The spotlight shone on Nelson and Marlborough’s forestry industry at the inaugural Top of the South Forestry Awards on Friday.
More than 500 people packed into the Trafalgar Centre for the awards dinner hosted by comedian Paul Ego.
Organisers say it was a chance to celebrate an industry that is “so key” to the region, and an opportunity to acknowledge local industry heroes.
The awards attracted 80 nominations across 15 categories, with the ultimate trophy – Skilled Professional of the Year, being awarded to Heather Arnold from Nelson Forests Ltd.
Heather qualified for the top trophy by winning another top spot for the evening – the Woman in Forestry Excellence Award.
Heather was described by the judges as a true “expert in their field” who had made a difference both regionally and nationally.
They said Heather also stood out for her very high standard of work, how she engages with staff and contractors, and for the leadership she provides within the industry.
The Tasman region’s Reed Contracting claimed the FICA Crew of the Year Award with judges saying they had made a “very heavy investment in mechanisation – nearly 100 per cent”.
Reed Contracting crew member Ryan Fisher also took away the Tree Faller Excellence (mechanised) Award.
Judges said he stood out by consistently “producing a better than standard result” and had increased productivity with the way he operates.
Reed Contracting co-owner Brian Reed, whose son Scott runs the crew, says he is proud of the crew.
“We’ve got a good team culture and no one’s bigger than the whole crew, they’re part of a team.”
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese addressed the crowd, thanking them for being such an important part of the region’s industry and economy.
She also acknowledged the important part the industry played during the Pigeon Valley Fire earlier in the year.
“You were told to stand down from your paid jobs, you then turned around and stepped up and played a vital role in combating the fires.
For Full results see the Nelson App.