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Trainee line mechanics (L – R)  Gareth Owen, Wiremu Te Tawhero and Coban Tamati

New recruits join TLC’s trainee programme

4 June 2020

The Lines Company’s (TLC) commitment to growing the King Country workforce has seen the recent recruitment of three new line mechanic trainees.

TLC currently employs 32 line mechanics, including 10 who are at various stages of completing their national qualification, with four set to graduate this year.

Joining the electricity distribution company’s staff are Gareth Owen of Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga’s Coban Tamati and Wiremu Te Tawhero from Taumarunui.

General Manager Network Mike Fox said TLC is dedicated to offering training and employment opportunities to the communities it serves.

“The line mechanic trainee programme has been a focus of TLC’s for some time with between two to four trainees employed each and every year. Our vision is to grow the local workforce and strengthen our community by offering training and stable employment – we aren’t going anywhere.”

“The programme adds real depth to our company and there is a lot of opportunities for progression in our company so it’s a win-win situation.”

Fox said there is always a high calibre of local applicants which bodes well for the future.

The path to applying for TLC’s training programme was quite different for each of the new recruits.

For 26-year-old Gareth it was the COVID-19 pandemic.

Formerly operations manager at Waitomo Adventures for six years, the resulting shutdown of the tourism sector led to redundancy.

“I had to go back to the drawing board so to speak due to the uncertainty around tourism, and with a new baby son, job security and financial stability was important.”

“I knew I wanted to be outside, stay living locally and commuting didn’t appeal so I got pro-active, updated my CV and went from there.”

He sees TLC’s trainee programme as a very positive career step.

“This is completely new to me. I’m pretty much a lines greenhorn, it’ll test me, and be a real challenge but I’m looking forward to it and am very grateful to TLC to have the opportunity.”

In his spare time Gareth’s main passion is rugby having played for the Waitomo and Kio Kio United clubs. He is also an ardent adventure racer and has competed in the GODzone and Marokopa Munter multi-day events.

A qualified joiner, 30-year-old Coban was ready for a career change and new challenges after 15 years in the trade.

“I saw the recruitment campaign and thought it looked like an excellent opportunity to get new skills and a new qualification.

“I’m excited for the challenges ahead and looking forward to getting out and about the King Country after working inside for ages.

“I didn’t realise how big TLC’s network region is, there’s a lot to see and learn. It’ll be awesome.”

Originally from Turangi, the father of two young boys, values small communities, family and is also keen on the outdoors.

A volunteer firefighter with the Otorohanga brigade, Coban has competed in the Sky Tower Stair Challenge which raises funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ on five occasions. Crossfit is another of his passions, as is time with his family and they share a love of cycling.

After 12 years of living in Western Australia and working in the mining industry Wiremu, his partner and their three children decided home was where their hearts were.

Born and raised in Taumarunui, he said the plan was always to “come back to the King Country”.

After 18 months working as a supervisor at a Taupo sawmill, the family moved to Taumarunui permanently and Wiremu started looking for employment.

“The line mechanic programme really appealed to me and I was so happy to be accepted. It’s outdoors, offers the chance to progress and is secure. I’m happy as long as I’m learning and there’s a lot of that ahead.”

Outside of work, he’s interested in hunting and fishing, as well as spending time with his family.

TLC’s trainee programme comprises practical and theory components taking up to two and a half years resulting in a NZ Certificate in Electricity Supply Distribution Line Mechanic Level 4 qualification.

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