Messages from home to the team at Sao Paulo

The competition is now the full focus of the competitors. There is no distracting them. As I wander around, observing them, I can see the fixed concentration on their faces. Many of them are so focused they do not see us, or if they do they shoot us a quick smile, then get back to thinking about the task ahead.

Home is a tremendously long way away but there is no time to think about that. However, some of them have brought home with them and set up their stations accordingly.

Carpentry apprentice Matty Hull, for example, comes from Eketahuna and there was some concern that he might not adjust to the scale of things he would experience as a visitor to Brazil and as a competitor. He, like several competitors, is up against 40 other apprentices. But, they cannot allow themselves to think about that and Matty has found the perfect way to deal with it. He has set up his workstation to replicate his workshop in his hometown.

Sam Dean, his skill manager says, “You can take the boy out of Eketahuna, but you can’t take Eketahuna out of the boy.”

This prompted me to walk around the site and look at the workstations of all the New Zealand competitors. I found some creative and many examples of the way the competitors have wrapped New Zealand around themselves in this land many miles away from the familiar and comfortable.

Jacklyn Pillay, who is competing in cheffing, has a card with three iconic New Zealand images set up on her station. The card has the koru representing new beginnings, the pikorua representing eternity and the Hei Matau to bring her abundance and plenty of good luck. Besides that, she has a silver fern flag and the New Zealand flag. The whole set up captures the essence of Jacklyn and must have spurred her on as I am told her entry yesterday was of a very high standard.

Automotive refinishing competitor, Luke Tahurangi has set up his station with the silver fern flag and a pile of his business cards giving his workplace contact details and his personal details. If I was his employer I would be delighted with this exposure and see this as reward for the extra training time Luke received. Luke's card also includes the Worldskills logo and logos of his sponsors, Resene and Larsen's Automotive. Both will undoubtedly see this as value for the time and effort they have put into preparing him for this experience.

Amelia from floristry has a stand from which she has hung a black apron with a silver fern and New Zealand printed on it with a New Zealand flag hanging beside it. She says, these tangible things give her inspiration.

Nearly every station either has the silver fern flag draped over the side of the booth or hanging from the worktable. Clearly these symbols from home remind them who they represent and motivates them to keep driving toward achieving the goal that are here to achieve. Amelia’s words, “I’m out to win,” sums up the attitude of all the competitors.

Bruce forwarded a message from government to the competitors yesterday. As he read it out to them, tiredness after a very long day seemed to disappear and with it came the thumbs up and comments like, “that’s really cool.” As I watched, I saw backs straighten and eyes toughen with fresh resolve.

This is the message below.

Dear Tool Blacks,

I wanted to wish you the best of luck as you represent New Zealand at the WorldSkills International Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I’m advised there’s over 1,300 competitors from more than 70 countries at the event.

I look forward to hearing about your results across the skill categories the team is competing in.

Go the Tool Blacks!

Best wishes

Rt Hon John Key



Prime Minister John Key
Tool Blacks