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Kuru two time winner at NZ Forestry Awards 2018

The 2018 Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards were a record-breaker across the board, and fittingly produced the first two-time supreme winner. Source: Timberbiz

Ricky Kuru from Kuru Contracting was toasted by more than 500 guests at the awards dinner as the Eastland Wood Council Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year, as well as collecting the individual Roading Excellence Award.

Mr Kuru last won the top award in 2013.

In its ninth year, the awards attracted the most entries ever, the highest calibre of nominations, some of the closest competition in categories and the biggest celebration dinner.

For the past 16 years Mr Kuru’s company has provided road line harvesting and road construction services to Hikurangi Forest Farms, and many others prior to that.

He is known for his efficiency and high standard of work on all sorts of terrain. He has a strong focus on training for himself and his team – a trait he has carried since he first started in the forestry industry in 1992.

The multi-generational Kuru Contracting began as a family business, with Mr Kuru and his wife Leanne taking over from his own parents.

Sheldon Drummond, who chaired the awards’ judging panel, praised Mr Kuru and his crew.

“He has diversified over the years and continued to develop excellence while providing excellent service to the companies he works for,” Mr Drummond said. “There were several others very close for that overall award, but Ricky came through as a clear winner in the end.”

The awards have continued to grow in both stature and numbers over the past nine years.

“It is an industry which is growing but we are also now into our third generation of forestry people from within the region.

“So, it is an industry which is feeding on its own expertise and we are really developing excellence as we go.

“Entries are up about 25% on last year and just continue to grow. We are just over the moon with the quality of entrants and where the industry has come from and gone to in the past 30-plus years.

“Forestry on the East Coast is no longer a fledgling industry – it is up and running and growing,” Mr Drummond said.

When the first commercial logging in plantation forestry began in the region back in 1985 in Patunamu Forest, the loggers came from Bay of Plenty.

“That has all changed now and it is awesome to see leading expertise emerging from within Tairawhiti,” he said.

“Nine years ago, the Eastland Wood Council decided to start an award system that would mimic what the Golden Shears and Young Farmer of the Year had done, professionalising the industry and it’s people, and now East Coast is leading the way.

“We were the first ones to do this and now other regions throughout the country are following suit.”

Plans are already well underway for an extra special celebration for next year’s 10-year anniversary.

Awards -Training Excellence

  • NZ Apprentice of the Year Georgia Paulson, Blackstump Logging
  • Trainee of the Year Rick Te Whiu, Knowles Family Trust
  • Training Company/Contractor of the Year Pride Forestry Limited, Stacy & Penny Habib

Awards – Skilled Professionals

  • Forestry Excellence Edward Tuapawa, Pride Forestry Limited
  • Roading Excellence Ricky Kuru, Kuru Contracting
  • Harvesting Excellence Nortyn Willis, Down n Out
  • Distribution Excellence Paul Coker, ISO Limited
  • Wood Processing Excellence Loncey Crawford, East Coast Lumber
  • Construction Excellence Brian Deam, Big Bark Loading Contracting
  • Faller Excellence Les Tidy, Pakiri 26
  • Pavement Excellence Kieren McCarthy, Big Bark Loading Contracting

Industry Development Awards

  • Contractor of the Year Big Bark Loading Contracting, Tony Shanahan
  • Outstanding H & S Management Stubbs Contracting Limited
  • Outstanding Environmental Management Mangatu Blocks Incorporated
  • Outstanding Regional Service Performance ISO Limited