Apprentice joiner assembles awards on both sides of Tasman

Award-winning apprentice joiner Mohamed Valibhai (centre) at work with Damon Scott (left), of Stevenson and Williams, and 4Trades facilitator Bill Cubitt. Photo by Peter McIntosh Apprentice joiner Mohamed Valibhai really has gone the extra mile.

Originally from Tanzania, Mr Valibhai, who is in his early 20s, moved with his family to Lumsden 10 years ago.

He is now in his third year working for Dunedin firm Stevenson and Williams, through the Otago Chamber of Commerce's 4Trades Apprenticeship Scheme.

He is looking forward to a trip to Australia next month after winning the Australian Woodworking Industry Suppliers Association's John Tiddy Memorial Award.

The award was established in 2008 to commemorate the late John Tiddy's contribution to the Australasian furniture and woodworking industries, and his contribution to AWISA.

The award was for an apprentice in the woodworking industry from each state in Australia and one from New Zealand to receive a trip to the AWISA 2014 exhibition in Brisbane in August.

The awards will be presented at a special breakfast and the apprentices will also receive $A2000 ($NZ2150) towards their training course fees.

Both 4Trades facilitator Bill Cubitt and Stevenson and Williams joinery supervisor Andrew Duncan were delighted with Mr Valibhai's success.

Last month, Mr Valibhai won three awards in the Master Joiners apprentice awards in New Plymouth.

He won best timber project (4001-8000 hours), highest judged for workmanship and skill, and the people's choice (4001-8000 hours).

Mr Duncan received the Gordon Caulfield Memorial Trophy for being the employer of the apprentice who won the best 4001-8000 hours timber project.

Mr Valibhai moved to Lumsden when he was 12 and his parents run a dairy and cafe in the northern Southland town.

He studied at the University of Canterbury for a year before deciding he wanted to be a joiner.

He spent a year doing a pre-trade joinery course at the Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill before joining Stevenson and Williams, which needed an apprentice.

In his application for the John Tiddy Memorial Award, Mr Valibhai said he felt privileged to live in such a beautiful country.

He prided himself in manufacturing high-quality work and gained satisfaction from seeing the finished product.

Coming from a third-world country gave him focus and strength to work harder and make a better lifestyle for himself.

His dream was to eventually return to Tanzania and work as a joiner, and possibly one day open his own workshop.

Mr Cubitt said the young apprentice was very humble and he was ''just quietly getting on with it''.

The recognition was also great acknowledgement for Stevenson and Williams.

He was getting superb training, Mr Cubitt said.

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