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FITEC announce their outstanding achievers at the 2008 National Training Awards

Over 500 finalists, guests and forestry and wood manufacturing professionals celebrated an evening of achievement at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre tonight - when they found out which of the 35 finalists won awards in 11 different categories.

Hosted annually by FITEC (the industry training organisation for the forestry, wood manufacturing, biosecurity and furniture sectors), the FITEC National Training Awards are recognition of the commitment individuals and companies have towards their careers and their industry.

FITEC Chief Executive, Ian Boyd, says "Our 35 award finalists were nominated from around 2000 trainees who completed National Certificates through FITEC during the past year.

"This is from a total of about 12,000 trainees within the broader forest and wood manufacturing sector, which consists of some 35,000 employees in total - so being a finalist is an achievement in itself.

"Our eleven winners are the best of the best. They are ambassadors for their industry and role models for others who want to achieve in the same way that each of them has."

Mr Boyd says the FITEC National Training Awards are also an opportunity to appreciate how significant their sector is to the New Zealand economy.

"We have businesses from forestry, sawmilling and remanufacturing to furniture, pulp and paper and wood panels - and roles as diverse as machine operators, manual workers, technicians, chemists, foremen, managers, engineers, marketers and many others - all contributing to annual earnings of around $3.8 billion."

"This places the forest and wood manufacturing sector as New Zealand's second largest primary industry export earner and means that education and training requirements within this sector are critical.

"FITEC believes that investing in training is one of the most important strategies an individual or company can have and the FITEC National Training Awards is one time during the year when we can celebrate the results of that investment."

The 2008 FITEC National Training Awards were sponsored by Matariki Forests, Checkmate Precision Cutting Tools, STIHL Group, Waiariki Institute of Technology, MAF Biosecurity, the New Zealand Forest Owners Association, NZ Wood, FITEC Furniture, and the New Zealand Institute of Management.

Winners have been judged as the nations best vocational education performers in the forestry, wood manufacturing, biosecurity and furniture sectors. They each received a certificate of achievement and a specially commissioned presentation box created by master carver, Lyonel Grant.

The 2008 FITEC National Training Awards winners (and finalists) were:

Category: Matariki Forests - Modern Apprentice of the Year (Forestry)
Winner: Colleen Cairns, Cairns Forestry Logging Ltd, Rotorua
Finalists: Edward Peet, Marshall Contracting, Tauranga
Papatukiteuru Simpson, R&S Dreaver Logging Ltd, New Plymouth

Category: Checkmate Precision Cutting Tools - Modern Apprentice of the Year (Wood Manufacturing)
Winner: Bobbi-Deen Ruki, Red Stag Timber Ltd, Rotorua
Finalists: David Pakai, WPI Sawmilling, Tangiwai
Craig Johansen, Juken New Zealand Ltd, Gisborne
Kelly Levy, WPI Sawmilling, Tangiwai
Matthew Burns, Findlater Sawmilling Limited, Invercargill

Category: STIHL Group - Trainee of the Year (Forestry)
Winner: Mahana Stone, Professional Forest-Tree Services Ltd, Gisborne
Finalists: James Emanuel, Moutere Logging Ltd, Nelson
Walter Johnson, Sobieski Contractors Ltd, Awanui, Northland

Category: Waiariki Institute of Technology - Trainee of the Year (Wood Manufacturing)
Winner: Mark Crofskey, Tenon Manufacturing Ltd, Taupo
Finalists: Mangu Kalman, Red Stag Timber Ltd, Rotorua
Quentin Quintal, The Laminex Group, Hamilton Operations

Category: MAF Biosecurity - Trainee of the Year (Biosecurity)
Winner: Laurie Meadows, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, Auckland
Finalists: Andrew Chan, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, Auckland
Prabhaker Somasekharan, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, Auckland

Category: FITEC Furniture - Trainee of the Year (Furniture)
Winner: Adam Newby, Paterson Crafted Furniture, Auckland
Finalists: Troy Marshall, Natural Timber Creations, Kerikeri
Eden Simpson, Natural Timber Creations, Kerikeri
Rowan Dicks, Avant Garde, Palmerston North

Category: New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) - Training Company of the Year (Forestry)
Winner: Johnson Forestry Services, Mosgiel
Finalists: Mid Pine Contracting Ltd, Napier
Hancox Logging Ltd, Whakatane

Category: NZ Wood - Training Company of the Year (Wood Manufacturing)
Winner: Norske Skog, Kawerau
Finalists: SCA Hygiene Australasia, Te Rapa, Hamilton
Northpine Limited, Waipu

Category: FITEC Furniture - Training Company of the Year (Furniture)
Winner: Jackson & Cole Ltd, Auckland
Finalists: Turnwood New Zealand Ltd, Tauranga
Molloy Furniture, Auckland

Category: New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) - Outstanding Business Performance through People Development
Winner: Sobieski Contractors Ltd, Awanui, Northland
Finalists: PJ & MJ Olsen Ltd, Tokoroa
Red Stag Timber Ltd, Rotorua
Nelson Forests Ltd, Blenheim

Category: FITEC Training Partner of the Year Winner: Alan Gleason, SCA Hygiene Australasia, Kawerau