Troy Calteaux named the winner of the 2021 CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition

Posted on: Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Troy Calteaux of Otago was named the winner of the 2021 Civil Contractors New Zealand CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition at an awards dinner on Saturday night, following two days of intense competition against 11 regional champion excavator operators.

The 2021 championship was Calteaux’s second title, following up on his 2018 national title. But it was a long road to the finals this time around – the head operator for Andrew Haulage 2011 Ltd had to win the Otago regional competition twice to make it to nationals, missing his title defence in 2019 to be there for the birth of his child and the 2020 national competition due to the global pandemic.

“It means a lot to me… I feel a bit like I was born for it. My dad brought me up on and around excavators. It’s always been a pretty big part of my life.

“It was really hard for me not being there to defend the title last time [in 2019], so to take it back is a big thing. I’ll be back to defend the title next year for sure.”

Organised by national association Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ), the competition saw regional champion excavator operators navigate a two-day long course featuring challenges ranging from crowd-pleasers such as pouring a cup of tea to on-the-job tasks such as precision trenching and first aid, testing their skills against one another using 13-tonne Hitachi ZX-130 and smaller ZX55-U excavators.

The competition did not go all Calteaux’s way, and he had competition hot on his heels throughout the event. Third-placed Ben Jones of Wellington was leading the field by a significant margin after the initial day of the competition thanks to his sound planning and execution on the day one challenges. But Calteaux’s class shone through. After a shaky start where he missed the Humes slam-dunk on the initial day, he pulled off a near-flawless performance on the second day.

Waikato Champion Mike Bowe of Bowe Brothers Excavating also leapfrogged Jones on the second day to be this year’s runner-up. Bowe had shown great commitment to compete and put on an amazing display of skill to mark the birth of his child Levi earlier in the week. Defending Champion Riki Lum of Clements Contractors in Northland was also in close contention, taking fourth place after a solid run across the event, while Bay of Plenty champion Craig Crowley took fifth place. 

Brendon Ferguson of Fulton Hogan Southland won the 2021 Z Energy One-day Job Challenge – an end-to-end event involving site planning and layout as well as precision skill, while Auckland regional Champion Tevita Tautua’a won the Humes Good Bastard Award, awarded for integrity and positivity during the competition and its challenges. All winners took home a significant prize pack.

CCNZ Chief Executive Peter Silcock congratulated Calteaux on his victory

“Troy is an exceptional operator and a worthy champion. He has proven himself time and again at the top level, and his skill, spirit and determination give him a real edge.”

Mr Silcock said this year’s event had featured an exceptional level of ability, and all of the competitors should be proud of their efforts on a difficult competition course.

He also congratulated the CCNZ Manawatu Branch for 27 years of delivering the competition, originally conceived by local Manawatu contractor Graeme Blackley of Blackley Construction, who was in attendance for the awards.

“A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to deliver a successful competition. The commitment of the team behind the competition at the Manawatu Branch has helped the competition to grow and evolve over time. It’s just getting better as time goes on.”

CablePrice was the Platinum Sponsor for this year’s competition, providing and servicing the Hitachi Zaxis excavators the competitors operated during the event.