Rural Contractors New Zealand is pleased to announce the launch of its new reward and recognition programme for trainee contractors, proudly sponsored by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The new programme recognises trainee contactors who excel in the HanzonJobs mentoring initiative which aims to support trainees in becoming skilled agricultural machinery operators, while building a detailed record of their training and work experience.

The reward and recognition programme includes two awards to recognise two trainee contractors – one from the North Island and one from the South Island.

The award winners will each receive a trophy and a study bursary to the value of $3,000 sponsored by MPI. (See judges names below)

Andrew Olsen, CEO of RCNZ, is excited about the new reward and recognition programme and associated awards.“This new programme aims to make a difference for our trainee contractors,” he says.“Working with HanzonJobs, the programme gives us the opportunity to showcase the upcoming talent in the sector and really hits home the value of incorporating training into businesses.”

Richard Houston, founder of HanzonJobs, says his team is encouraged by the effort put into the mentoring initiative by trainees across the country. “Trainees have signed up for the mentoring and we’re stoked with the effort and dedication they’ve put into this season and how supportive their employers have been.”

Beth Davie, MPI’s Workforce Manager, says MPI is proud to back the rewards and recognition programme. “Helping the food and fibre sector to attract and retain workers is a key goal in our Fit for a Better World roadmap and Opportunity Grows Here campaign,” she says.“The new reward and recognition programme is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate trainee contractors who excel in their work. They’ll play a vital role in attracting and mentoring future trainees.”

Judges for the programme awards appointed by Rural Contractors NZ

 Peter Ettema is Director for MPI’s Regional Economic Development group and a highly regarded Ahuwhenua Trophy judge for Maori farming excellence.

 Kyle Baxter is the Professional Lead Tractors and Machinery for Norwood as well as the current President of TAMA (Tractors and Machinery Association).

 Emily Hawker is Human Resources & Health and Safety Manager at Waipounamu Contracting Ltd in Southland.

A shortlist of trainee rural contractors will be announced shortly.


Conditions of entry.

A shortlist of eight trainee contractors (four from the North Island and four from the South Island) will be determined from data from HanzonJobs, along with mid and end-of-year reports provided by contractors for their trainees. These reports must return the equivalent of an “excellent” score in work tasks.

Each shortlisted trainee will meet (via Zoom) the panel of judges for 20 minutes to answer three questions provided in advance.

The panel will decide a winner from each of the North and South Islands from those interviews.


All trainee contractors enrolled in the HanzonJobs programme who have had their employer/mentor complete their mid and end-of-year reviews will be eligible.

No trainee contractors working in the sector outside the programme will be eligible.


The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Judging dates and winners announced date to be advised.

Winner’s bursary. Winners must apply to RCNZ’s CEO with a short letter outlining the intended use of funds for training within the primary sector. The bursary is not transferrable. The bursary may be used in conjunction with the winner’s own funds.

All enquiries to Andrew Olsen, RCNZ Chief Executive on 027 255 2549 in the first instance.