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Competition about to heat up in Levin

Ultimit Women's team - Laisa Pickering (Electrix), Emily Flynn (Unison), Serah Russell (Unison), Azra Wenzlick (Electrix), Natasha Goodall (Unison), Juliet Fordyce (Unison) gearing up for the 2022 Annual Connection Competition

2022 Annual Connection Connexis Competition 

Competition will be hot next week as Electricity Supply Industry staff pit their workplace skills against fellow workers from around the country.

Teams from power companies from as far away as Te Awamutu in the north and Invercargill in the south, will be putting their workplace skills to the test in a series of fast paced line mechanic and cable jointer events in Levin from September 27-29.

Annual Connection 2022 is designed to replicate competitors’ usual workday and test their teamwork and expertise, the competition includes rescuing a ‘person’ from the top of a power pole, erecting a power pole, and a first aid competition.

Organised by Connexis, the infrastructure division of Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning, Director Kaarin Gaukrodger says the event is a three-day celebration of the Electricity Supply Industry and the essential work it does keeping the lights on and the country connected.

Diversity within the workforce will also be at the forefront of the event with an all-women’s line mechanic team competing for the first time.

“Having missed out celebrating our 10-year anniversary of Ultimit – Women in Infrastructure due to Covid-19 we have worked with industry to support an all-women’s team in the line mechanic event, for the first time. This marks the excellent work industry have put into increasing diversity within the workforce,” Gaukrodger says.

Team manager Laisa Pickering, from Electrix Auckland, says the group’s biggest challenge is learning to work together as a crew in a short time because they come from different companies and different parts of the country. Most other competition crews will already have worked together for some time.

“But these women know what they are doing. They are already working together well. They will get out there at the competition and show everybody they are just as good as the guys.”

Pickering says that it is important to her that women and young girls in the crowd see this team in action, see what they can do, and realise they might be able to do it themselves.

“My biggest job as the team manager really is to keep their confidence up and make sure they can give themselves those pep talks you need when you start to doubt yourself.”

Gaukrodger adds that after a two-year hiatus due to Covid disruptions, Annual Connection is excited to be back and showcasing the Horowhenua region, with host Electra as they celebrate their 100-year anniversary.

Electra is New Zealand’s ninth largest lines company and covers the Kapiti-Horowhenua region. This location for 2022 aligns with the work Connexis is focused on to ensure accessibility of training throughout all regions of New Zealand, as part of the Te Pūkenga charter.

“It is important to keep looking ahead, and to celebrate our people who continue to achieve great things amid the lockdowns and uncertainty of the past couple of years,” Gaukrodger says. “A lot of that work goes unseen by the general public and events like Annual Connection are a unique chance to show off the skills and expertise we have in the industry.

“There’s no better way to understand what it’s like to be a line mechanic or cable jointer than by seeing them in action. It’s a great way to demonstrate to school students what a career in the Electrical Supply Industry can offer.”

The event also features a supplier exhibition, engagement with local schools, and culminates with an awards ceremony and dinner to recognise the best and brightest trade and technical workers across the wider energy industry.

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