Tavake Vaka, who is currently working towards his New Zealand Certificate in Plastics Engineering Level 4 with Competenz, recently took out the 2021 Trainee of the Year award at the annual Plastics Industry Association awards. It’s an accolade that came as a surprise to him, due to the fact he’s only been in the industry for a short time.


“I didn’t even know there was an award for Trainee of the Year until I got an email saying I’d been nominated, and didn’t think I had a chance of winning considering I have only been in the plastics industry for two years. Winning the award means a lot to me as I can see all my hard work has paid off.”

Tavake, who is employed by Marley New Zealand – an Auckland-based manufacturing business, already has a qualification in mechanical engineering and automotive refinishing but, after years of working in those industries, decided to try something new.

“My father has been in the industry for over 25 years and he encouraged me to join Marley. He’s been training me for the last two years and I wouldn’t have got as far as I have without his help and the support from my work colleagues. The learning journey has been tough considering I’ve only been in the industry for two years, but with my father’s help, I was able to apply what I learned on the floor to my paperwork, so the practical side of learning has really helped me.”

Competenz 5Competenz training manager Phil Jones says Tavake is a conscientious employee with a thirst to learn.

“He has a great work ethic and a real commitment to training and improving. Tavake is always open to a conversation exploring ideas and concepts. His assessment submissions are always very thorough – a lot of thought has gone into them.

“The training he is doing is an opportunity to secure a future for himself and his family,” says Phil.

For the time being, Tavake is “taking one step at a time” to make sure he finishes his Level 4 qualification. “While the sky’s the limit for me, I’m concentrating on my course work and hopefully I’ll be able to get approval to start my Level 5 qualification. Sometime down the line I’d like to make my way up to a management role or even further!

“I love my job and the opportunity I’ve been given to learn and train. The help, kindness and support from my Marley colleagues has made my job and my training easier. I’m planning to get as far as I can in this industry and definitely recommend apprenticeships – they make you a better technician and also a better person.”

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