Girls can do anything. A local woman is proof of that after scooping a top award for her engineering apprenticeship at Ravensdown in Napier.

Marlane Harmer, 23, won the Competenz Stuart Tolhurst Apprentice Trophy at this year's 2015 SKF National Maintenance Engineering Conference (NMEC) in Hamilton.

The award celebrated good work ethic, initiative and overall passion for mechanical engineering.

"I was blown away by the win. It's really cool, such a great feeling," Ms Harmer said.


"I'm really thankful to everyone who has helped me get to this point in my career."

The mother-of-one had been a barmaid struggling to find other work when a chance encounter thrust her into what would become a lifelong career.

"I was a barmaid at a local pub when I ended up having a chat with Rob Miller (Ravensdown maintenance manager)," she said.

"I was handing out CVs everywhere but not having much luck. Rob said he'd put in a good word for me."

Mr Miller said the dedicated engineer was passionate about the work, and it showed in her attitude and commitment.

"We nominated Marlane for the award not because she's female, but because of her whole attitude and the skills that she has developed.

"From my 30-plus years of working in the trades, Marlane is the best apprentice I've ever come across," he said.

"She's outstanding. All our management team clapped for her when she came into the canteen the other day. We're all behind her 100 per cent."

Admitting she used to do things "half-pie", Ms Harmer had recently revamped her attitude to do what she said was a thorough job - always. Boasting of her fondness for the job, she also said there was never a dull moment.

"There's always something new to learn, even on the dirty jobs. I probably get dirtier than anyone else.

"I love to get right into what needs to be done."

Working towards finishing her apprenticeship in 2017, Ms Harmer was setting her sights high and hoped to stay on with Ravensdown to gain experience.

"I'd really like to be an underwater welder someday."

The trophy was a memorial to Stuart Tolhurst, who was a highly regarded engineer.

The 2015 SKF National Maintenance Engineering Conference was held at the Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton at the end of November.

The two-day event was attended by more than 60 industry suppliers with exhibitions, informative sessions and a panel of guest speakers.