A 20-year old boat-building apprentice employed by Far North Holdings has come second in a national boat-building competition. Todd Leahy from Opua was part of a team drawn from marine businesses around the Bay of Islands to compete in the annual Marine Trades Challenge in Auckland in February.

The team, Apprentice Inc, comprised three apprentices and a qualified boat-builder from Far North Holdings-owned Bay of Islands Boatyard in Opua, Craig Partridge Yachts in Waipapa and Orakei Marina in Auckland.

Despite missing out on the overall winner’s podium the team did win the Innovation and Best-built Boat category of the challenge.

Teams had to build a catamaran from a single design. The two hulls had to be joined by a bridge deck, built in advance by the apprentices and the only part of the build where they were allowed to choose their own materials and design.

“Todd and the boys turned up with a wonderfully-made bridge deck built of plywood, cleverly designed and finished off to a very high standard indeed,” said Mike Birdsall, a field officer with NZ Marine and the Marine Trades Challenge co-ordinator.

Leahy said he learned new skills as a result of entering the challenge, made some useful contacts, developed teamwork skills and now has more of an understanding about building boats from scratch and to plan.

Far North Holdings (FNHL), the commercial arm of the Far North District Council, and NZ Marine, the organisation responsible for promoting the growth and development of the national marine services, want local youngsters to learn about the career opportunities on offer in the areas of marine design and engineering.

“Everyone knows about the world-class sailors New Zealand produces,” Birdsall said. “What’s less well known is the fact that they and competitive sailors from many other parts of the world are all buzzing around in boats that have been designed or built, or both, right here in NZ.

There are currently 360 marine trades apprenticeships in New Zealand, all available through NZ Marine. FNHL offers one of these at Bay of Islands Boatyard in Opua. It also plans to develop apprenticeships in marina, property maintenance, hospitality and marina management with the development of Stage Two of the marina.

Far North Holdings Limited
Opua Marine Park
P.O. Box 7
Opua, 0241
Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Telephone: (09) 402 5659
Fax: (09) 402 5669
Email: enquiries@fnhl.co.nz

The FNHL Board recognises that for many young people leaving school in the Far North this is an important gateway to a good career, so it is keen to offer as many trades apprenticeships as it can.

Bay of Islands Boatyard apprentice Todd Leahy (left) and NZ Marine field officer Mike Birdsall want local youngsters to learn about the career opportunities on offer in the areas of marine design and engineering.