A 22-year-old Kerikeri man has been named the country's top marine industry apprentice.
Cody Kelly, who was named the outstanding apprentice of 2020 at the New Zealand Marine and Composites Industry Training Organisation graduation function at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron base in Auckland, has worked for Bluefix Boatworks, in Opua, since he was 17.
Bluefix's Tim Hight and Wendy Croft jointly won the other major honour of the night, the trainer excellence award, for their "outstanding contribution to mentoring, supporting and developing trainees and apprentices in the New Zealand marine and composite industry".
Bluefix co-owner Charlotte Rowe said the award meant Kelly was officially the country's top apprentice across all marine trades, which was an "incredible achievement".
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The trainer excellence award was also a big deal, because they were up against more than 250 other trainers around the country.
Hight was an "extremely experienced" high-end boat builder who had been with the company for five years as a foreman and trainer, while Croft had been with Bluefix for two years as general manager.
The company, which has just finished building a $4.5 million, 22m fishing boat, currently has seven apprentices in boat-building and marine painting, and is looking for more because of an even bigger project due to start early in the New Year.