Mum finds her niche un­der the bon­net


Kelly Ayres spent years in jobs she wasn’t pas­sion­ate about, but has now found her call­ing as an au­to­mo­tive me­chanic.

The mother of four from Wainuiomata pre­vi­ously worked as a cook, a barista and a bartender, which paid the bills but never made her happy.

Now an ap­pren­tice at Gavin Shute Auto in Wainuiomata, she says her de­ci­sion to take a pre­trade au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing course at Wel­tec last year has put her in her el­e­ment.

‘‘It’s hands-on. There’s plenty of prob­lem-solv­ing, which I re­ally like. It’s sat­is­fy­ing mak­ing things work and see­ing how they work.’’

She had al­ways en­joyed tin­ker­ing with cars but said it was only when her kids, now 16, 14, 13 and 7, got older that she was able to com­mit to a me­chan­ics course.

Gavin Shute owner Phil Wy­burn, who has taken Ayres on as an ap­pren­tice, said she im­me­di­ately im­pressed him when she came in for work ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘She stayed here for 11 hours, she only had to be here for eight. She asked a lot of ques­tions and was highly mo­ti­vated.’’

She proved her ap­ti­tude by help­ing him pull a gear­box out of a car, and cor­rectly handed him back all the parts in re­verse order as it was be­ing re­in­stalled.

Wy­burn said Ayres was an ideal ap­pren­tice and ‘‘ticked all the boxes’’.

Ayres has im­pressed more than just her boss, with the Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion hav­ing awarded her a schol­ar­ship as part of its 100-year cel­e­bra­tions.

An MTA spokes­woman said the schol­ar­ships were an in­cen­tive to ap­pren­tices and busi­ness own­ers alike.

There was a skills short­age across the trades and they wanted to en­cour­age more au­to­mo­tive em­ploy­ers to take on ap­pren­tices.

There were over 100 ap­pli­cants for the schol­ar­ships which were awarded af­ter an in­ter­view process.

Hers was one of 32 schol­ar­ships given to ap­pren­tice mo­tor­bike and gen­eral me­chan­ics, col­li­sion re­pair­ers and auto elec­tri­cians.

The schol­ar­ship cov­ered her study fees and sub­sidised Gavin Shute Auto in recog­ni­tion of the costs in­volved with her train­ing.

She was glad to have won the schol­ar­ship and said not hav­ing to worry about fees meant she could con­cen­trate on learn­ing as much as she could.


Kelly Ayres and Phil Wy­burn get their hands dirty un­der the bon­net of an SUV.

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