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NorthTec | Te Pūkenga – Student Profile

Name: Emile De Greeuw
Course: Certificate in Fencing (Level 4)

“I cross-credited my prior training and industry experience to be recognised for the Certificate in Fencing (Level 3). Then I applied for the Level 4 course,” explains Emile De Greeuw.

Emile is undertaking the Certificate in Fencing (Level 4) through NorthTec | Te Pukenga, which is run nationwide.

“I enrolled because I wanted recognised qualifications, and fencing is an industry that is lacking a bit of recognition in that regard. Qualifications are somewhat of a new thing in the industry.”

Emile runs his own fencing business and often has people working under him whom he helps develop in the fencing industry.

“There’s a lot you need to be aware of when it comes to working with clients and companies. Things like liability insurance, progress reports, cultural reports, there’s a lot that comes into it. The course teaches you best practices and industry standards. It focuses less on the fencing skills and more on running your business, bettering your brand as a professional, which is key.

“I would recommend the course to established crews or people that are in their second or third year of business. There’s a range of reasonably experienced modules that you need to cover so it’s more achievable and relatable for those who have been in it for a bit.

“The qualification is all online which suits me as it doesn’t affect my day-to-day running of the business. I can get online at 7 o’clock which suits me and my family as the kids are normally in bed around that time.”

“There’s a lot of support from the tutor and the other students so it’s been easy enough to manage and it’s well worth it.”

Article supplied by North Tec | Te Pūkenga

Published in the Training & Events Section in WIRED Issue 72 / March 2024 by Fencing Contractors Association NZ

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Safety, strength and durability for school fences

“Shall we tender for this GETS job for a school fence, Shaun?” asked our project manager, Jimmy.

Shaun, owner/operator of Davies Fencing and Construction, and my husband, doesn’t usually work on schools. He started out doing rural jobs in Whakatane fourteen years ago, and loved yarning to farmers and building relationships. Then he moved our family to Tauranga, grew the business to eleven guys, two office managers; Jimmy and Rochelle, bought a lifestyle property and an acre or so of land became storage for materials, machinery and a huge eye-sore of a burn pile (which I had earmarked for sunflowers, but ho-hum).

Shaun still loves rural fencing, but he quickly worked out that it’s a good idea not to put all his eggs in one basket, so he branched out into residential (high-end) fencing and civil works (engineered retaining walls, lakes, boardwalks, stairs on bush tracks, bollards, decks, concrete works, skateparks, dog parks).

Shaun, being a Yes Man, replied, “Yep,” to Jimmy, then asked for all the details.

“It’s for Bellevue Primary School in Tauranga. They have a handful of kids who keep escaping, and they need a ‘better’ fence to keep them in.” “A handful of kids?” questioned Shaun, “A $120k job for a handful of kids? I hope we get to meet the lucky ducks. Tell me the specs?” “Ok,” said Jimmy, “It’s 260 metres and will also need about eight gates.” “Great!” said Shaun, “I’ll give Ellie at Edgesmith a call, she’s awesome to deal with. When does it have to be done?” “The two-week school holiday in October.” “Sweet, we can fit that in.”

Jimmy and Rochelle worked on the tender together and submitted it. They chose a 1.5m high balustrade style panel fencing because of its strength and durability. They knew it was going to get a punishing from balls and the like at a primary school. They must’ve done a superb job of the tender because we got it.

On the first Saturday of the school holidays, we had another contractor come in and install about 100 metres of security fencing on a portion of the school perimeter so that on the Monday, the guys could start.

They began by stripping out the old fence. One guy on the digger, two guys doing the hard yards. It was a mishmash of wire, bits of tin, some palings, all bordering house properties. There was overgrown grass and shrubbery mixed in amongst it.
The following day, another three guys joined them. They followed behind the first crew and installed the new fence. When they had done about 100 metres, they moved the security fence along. The whole job itself was pretty simple to install, even when the new fence had to be built on a section of retaining wall due to the height/fall restrictions.

The challenges arose when it came to the gates. The school had a rough idea of where the gates were to be installed, but they hadn’t confirmed. The issue was to do with emergency services access. The main access at the front of the school couldn’t reach the back classrooms, and they wanted another access down the back of the school but it hadn’t been built yet. The gates had to be custom-made to fit, so they couldn’t be ordered until decisions were made on the access, and the new fence was up.

