Snow cadets ready to take on sea­son

Taupo Times - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - STEPH RANGI

Mount Ruapehu’s slopes will open to snow bun­nies this week­end the first ski field in the coun­try to do so this win­ter.

Wai­tangi Patena and Caslo Winikerei are gear­ing up for their first ever sea­son work­ing on the moun­tain.

And given they live just up the road in Tu­rangi, the pair said they were re­ally ex­cited to see the re­ac­tion vis­i­tors have to the moun­tain, es­pe­cially those who’d never seen snow be­fore.

‘‘I’m re­ally ex­cited to see the moun­tain sur­rounded with snow and peo­ple,’’ Patena said.

‘‘To see the en­joy­ment on peo­ple’s faces when they see snow - be­ing able to be apart of that is just truly an hon­our, Winikerei added.

The pair are do­ing a cadet­ship with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) of which there were 200 ap­pli­cants.

They started a cou­ple of weeks ago and have learnt the ins and outs of how the moun­tain is run.

Once the moun­tain is open, they - along with the 19 other cadets - will spend the first six weeks mov­ing around all the dif­fer­ent de­part­ments to get a feel for how they all work.

Patena’s goal is to reach hu­man re­sources while Winikerei will be head­ing to the OPS depart­ment where he will be work­ing on the roads and with the chair­lifts.

Patena, who is the old­est of the cadets at 26-years-old, said the group she was work­ing with had made the tran­si­tion onto moun­tain life an easy one. ‘‘Our crew is awe­some. They are so open to ideas and sug­ges­tions and just want­ing to give things a go,’’ she said.

Winikerei praised the crew, and his new role with RAL, with bring­ing him out of his shell.

‘‘I used to be re­ally quiet but work­ing for RAL has me open­ing up,’’ he said.

‘‘It takes you out of your com­fort zone.’’

While the cadets have been busy pre­par­ing for the start of the sea­son, so too, has the ski field’s lat­est in­vest­ment.

The snow fac­tory has been been run­ning non-stop since it’s in­stal­la­tion on April 14, mak­ing sure Happy Val­ley is full with the white pow­der.

Happy Val­ley has un­der­gone a ma­jor trans­for­ma­tion - in­clud­ing new car­pet lifts and a fully re­hashed bistro - and will be ready to show off most of the changes on June 3.

TOM LEE/FAIR­FAX NZ

Caslo Winikerei and Wai­tangi Patena are gear­ing up to wel­come the first vis­i­tors for the sea­son to Moutn Ruapehu this Satur­day.

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