Battling on, despite disability
Here’s a look at what made headlines this week in Waikato community newspapers.
When he lost an eye four years ago, Norm Kete thought his career was over.
Devastated, Kete thought his seven years of experience working with cranes would go to waste.
‘‘To tell the truth, I had no experience in anything else,’’ the Taupo resident.
‘‘All my years, it was only cranes. Anyway, who would want to hire a blind guy?’’
The incident that claimed Kete’s eye in 2013 didn’t happen at work. It happened on a night out in Taupo.
‘‘My wife and I were assaulted while trying to catch a taxi home from town,’’ he said.
‘‘Overnight, my crane operating career was gone.’’
During his rehabilitation, ACC put forward a number of low-skilled jobs for Kete to consider, such as a supermarket cashier.
‘‘I was on ACC for a year-anda-half, but I realised I needed more upskilling to work around people,’’ Kete said.
‘‘Literacy Taupo helped improve my computer skills and my presentation skills.’’
Kete soon gained an Occupational Health and Safety National Certificate.
His CV ended up on Ayla
Hutton’s desk, the operations manager at Safety ’n Action.
‘‘From the first look, we recognised that Norman had incredible potential, a point of difference and so much to offer Safety ’n Action and our customers,’’ Hutton said.
‘‘But, that was only the start – Trying to convince Norman that we needed him and his skills [was difficult] – he rang back several times just to make sure it wasn’t a joke,’’ Hutton said.
Kete now travels across the country, training people to load cranes safely and to operate them.
In 2016, Kete put 160 students through training courses.
Kete said his effort doesn’t stop after training.
‘‘My students leave my training sessions, knowing they can contact me at any time for any further information they need to know,’’ he said.
In recognition for this dedication, Kete was named the Skills PTE Crane Trainer of the Year at the Crane Association’s conference in Rotorua recently.
Being safe always comes first, Kete said.
‘‘The crane operator’s main job is to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the day,’’ he said.
Tayla takes bull by horns
A rare opportunity to compete in the Royal Melbourne Show Beef Cattle competition could not be passed up by young Tayla Hansen.
The 13-year old Taupiri resident was invited to lead Freshwater Creek Annie, a supplied speckle park heifer which is the feature breed of the event.
She almost had to turn it down due to the associated costs of getting to the September show.
But mum Brenda Hansen said with Tayla recently being diagnosed with sclerosis, they decided to fundraise the estimated $4000 for the pair to go.
‘‘We just thought, stuff it . . . do it because it might never happen again,’’ Brenda said.
The disorder affects Tayla’s spine, causing pain in her arms and back, making her more worn down than usual.
She wears a brace at night-time and will soon work her way up to wearing it 20 hours straight.
Eventually Tayla will likely have surgery with a recovery period of up to a year.
Brenda said it was difficult hearing the news of her daughter’s diagnosis, but she admired Tayla’s positivity.
‘‘She’s taken it a lot better [than I have], Tayla just took on the attitude that it’ll be all right . . . she just doesn’t complain, she just gets on with it.’’
What keeps Tayla going is her love for competing which she’s done since the age of 5.
‘‘I have just had a passion for them [cattle], I’m not going to stop because of a brace.’’
It’ll be her first overseas event and will certainly be a challenge as she will meet the heifer for the first time upon arrival.
‘‘I think hopefully it will give me a whole lot more experience of working with cattle I don’t know and learning about their quirks.’’
Competing in the senior category this year, it will be a different ‘‘ball game’’ and at the Melbourne show, there will be a much bigger audience than she’s used to.
She admits it’s nerve-racking, but is confident in her abilities to perform just as well.
‘‘Tayla’s got quite a natural way with animals, and as long as she goes in with the same respect, she will be fine,’’ Brenda said.
With countless ribbons stacked up from years of competition, she has also been named the Northern Junior District Handler of the Year for the second year running.
To win the title, she had to accumulate the most points through last season’s events.
North Waikato News
Waipa builds approved
New resource consents totalling
$21.5 million have been processed in an attempt to help construction of new homes in the Waipa district.
The Waipa District Council has been busy reviewing and issuing consents in response to the 125 applications for new builds, alterations and other domestic work.
The recent announcement of the Government’s $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is expected to put pressure on an already stretched trade force in the Waikato as it grapples with building new homes.
But fears of falling land prices and increased building costs due to lack of tradespeople were dismissed by the Property Council Waikato spokesman Brian Squair.
‘‘Depending on the size of the company, group housing builders are delivering anywhere from 25 to 100 houses per year each.
‘‘Right now, many of them are at capacity working across the region,’’ he said.
‘‘Auckland and Tauranga companies are working in Hamilton, with Hamilton companies working in Cambridge and Tauranga.’’
Squair said it has been the cost of land that has impacted prices more than the labour and materials cost.
‘‘The key variable is timing and, while the principle of supply and demand is alive and well and will have influence, the timing of ‘developer-ready’ land availability may govern the dynamics here.’’
Council has recently fast tracked the release of some housing land to cope with expected growth in Cambridge and Te Awamutu.
Having three developments in close proximity shouldn’t pose a problem for Cambridge.
He said Cambridge and Te Awamutu were unique towns, almost destination towns, where people choose to live because of their unique characters.
‘‘Waipa, and specifically Cambridge, has some capacity in that many developers have earmarked development sites already.
‘‘It could be between two and three years before housing on the newly ‘enabled’ land in Hamilton is commenced.
‘‘Cambridge may have the jump on Hamilton for building resources,’’ he said, ‘‘due to the timing and readiness.’’
Taupiri 13-yearold Tayla Hansen has taken up an invitation to compete at the Royal Melbourne Show in September.
After years working with cranes, Norm Kete, right, now travels across the country for Safety ’n Action, training people how to load and operate them safely. In 2016, Kete put 160 students through training courses. He was recently named the Skills PTE Crane Trainer of the Year.