A few weeks later, once we had the gates in our hot little hands, two guys returned to the school to install them. They were tricky to hang due to the undulating ground, but our guys did an epic job. This time, school was open, and they had numerous inquisitive kids come and ask a million questions. The guys wondered if any of them were the kids that the fence was built for, but they never did find out.

“ Shaun still loves rural fencing, but he quickly worked out that it’s a good idea not to put all his eggs in one basket, so he branched out into residential (high-end) fencing and civil works

Article written by Angelena Davies

Published in the Pools & Schools Feature in WIRED Issue 72 / MARCH 2024  by Fencing Contractors Association NZ

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School fencing requires creative thinking

In March 2023, Agri-Fencing Taranaki was asked to look at a boundary fence for the Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Pi’ipi’inga Kakano Mai I Rangiatea in New Plymouth. After meeting with the property portfolio manager on the school board, we had a look at the boundary section of the fence.

The design brief was a bit different from our usual projects, that’s for sure! It had to be 1.8m high for the first section of the fence line, then the height could be dropped down to 1.5m. The height had to deter kids from ages 3 up to 12 from climbing or pushing through. It also had to stop tennis balls and such from running down the hill into the neighbouring property. There was an existing chain-link fence along the playing field, which we initially thought could be continued, but we agreed it would give the fence line a bit of an industrial look, so we went for something with cleaner lines. This was certainly a bit different from our usual requests around stock management!

After exploring some options on a few fence designs, we came up with the idea of using equine netting at 1.5m height and using plain 2.5mm HT wire at 100mm spacings to achieve the requested 1.8m height for the first part of the fence line.

Our fence proposal was accepted by the board, then it was a matter of scheduling the work over the school holidays, which at that point were just over a week away… challenge accepted! We scheduled a utilities detection service to make sure the fence line was clear of any underground services, then commenced with some ground prep and building of a small retaining wall to level the fence line and prevent dips. Another challenge included an undulating pump track which made for some interesting tractor balancing.

The result with the use of equine netting and plain wires provided a very tidy, robust fence, safe enough to keep the kids in. This was an enjoyable job and something different, with a good sense of achievement being able to contribute to keeping our tamariki safe at school.

Article written by Jeff Rawson

Published in the Pools & Schools Feature in WIRED Issue 72 / MARCH 2024  by Fencing Contractors Association NZ

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Building unclimbable fences

While kids’ safety is the end game for school and pool fencing, there’s a lot more to it than whipping up an impenetrable barrier.

In the last year, Mike Renner from Renner Fencing has put in fencing for three schools and two pools around Marlborough’s Awatere Valley. The jobs have taken technical attention, relationship nous and a good grasp of contemporary design.

Pools are never easy

“Pools are never easy,” says Mike. “It pays to do your research ahead of time. Getting in and knowing the rules helps a lot when quoting. Rules and regulations can differ across council areas, and a client might want a certain thing but that might not meet the criteria.”

Fencing contractors can usually find rules and regulations for pool fencing online on the local council’s website. Pool covers are a case in point. Popular in recent years for keeping debris out and keeping warmth in, covers are often also used for stopping children from falling in unsupervised. Now, in Marlborough, they are no longer approved under the local council regulations and fences must go up around the pool.

Mike says many residential pools are close to the house, which has implications for doorways. “Doors must lock: sliding doors cannot open more than one metre. There might be trees, shrubs and other bits and pieces around for shade. If any kid can climb up and over, then that tree has to come out. Fence height needs to be 1.2m, at a minimum, and either solid or vertical slats no more than 100mm apart with horizontals 900mm so kids have nowhere to put their little feet to climb.”

The visual appeal of pool fencing has a large bearing on what clients end up running with. Clients look to Mike for ideas around what will look good and allow them to make the most of their scenic views. He usually follows the process of finding out what the client wants first, has a frank discussion on what won’t work, then offers ideas.

“Some clients have done their research in the beginning,” he says. “A select few come armed with a clear idea of what they want, but most will want your input first. A handful of brochures with pool fencing designs is very useful. You can add your touch, and the client can add theirs.”

“Some more expensive fence materials, like glass, are popular first choices, but it can come down to budget. Then, there’s weather patterns — where the sun comes up, where the prevailing winds are. These impact what you put in. There’s all that to tack on too.”

