. We too are grateful for the leadership of the forestry companies and service providers who have supported the Council with recognising and celebrating excellence in our industry.”
MC for the evening, for the awards which were held at the Farmers Air Events Centre, was comedian and television show host, Jeremy Corbett.