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

TLC trainees graduate with flying colours

20 December 2022

The Lines Company’s (TLC) trainee programme has again seen newly qualified line mechanics graduate with formal qualifications and certified industry registration.

Coban Tamati (Waitomo), Gareth Owen (Te Kūiti) and 2021 Connexis Distribution Trainee of the Year – Wiremu Te Tawhero (Taumarunui) who began their training in mid-2020, have all qualified having completed their final theory and practical tests.

General Manager of Service Delivery, Jared Murrell, says TLC’s ongoing commitment to the trainee programme now in its seventh year is testament to the businesses success in growing local talent.

“The programme is a great opportunity for locals to gain a trade and a highly sought-after qualification.

“For us, the line qualifications continue to benefit the wider team through the development of skills, knowledge and experience the trainees have gained.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see Coban, Gareth and Wiremu graduate – they’re shining examples of what can be achieved,” says Murrell.

The three graduates are headlined by Wiremu Te Tawhero who was awarded the Connexis Distribution Trainee of the Year in 2021.

Based in Taumarunui, Wiremu Te Tawhero, also won the Ross Archer Memorial Line Mechanic Safety Award at the 2022 awards. He was a member of the four-strong crew who picked up the Line Mechanic Build and Colin (Bear) McKay Memorial Trophy for Line Mechanic Dismantle at the national competition in September this year.

He says gaining the formal qualification has been incredibly rewarding.

“The last two years have been challenging – I’ve learnt so much,” says Te Tawhero.

“It’s been a real buzz to get complete the training while working with great field crews and mentors.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and how I can make a difference for those in our community.”

Wiremu’s passion for safety has shone throughout his training and he sees a real future in focusing on keeping people safe while working on or near power lines.

Coban Tamati from Waitomo joined TLC’s training programme having spent over a decade as a qualified joiner. Working outdoors and learning new skills is what attracted him to the role.

“I really wanted to work outdoors having been inside for a lot of years,” says Tamati.

“The King Country has some amazing places, and I’ve seen lots of them now in my job.

“It’s more than just being outdoors though. For me, learning new skills and getting qualified was also important. It was a big goal of mine to complete the qualifications and get fully certified.”

For Te Kūiti local, Gareth Owen, joining the trainee programme was brought about due to the COVID pandemic.

Formally the operations manager at Waitomo Adventures, the 28-year old’s role was disestablished due to boarder closures.

“2020 was definitely a year of change for me. New industry, new workmates, and a new baby,” says Owen.

“Job security was really important, so I looked around to see what opportunities were available.

“I knew I wanted to be outside, stay living locally and didn’t really want to commute. TLC’s trainee programme ticked all the boxes.

“Completing all the training modules has been demanding, in a good way. I’ve learnt so much and have made some great life-long friends. It’s totally different to what I was doing before, but it’s been an adventure at the same time.”

Owen remains involved in the adventure sector, regularly competing in multi-day adventure races held locally and further afield.

All three trainees completed the final step of the programme in late 2022, when they received their registration as Line Mechanics with the Electrical Worker’s Registration Board having achieved a New Zealand Certificate in Electricity Supply Line Mechanic Distribution (Level 4).

TLC’s trainee programme offers several placements for prospective line mechanics and apprentice electricians looking to develop a career in the electricity sector. Applications for the next intake open next year, with successful trainees commencing roles in mid-2023.

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