Kere Elliot from Elliot Logging has taken out the top award at this year's Hawke's Bay Forestry Awards and has become the third woman across the regions to pick up the Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year 2019 title.
Heather Arnold of Nelson Forests took out the top award in the Top of the South Forestry Awards and Michelle Harrison of Wise on Wood took out the top award in the Northland Forestry Awards earlier this year.
Elliot has been involved in Pan Pac harvesting operations for many years and within the industry is a well-respected and trusted tree felling and auditing specialist, and also took out the Women in Forestry Excellence Certificate.
She has worked her way through all aspects of harvesting operations firstly as a worker and employee, to running a harvesting contracting crew with her husband Grant, as well as providing auditing and training services to the wide contract workforce.
"The tree felling auditing and training that Kere carries out is a key component of ensuring that all our tree fellers are working at the safest and highest possible level in one of the most hazardous tasks to be completed," Forests at Pan Pac general manager Tim Sandall said.
It had been her vast experience, vigilance, care and natural ability to relate to people on the ground that enabled her to be so effective in that area.
She was described by the judges as a humble recipient with a strong backbone, and had a "superb" talent in communicating with all those around her.
"Showing commitment to the industry and to the development of her colleagues, she has likely saved lives under her direction and unwavering resolve to improve standards so that the job is completed safely."
Winners representing a broad selection of forestry companies took the stage, to a sell-out crowd at the Napier Conference Centre, in celebration of the inaugural forestry awards which were managed by master of ceremony and TV celebrity, Pio Terei.
The audience was made up of foresters, regional service providers, sponsors and community VIPs, who saw the event as an opportunity to lift the profile of the industry and the people who work in it.
James Powrie from Redaxe Forestry Intelligence, representing the judges, was very complimentary about all nominees and winners and as a judge in this first award campaign was impressed with the calibre across all the 15 categories making it difficult in some to assign a clear winner.
That was backed up by Hawke's Bay Forestry Group chief executive officer Keith Dolman.
"Our decision to implement these awards was on the back of the other regional campaigns being such a positive success for the regions and their people," he said.
"Hawke's Bay is an area for growth in this sector and it's important that we celebrate our own successes."
The awards will be reviewed with the concept to run them as an annual event going forward — with the objectives to benefit the region's forest industry by attracting skilled employees to the region as valued forestry industry players, to upskill and lift the standard of the skill base of the forestry workforce and to provide an opportunity for the forestry industry to celebrate its skilled professionals.