Schools – there’s a lot to discuss 

In comparison to pool fencing, design input for a school fence is minimal. Unsurprisingly, fence design parameters are laid out as part of the Ministry of Education tender process. Most school fences are 1.8m high. Mike says this is the standard for a school which may have a child who the Ministry considers a “runner”. School fences have the same principles as the pool fences – they should not be climbable, to keep children in and safe when unsupervised.

“Getting on with the Ministry of Education project manager as well as the principal is the key to managing school fence jobs,” says Mike. “There is a lot to discuss, then we devise a plan that is best for everyone. Spotting risks, raising them, keeping open communication, providing alternatives keeps school projects on track, and we do everything there is to help them achieve what is to be achieved.”

“With schools, when putting fences on boundaries, you need to deal with neighbouring residential properties, roads and reserves, and footpaths. It can open a can of worms. Getting the boundary surveyed before you start is ideal, if the Ministry doesn’t have a current survey in their tender already,
it is the way to go.”

Once Mike knows where the boundary sits, it’s a case of working out whether the new fence can run along or whether it might need to deviate from the legal boundary  – and following through with subsequent discussions with various people and organisations impacted.

“For one job we are doing, the boundary is out on the footpath. Obviously, the council wasn’t too keen to rebuild the path.”
Trees are an issue too. Some are valued for their shade. Schools might want to keep them, so Mike looks at moving the boundary fencing around them.

Mike’s local school, Seddon School, was the first combined school-and-pool fence job. The land was raised up along the boundary line, so the fence moved inside the boundary to reduce the work for the caretaker to maintain this uneven ground. First, the decision to vary the boundary fence was made by the principal, then passed by the Ministry.

School fence designs in Marlborough fall into two categories depending on the shared boundaries. All residential properties are solid fences; the rest, like main entrance road reserves and council boundaries, are see-through panel fencing. Mike uses standard paling, iron and Smartwall for the solid fences and powder-coated steel or aluminium panels. Almost all posts are augered and concreted in.

“Another vital task is to find out about services. Most schools are land mines! There is a lot going on under the surface. Contact your local power supplier for locations and Before You Dig for phone and fibre. Councils can help with water and wastewater pipes, but, often, the best information is from local knowledge like the caretaker.”

“The right tools and machinery to do the job are up there in my mind. We use hand augers or, even better, a small digger to auger the holes. String lines, levels, and good battery tools are key. A dumpy level to get the fence heights correct and level is useful.”

“It is always easy if you are working with flat and level ground, but in most cases, you will have to deal with sloping ground. Solid fences can be run with the ground on a sloping level, but you can’t do that with panel fencing. Either you need to use racking panels on steep slopes or stage the fence by lowering or raising each bay or every second, for example, in the same amount.”

Mike enjoys going the extra mile with school fence work. “At Seddon, my local school, I wanted to do whatever I could for the school because they have helped me along the way. We had pulled down the old fence, so I had a skip for us. While we were there, we chucked in another skip, for nothing, for the school to do a tidy up. Little things like that, going that little bit further, helps them out along the way.”

Article written by Megan Fowlie

Published in the Pools & Schools Feature in WIRED Issue 72 / MARCH 2024  by Fencing Contractors Association NZ

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The FCANZ great 4WD adventure

Away they go

Fencing Contractors seem to have an affinity with 4WD utes. It’s a well-known fact that a ute is commonly the top-ranked item to be factored into one’s asset business startup.

Indeed, throughout a fencing contractor’s business lifespan, a 4WD ute continues to receive top billing. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a pimped out (accessory wise) latest model, or a cherished dependable 1997 model with a few seasoned dings. At least one of our members has owned a Toyota Hilux from new, that went round the clock and ticked over again from zero.

Fencing Contractors often work in amazing locations, and their access to many enviable properties means they could also double as tourist guides with off-road adventures.

Given this combination and having been dragged along with the whole 4WD scene throughout my married life, an opportune conversation with Scott and Anna Heasley, down at the Dunedin Conference in 2022, meant organising a 4WD trip for our members through some of Scott’s client’s properties – most notably the iconic MacDonald Downs – was a no brainer.

Having been in the Lees Valley, I asked about linking this up and ending the trip in Oxford, and Scott saw to that as well. We had options of starting in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough or perhaps coming down through the Rainbow from Nelson, but it was decided for us when Mike Renner, Renner Fencing, jumped on board, organising a start location from his yard at the start of the Awatere Valley.

