Grace Lowe is the only girl in the workshop - you will find her wearing the bright pink work boots.

"I'm just making a statement that there's a girl working here," she says.

It doesn't bother her being the only female mechanical engineering apprentice at Page Macrae Engineering in Mount Maunganui.

"Being a girl is fine, I haven't found it has affected me at all. Everyone has been really accepting and has treated me the same," Lowe said.


"But if something is a bit heavy or whatever people are always willing to give me a hand."

The 19-year-old from Gate Pā was one of four recipients to be awarded a $3000 Acorn Foundation scholarship to spend on tools. Lowe also received an additional $4300 to put towards further training.

Lowe has already spent some of the money on a pair of women's work boots.

"That means a lot as up until now I have been using men's boots which are far too big and heavier than I'm used to," Lowe said. "They are bright pink."

The teenager will also use some of the money to buy a respirator for welding "so I'm not breathing in toxic welding fumes".

"Receiving this scholarship from the Acorn Foundation means a great deal to me," Lowe said. "The money will help to pay for my tools, which will help me to work more efficiently and accurately in my trade."

Lowe said the scholarship had made an enormous impact towards her growth as an engineer where she hoped to one day specialise in welding and fabrication.

The Tauranga apprentice said she fell into engineering by accident after signing up for a welding course which was too full and having to switch to an engineering course.

"I ended up loving it," Lowe said. "I liked that you could still study as well. I didn't want to give up studying, but I wasn't ready to go to university yet."

While pursuing the career, Lowe also discovered her father was a fitter and turner welder - a field she had wanted to get into.

Page Macrae's apprentice training co-ordinator Grant Holland said the company had a strong apprenticeship programme with 21 apprentices working towards their mechanical engineering qualifications.

"It is fantastic these young people are being rewarded," he said. "They had to prove the sacrifices they made and their commitment to their apprenticeships."