Skills Squad journey to NZ!

Nerves and excitement filled the Air New Zealand Airbus A320 late Sunday afternoon as WorldSkills Australia’s Skills Squad jetted across the Tasman Sea to compete in the inaugural WorldSkills Oceania Competition.

“The team travelled really well, we are really very impressed with how they went, a couple of little hiccups along the way but that’s why we do these things this early so we have plenty of practice runs to getting ourselves on and off trains, planes and buses” said Rachel Sullivan, Skills Squad Team Leader.

Well-rested and ready to go, the Skills Squad kicked off their New Zealand journey this morning with Familiarisation at Wintec Waikato Institute of Technology – Rotokauri Campus, where they had the opportunity to meet their fellow competitors, test their equipment, read their marking scales and make notes to prepare them for the next four days of competition.

“Everyone seemed really happy so they all seemed to be pretty well prepared and pretty confident on how the next three days are going to go,” continued Rachel.

Following Familiarisation, the team braved the cool weather and headed to the official Welcome Dinner held at the Wintec City Campus where they witnessed a traditional Maori welcome called a Powhiri. The manuhiri (visitors) gathered, with women in front of the men, who watched as the “warrior” from the tangata whenua performed a Gathering and Karanga, or the calling on to the Marae.

Once the ‘challenge’ ended the warrior laid down a wooden carving and it was Mr David Hoey, CEO of WorldSkills, who was given the important task of picking up the carving to show that the manuhiri came in peace. As the manuhiri slowly and quietly walked onto the Marae, they were seated and the official speeches began.

“Just like anything within the WorldSkills movement, it’s not just about the competition it’s also about the relationships that are forged, that are renewed, the networks that are developed and the information that we share so we can become more skilled at a global level,” said Mark Callaghan, CEO of WorldSkills Australia in his address to the Governor-General of New Zealand and the rest of the international guests.

Over the next four days the Australian team will challenge their skills against top-performing medallists from around the globe including Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, India, Malaysia, China and Korea. This event is particularly important for the Skills Squad as it will be the deciding factor in determining who will be selected as a Skillaroo to represent Australia at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August.

Check out all the photo highlights from the Skills Squad’s first day in New Zealand!