Thus were the origins of the FCANZ great 4WD adventure in November 2023; meeting up at Mike and Olivia Renner’s, with a quick look through one of Renner’s yards, up through the Awatere Valley, overnight in Hamner, the next morning down through into MacDonalds Station, out through the Lees valley into Oxford, with dinner at Rangiora. That’s a quick summary, though this misses a number of key elements.

With 17 vehicles attending, the attendees came from as far south as Balclutha and Invercargill, and as far North as Auckland, with Masterton (Tim McKay) and Galatea (Scott Graham) also represented. Along with the usuals, it was nice to see some faces of members who we hadn’t seen before, which was one of the interesting aspects. We also had two partners attending – Brendon Crequer from Waratah and Ivan Beattie from Beattie Insulators. Following a group photo, the group was tasked with getting to know each other and were told that there would be a name quiz at the end of the trip, which I was determined to win, but I think Georgia Douglass might have taken out those honours.

We drove in convoy up the Awatere Valley Road with Mike and Terry Renner in the lead and John and Carol Noakes as tail-end Charlies. When you’re driving through an area as scenic as the Molesworth, there’s often a question as to the history of the area and what goes on in terms of farming, etc. That’s one of the reasons this trip was so interesting, stopping off and having morning tea in the Upcot Station shearing quarters (thank you Friends of Seddon School, who supplied morning tea and lunch), then looking through the shearing shed (Upcot supplies merino wool to Icebreaker). Next, we walked across over to the old saleyards for the district, which Terry Renner helped to build in 1986 and used to hold 7,600 sheep. They ceased using the yards when foot and mouth entered the area.

Upcot Station’s Bill Stevenson met us further up the road, the third generation of stewardship of the Station, with one of Bill’s daughters, Louise, taking on the running of it. Bill’s talk was an interesting insight into the station’s running, stock numbers and breeding, and the challenges and success of the calicivirus in controlling rabbits in that area. Upcot has a horse breeding program with some very nice horses leaning over the fence begging for a new home (some were for sale).

On the Upcot saddle (1,200 metres above sea level), we stopped to look at the views, and naturally running along the saddle was a Waratah brand fence, complete with Jio Star posts and wire. Brendon gave a talk about Waratah’s performance in high country such as this. Ivan Beattie also talked about his insulator products, again with their suitability for high country fencing.

At Molesworth Station, we stopped for lunch at the Cobb Cottage, which was precluded by an interesting talk from Jim Ward, who manages Molesworth as a productive 182,000 hectare farming and recreational unit. Molesworth is 60 kilometres in length and about the same in width. Jim talked about a concentrated effort towards lessening stock numbers, changing farming practices and improving economic returns in doing so, while balancing farming with recreational usage and sustainability. Horses are still widely used on Molesworth, and as we drove along, we saw numerous loading banks where the horses were trucked along to mustering points for offloading. Three of the shepherds were involved in the talks, and it was interesting to hear how they coped with the isolation. The future of Jim’s farm lease is in jeopardy given DOC’s purchase of the land from Landcorp, with a review being undertaken as to the future of managing the land, which, from listening to Jim’s knowledge and passion for putting the land first, was incomprehensible.

After a quick drive around the Molesworth infrastructure, we were on our way towards Hamner, with the amazing scenery becoming tarnished with wilding pines. There was evidence of some attempts to control them, but it’s a huge problem.

FCANZ Administration Manager Jeanette Miller had organised the motel and a buffet dinner. Some beers amongst a tailgate meeting, aka standing at the back of the ute in the motel car park with a beer in your hand, helped dull the pain of overly expensive drinks at the bar, but the accommodation was very nice, and dinner was tasty. We woke up to a moister day with fresh snow on the mountain tops and predicted rain, which was a shame as Scott and Anna, our Day 2 leaders, had a good offroad route organised once we got into MacDonald Downs (11,333 hectares).

On the way in, we stopped at Waikari Kitchen in Waikari to pick up a prepackaged morning tea and lunch (recommendation – stop there, never drive past if open), and then we pulled up at the beautiful MacDonald Downs homestead and gardens for a hugely entertaining talk by Bill Paterson, and a look over the Station’s maps and historical photos.

