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ATNZ manages apprenticeships across mechanical engineering including general engineering, heavy and light fabrication, heating ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration and air conditioning, maintenance engineering, and toolmaking.

About ATNZ

The ATNZ Trust is New Zealand’s largest employer of mechanical engineering apprentices. Employers pay an hourly rate to the ATNZ Trust to have an apprentice seconded to their business on a contract basis to work and learn. Competenz manages and delivers the ATNZ Apprentice Programme.

Ben Norton ATNZ page

“ATNZ placed me with an incredible company who have provided me with great opportunities and experiences, like going overseas for a month on a product install. Other than buying tools I haven't spent a cent on my apprenticeship. I believe doing an apprenticeship is the debt-free start to an amazing career." 

Ben Norton, ATNZ apprentice at Compac Sorting, