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Three QRS excavator operators take win!

Tui Paikea threading canva

Machine operator Tui Paikea delicately opened and poured a bottle of beer with a five-and-a-half tonne digger to take first place in this month’s regional advanced excavator operator competition.

Civil Contractors New Zealand held its Hawke’s Bay East Coast excavator operator competition in Hastings last month putting operators through unique challenges in a variety of monster-sized machines.

QRS is celebrating three excavator operator wins with Tui Paikea, Aaron Munro and Shar Hawkins each taking out individual titles in the advanced, novice, and health and safety sections respectively.

Normally excavators are used for digging and relocating dirt, but skilled operators can manipulate a powerful machine to gracefully pour a cup of tea or dunk a volleyball down a pipe.

Mr Paikea has worked at QRS for four years. He says the competition was challenging but having entered before he knew what to expect. “I had butterflies in my stomach but I closed my machine door, put my ear muffs on, and blocked it all out.”

He recommends others in the company have a go at competitions like this as it’s a chance to meet skilled operators and swap work stories. “I would highly recommend it. Have a go. There were some good people down there.”

QRS project manager Mike Wilson watched Mr Paikea compete and says he was “cool as a cucumber. When Tui is working he has real pride in his machine and close attention to detail.”

Mr Wilson says he is very good when it comes to the technical prowess needed to operate the machines. “His skill, and hand and eye coordination are fantastic allowing him to walk and turn the digger the same time he is moving the bucket out.” 

Having taken out first place Mr Paikea will travel to Palmerston North next year to compete in the nationals.

Mr Paikea wasn’t the only winner at the competition with QRS construction project supervisor Aaron Munro taking out the novice excavator section. Mr Munro had to walk 13 and 5-tonne machines through a course of cones, paint letters onto a wall, and stack rocks on a sawhorse.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking,” says Mr Munro. “But I would encourage others to have a go. It’s fun, you get to rate yourself against others in the region, and you get a free lunch!”

Shar Hawkins, a great example of paving a pathway for future female operators in the roading industry, took out the health and safety section at the competition.

QRS had six staff in the excavator competition making it the best-represented company in the regional showdown.

Picture caption: Delicate operation! Much like the retro board game Operation QRS operator Tui Paikea must thread a hoop over a bar that buzzes if it’s touched. Mr Paikea came first in the advanced section of the Civil Contractors New Zealand Hawke’s Bay East Coast excavator operator competition. Image courtesy of Civil Contracting New Zealand. 

19 November 2018

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