Moving along, we started towards an excursion up over saddle, but unfortunately, the wet combined with long grass wasn’t feasible for several of the vehicles, along with not wanting to leave damage, so we turned around and made towards a picturesque batch of bush alongside a river for a combined morning tea/lunch. A light drizzle came across, but it was hardly noticed as we all grouped together and talked about all sorts.

Scott had gone beyond the call of duty, or should that be the call of nature, by installing a long drop for the ladies. Given that we were miles from anywhere, this was a feat involving a digger, a 44-gallon drum, an outhouse, a dunny seat, and a No 8 wire solution for a toilet roll holder. Apparently Scott realised, as the outhouse was being lowered into position, that it was latched from the inside. One can only imagine the robust debate that followed, as to whether to climb up through the dunny hole and who was going to do that, to be able to unlatch the door.

Onward and upward, then descending, we drove, entering the Lees Valley, stopping at Wharfdale Station. Along the way, we saw a good deer fencing job, which member George Williams had been a contractor on. On hitting the main road at Oxford, a few headed off, but the majority of us had dinner at the Plough Hotel in Rangiora, with thankfully cheaper drinks.
The trip was well organised by Mike and Terry Renner, Scott and Anna Heasley and Jeanette. John and Carol Noakes did a lot of gate opening and closing, helped out by Tony White.

Two things stood out on this trip. One: what a nice bunch of people were on the trip and how well everyone mingled. Two: the calibre of Bill Stevenson, Jim Ward, Bill Paterson and their families, past and present. If High Country farming is in the hands of these types of people who are proud of their heritage and contributions, their commitment to sustainability and improvement, then high country farming in New Zealand remains a strength in the future of farming.

Such was the enjoyment of the trip that an across-Station off roader on/near the Wairarapa coastline is in the early stages of planning. The timing will be confirmed after the landowners and route have been established.

Article written by Debbie White

Published in the FCANZ News in WIRED Issue 72 / March 2024 by Fencing Contractors Association NZ

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Lack of enrolments place future of fencing NZQA courses at risk

I have been coordinating the Certificate in Fencing Level 3 and 4 courses for NorthTec for the last couple of years. As most of you know, the courses were reviewed and reinstated in 2018 in their current format.

In 2018 we saw 11 students go through the Level 3 course. COVID hindered several courses through 2020/2021, but we still had good numbers in 2022, and roughly 70 across the country went through the training in 2023. In Level 4 (which launched again last year) we have seen one course of 12 complete and the mid-year intake of 13 is near completion with similarly good results.

The feedback on Level 4 has been excellent and the tutor David Horner is a great asset to the industry, in that he understands how contractors think. Together we try and align the timings of the courses to what will work around people’s staff and businesses. This is also the same for Level 3, the tutors across the country are an asset to the industry.

In the last 12 months, I have been working with the online development team to integrate the Level 4 learning into an online system that will help aid and give the learner confidence that what they are doing is correct. This has been a huge undertaking, and it has led the way behind the scenes for other industries.

The fencing industry has lacked a form of continued recognised training. Yes, the Association has had its eggs in this basket for a very long time, but the implementation and execution of those things has never continually lined up.

When I was in the rural banking industry, I inherently saw the very people fencers work for, downgrading the trade as if anyone could do it. Comments like “It’s just fencing, we’ll do it ourselves”. It used to annoy me, because they would be better sticking to their knitting and sorting their feed and cashflow budgets, than fencing for three months on a job that could be done in two weeks by a professional.

The industry needs to be recognised as a trade by not only the people in it, but by any member of the public. Sure, within the industry, we can tell who is a good fencer and who is a rubbish one, just by looking at their work (and sometimes just by talking to them). I can’t fence to save my life, but I sure know what a good one looks like now after travelling the country looking at fences for days. This is what we want to get out to the general public, so they can make informed decisions and know that the contractors they are hiring have invested in training and business acumen. Not someone who bought a tractor and rammer and decides they’re a fencer. In shearing if you shear the skin of a sheep, ya mate next door kicks you up the jacksie and you get a tune up. Out in the back of beyond sometimes nobody sees a terrible fencing job until it falls apart and the neighbours have a stoush about stock getting out, or on a residential/lifestyle block the client wakes up every day to look out at their fence, with twisting rails or gaps in their palings the dog and cat can fit through. This is why the training and FCANZ Pathway go hand in hand.

