Northland's Michelle Harrison Forestry Awards trainee of the year

Michelle Harrison, Trainee of the Year at this year's Northland Forestry Awards.
Michelle Harrison, Trainee of the Year at this year's Northland Forestry Awards.

Michelle Harrison takes health and safety in the forestry industry very seriously.

The 35-year-old, who won Trainee of the Year at this year's Northland Forestry Awards, also looks out for kiwi during log harvesting.

She lives in rural Okaihau with her family. She has always worked with her husband, Nigel, in forestry, and two years ago the couple started their own logging crew, Wise on Wood Ltd.

Husband Nigel said it's a balancing act for Michelle.

"Since joining the business Michelle has found time to concentrate on her own personal development and qualifications," he said.

"That's no mean feat considering she works fulltime, looks after me and the boys, does the bookwork, runs the health and safety programme and still helps out in the community.

"Michelle is our rock when it comes to health and safety. She spends endless hours at night researching and keeping up with others discoveries and misfortunes in the industry.
This is a real asset in our crew," he said.

Michelle said being a female in the forestry industry was not always easy and to receive the Trainee of the Year award was recognition for the hard work she had put in over the years.

Her training is ongoing and she recently completed her Level 3 National certificate in business. In 2016, she was appointed a contract assessor for the industry training organisation for forestry, Competenz.

"There were a shortage of assessors who assess theory-based units in Northland," said her husband. "Michelle has the skills to read and interpret questions, rephrasing them so a logger can understand them. She has a true commitment to training and to improving our industry."

Recently Michelle has been working with DOC in the block it is currently logging, learning to locate kiwi with transmitters and moving them throughout the block as required to keep them out of harm's way while harvesting.

"The job is very challenging but also rewarding. In the 20ha block there were eight kiwi with transmitters, and we have managed to keep them all safe, plus discovered and caught three more," she said.

Nigel said: "All this plus cutting all the wood our crew gets to the skid each day. It shows Michelle's commitment to both production and environmental values."

This is the second year the Northland Forestry Awards have been held.

Organisers are pleased with the increased number of entries and support they received from the wider industry and sponsors.

"These awards are showing in this second year, how important they are for the industry in Northland because it is a chance to role model the professionals we have and continue the development of our safety culture within the region," said Andrew Widdowson, chair of the awards organising committee and spokesman for the Northland Wood Council.

"The Northland Forestry Awards provide us with an occasion to celebrate the industry and the positive impact it has for the region, the fantastic people we have working on the ground and the opportunities if offers."

- Northern Advocate

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