Thanks to Atama’s confidence, Mr Bradbury signed him on as a casual labourer and, six months later, as an apprentice.
Atama, 22, was rewarded for his hard work when in October, almost six years later, he took out third place in New Zealand’s Registered Master Builders 2010 Apprentice of the Year, in association with Carters.
It is clear, with the list of qualities Mr Bradbury describes, that Atama is a worthy recipient of the third place prize.
“We’re very proud of Atama. He has always been very focused, and he’s a good problem solver. You can give him a task and he will make sure he gets it right. He has a high level of workmanship, and a great personality too,” Mr Bradbury says.
Atama was amazed when his name was announced at the Apprentice of the Year National Awards evening in Wellington in October.
“It was just an awesome surprise, I really didn’t expect it,” he says.
The national judges said they enjoyed Atama’s relaxed, genuine nature, and agreed that he would be a natural when it came to dealing with clients.
He found the competition to be a worthwhile experience. “It was a bit challenging putting myself forward to be judged at my trade, but I learned a lot. It’s really good to know that the work we’re doing is up to a national level.”
“Taking part in Apprentice of the Year has given me a lot more confidence, both in myself and in my decision making.”
Since the competition, Atama has taken on more responsibility at Coastal Homes Ltd. He is now a site foreman, and is currently working on a high quality architectural waterfront home in Doubtless Bay.
“It’s 280 square metres and two-storey, with a really unique layout and interesting design.”
A love of woodwork at school, and support from his dad, himself a builder, was what encouraged Atama to make his career choice.
“I’ve always liked the idea of building and seeing a final product. It is so satisfying seeing a bare bit of land at the beginning, then at the end looking at a client’s new home,” he says.
“There is a great team of apprentices and tradesmen at Coastal Homes. They each share their knowledge and pass down their skills. They’re all willing to help, especially Glen who is always helpful and encouraging, and always wanting us to better our skills and ourselves.”
Atama is planning to take a business class this year, with the intention of learning more about the administrative side of the industry. He is also looking forward to Outward Bound, part of the competition prize pack.
“One day I’d like to own my own company, but for now I’m happy as a foreman,” he says.
The Apprentice of the Year competition was made possible by the Registered Master Builders Federation, principal sponsor Carters, the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation, and supporting sponsor the Department of Building and Housing.