Sure, some contractors and staff can complete these courses with their eyes closed. Do they?? No!! The tutors and I find ourselves dragging people along to get their work done before the end of the courses. There are students that are so diligent and have awesome time management, are great fencers and are the ones to showcase the industry. There are employers putting their staff through the course and I see the dedication and diligence they have in their businesses regarding training and health and safety – these are the companies we want showcasing the industry.

The courses are numbers-driven, bums on seats. Each fully enrolled student creates a funding mechanism that allows a course to be viable and enables us to pay for tutors and materials. The fee attributed to the learner from TEC is only generated once fully enrolled and attending. Attendance is a key factor. Each week, NorthTec are noting attendance; attendance to Zoom sessions, block courses, etc. If the attendance isn’t tracked, funding is queried. If someone doesn’t attend, their funding is pulled.

To keep these courses going, we need enrolments
If we don’t have enrolments, we have no funds to keep them going. There is only so much I can do. If the industry (THAT’S YOU, READING THIS) wants to be recognised and have NZQA backing, this is the only opportunity to maintain that. This is as close to an Apprenticeship as we will get at this stage, given the changes in the Tertiary sector with the new government and the changes to skills standards. We are setting things up in the way we provide these courses to hopefully align with an Apprenticeship when the time comes.

If you’re wanting training and to align this industry with other recognised trades like building and plumbing, get on board and get training. Otherwise, it will be lost, more than likely never to return.

Article written by Donna Upton
Course Co-ordinator,
NorthTec | Te Pukenga
and FCANZ Board Member

Published in WIRED Issue 72 / March 2024 by Fencing Contractors Association NZ

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The Great Gate Giveaway

The Great Gate giveaway will provide relief for East Coast and Hawke’s Bay farmers.

Fencing Contractors Association of New Zealand (FCANZ) will be giving away 100 farm gate and gudgeon sets and 10,000 insulators to twenty farmers in the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay, still dealing with the after-effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The Great Gate Giveaway is the culmination of fundraising efforts in the 12 months since the cyclone and has been made possible thanks to the support of Association Partners Gallagher, Beattie Insulators and Summit Steel & Wire. The equipment retails for over $35,000 and will be distributed at the East Coast Farming Expo, held in Wairoa from February 21-22.

“We are a year on from the cyclone, and some of these farmers are still unable to contain their stock. You can’t farm like that. As an Association, we hope this giveaway will help ease some of the financial and mental strain that these farmers are feeling,” says FCANZ President Phil Cornelius.

Recipients have been nominated by FCANZ members who work in the area and the local Rural Support Trust co-ordinator to ensure the gates and insulators make it to those who are really struggling to get on top of their farm fencing.

Family-owned New Zealand manufacturers Beattie Insulators have donated 10,000 insulators to the cause. “We are delighted to be able to work with FCANZ to help these farmers. We know it’s only a small part, but every bit helps.” Says Ivan Beattie, one of the second-generation company owners.

The Association will also host a BBQ on the evening of 21 February for FCANZ members, gate recipients and their families. FCANZ Patron Craig “Wiggy” Wiggins, and creator of the “Lean on a Gate, Talk to a Mate” movement, will be available to talk with people about their concerns for themselves or their friends.

“Some of these farmers are doing it really tough, so it’s never been more important for people to reach out to their mates and check they are ok. It can be hard to start the conversation, but Lean on a Gate has resources and people to help, no matter what you’re dealing with,” says Craig.

The Association plans to be back in the district in early autumn to deliver another two-day re-fencing event, during which time fencers will volunteer their time to reinstate essential fencing.

Originally planned for late 2023, the event has been delayed to allow the ground to dry out – a plan hampered by recurring rain events. “The reality is that the scale of damage in the area means it will be some time before permanent fencing work can be started in many areas,” says Phil. “It makes sense that we come back in autumn and assist with the reinstatement of essential fencing then.”

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An important step to reaching goals 

For Manawatu fencer Emile de Greeuw, completing industry training through NorthTec is a stepping stone to reaching his goals. Based just south of Pahiatua, Emile, 33, has been in the agricultural industry since he was 16 years old. He started out as a fencing contractor nine years ago, and established Omata Fencing in 2016. 

“Before that, I worked for a few different contractors in the lower North Island and in the South Island.” He developed a taste for fencing while at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre back in 2007, and saw the opportunities it offered for self-employment. “After shepherding for 10 years, I realised if I wanted to buy my own farm, I would need to have more control over my income.” 

He said he enjoyed that fencing took him around the countryside, seeing a range of farming operations through the back gate. It was also a hugely rewarding job seeing projects come together to completion. “With fencing, there is the benefit of visual progress every day, and I enjoy being able to look back at a fence that I have done with satisfaction.” 

Emile completed the NZ Certificate in Fencing (Level 4) this year and found that once he started it and structured it into his schedule, it was easy to get through. 

“The course was completely online so really easy to complete. (There were) weekly Zoom meetings with the tutor and classmates to see how everyone was getting on with their assignments. But the tutor was always available for email and calls if you needed help.” 

Emile started the course as part of working towards being an Accredited Fencing Contractor. He had previously completed parts of the Level 3 course over the years through Primary ITO courses. He said industry training had given him valuable tools for running his business. “I enjoyed fine-tuning parts of my business that needed it. We got some really helpful resources that we will continue to use in a modern-day business, especially in the current climate.” 

With a young family, Emile said finding the time to get the assignments done had been the biggest challenge, with a busy life on the farm, running the business, and family. “I find I work best early in the morning, with a coffee, well before the kids get up, and it’s still dark outside.” 

Emile said the Level 4 tutor had brought an exceptional amount of expertise and experience to the table. “He was probably overqualified for the job. An absolute wealth of knowledge and really easy to understand. He has run both large-scale corporates and small businesses.” 

Industry training was helping to reach business goals, Emile said. “Completing the course is a step in the process of becoming an Accredited Fencing Contractor through FCANZ, which has been a goal for a really long time, and could possibly aid my position when tendering for larger corporate jobs.” 

He recommended the course for anyone who sometimes worked in their business too much and not on their business enough. “This course makes you take a step back and figure out what your point of difference is when tendering for jobs, and recruiting and retaining staff.” 

Emile has a clear set of goals for the future that he said industry training had helped him work towards. Owning his own farm was at the top of that list. “My plan is to use the accreditation alongside my reputation to become a preferred contractor to more corporate or commercial primary industry businesses, and eventually work exclusively on a value-based pricing system instead of traditional hourly-rate work. 

“The fencing business will always be a vehicle for the end goal of farm ownership.”  

Article written by Rosa Watson

Published in the Professional Development Feature in WIRED Issue 71 / December 2023 by Fencing Contractors NZ

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A tutor’s perspective 

I enjoy getting on with people and sharing knowledge; the offer seemed a great next step to take. What I enjoy about tutoring is the variety of people I meet from all ages and areas – ranging from very experienced fencers to new members of the fencing industry. You never stop learning and sharing ideas. 


  • John Noakes 
  • Based in rural Motueka on a lifestyle block with my wife Carol, running a few beef and sheep. 
  • Self-employed fencing contractor doing a variety of rural, security, industrial, residential fencing and everything in between. 
  • I promote the fencing industry New Zealand-wide at Field Days and MC’ing Fencing Best Practice Days. 
I set a high standard of workmanship and enjoy sharing knowledge, which led to me being asked if I would like to tutor one of the first Certificate in Fencing (Level 3) courses for NorthTec | Te Pukenga in the South Island, about four years ago. 

At times, it can be challenging taking people from the level of work they do, to the higher quality of workmanship that is necessary to achieve Level 3 & 4 qualifications. Enhancing students’ learning, to me, is sharing ideas and treating people how you want to be treated. It goes a long way in life. 

I make mistakes as easy as anyone, but the right thing to do is to go back and put them right. When you make a mistake, learn from it and share it with others. It’s a learning curve. Work as a team. It’s attention to detail that wins out. 

Going to Fieldays and watching competition fencing will help with technique and take you to the top of your game. Make sure you attend FCANZ’s Best Practice Days, as you will get heaps out of it – there’s a wealth of knowledge to be gained from FCANZ Partners and other contractors from around the country. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Some of the best moments I’ve had while tutoring have been seeing students work in all the different and amazing countryside and types of ground conditions, from drilling solid rock to silt, and everything in between. From flat land to high country, it all has its challenges. 

Memorable moments 

One of the best feelings ever is to see seven of my students (including Amanda Beckham) enter the NZFC fencing competition at the Kirwee Field Days, and to witness one of my Level 3 students, Michael Conijn of Custom Fencing (Dunedin), receive the Trainee of the Year award at the FCANZ Conference this year. Michael is a great team player, doing outstanding work. The women attending the courses show great attention to detail in their work. 

If you’re coming into the fencing industry, gaining the Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications will be a huge benefit to you and your business – it proves you have attained and demonstrated a high standard of knowledge and workmanship, with attention to detail. Setting high standards and holding qualifications has got to be great for the fencing industry. The world is your oyster; get out there and go hard (with health and safety at the forefront of all activity, of course). 

What other career offers you the ability to have a new office every day!? 

Cheers, Noksee. 

Article written by John Noakes

Published in the Professional Development Feature in WIRED Issue 71 / December 2023 by Fencing Contractors Association NZ 

You may also like: Industry training key to moving business forward

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Industry training key to moving business forward

For Manawatu-based fencing contractor Wilton Weeks, completing the industry training has been an effective way to improve how he runs his business. 

Wilton Weeks, 28, is based in northern Manawatu and has been contracting full-time for three years. Before he went out fencing, he was shearing and did some fencing in the off-season, originally for a contractor and then out on his own. 

He got his first taste of fencing as a cadet at Smedley Station in Hawke’s Bay. From here, his passion for the trade grew. 

He began competing in fencing competitions, which he found a great way to develop his skills, pitting himself against fencers from around the country. 

This year, Wilton decided to take another step forward in completing the New Zealand Certificate in Fencing (Level 4) provided through NorthTec in conjunction with FCANZ. He finished the 31-week course in November. 

The course is aimed at experienced fencers and covers the whole gambit of running a fencing business, including designing and constructing fences, interpreting a livestock yard design, constructing yards to meet client requirements, and developing the knowledge and skills to lead a team and manage client relationships. 

The course is carried out online with weekly zoom meetings with the tutor, which Wilton said made it very flexible to work around. 

“This has worked in really well with work and other parts of life.” 

Wilton said he had originally decided to sign up to the course as it was a requirement to gaining accreditation with FCANZ. 

“But I have really enjoyed what I have learnt during the course. It has helped me to develop good bookwork habits and has taught me how to run my business in a far more professional manner. 

“It has also been good for reflection on my performance both personally and as a business.” 

He said the most challenging part of the course was getting back into studying after a number of years out in the workforce. 

“Even at school I was not very good at motivating myself for study, but by setting a time every weekday to sit down and study or do business bookwork, I have worked through the course easily. 

He had also found he was far more on top of the business work as a result. “This is a habit I intend to continue,” 

Wilton said the tutor had been instrumental in getting the course done. 

“Our tutor has been really good at teaching and helping us through the course. The weekly sessions are good for keeping everything fresh in our minds, and helping with any questions or issues the students are facing. 

“He is also readily available for one-on­ one sessions over the phone, and to help outside of our zoom sessions. David has also been a wealth of knowledge in other parts of business not covered in the course and I have taken a lot away from our discussions.” 

Wilton said it was also a chance to network and discuss ideas with other contractors in the same boat. 

“The other good aspect of being on a course with like-minded people is it is a good chance to discuss ideas and how to overcome some of the common problems faced in business.” 

Wilton is excited for the future and said with the training completed he can see the path to reaching his goals. 

“This course will and has already helped towards growing my business and carrying out the business side of my work in a more professional manner.” 

And he’s not done yet. 

“My goal is to work my way up the FCANZ qualification ladder to create a point of difference and a standard for my business, and for me this is the first step.” 

For Wilton, fencing is an extremely satisfying job that covers a broad range of skills and trades, from earthworks and machinery operation to engineering. 

“No two days (are) the same. This not only makes it a really interesting job in its own right, but is also a great opportunity for young people who aren’t quite sure what they want to do as a career to get out, learn some skills and find what they’re really passionate about.”  

He felt for many, fencing was not considered a highly skilled industry and fencers didn’t get the recognition for the broad range of skills and experience they carry.

“I really support FCANZ and NorthTec in creating an official qualification and pathway to recognise fencers and their skills. This will also set a standard for the entire industry to live up to.”

He highly recommended the training to anybody wanting to progress in the industry.

“When starting out in business or a leadership role there is a lot that this course covers that would otherwise have to be learnt by trial and error.

“I believe having the opportunity to do this course when I first started out in business would have saved me a lot of hard work and mistakes.”

Article written by Rosa Watson

Published in the Professional Development Feature in WIRED Issue 71 / December 2023 by Fencing Contractors NZ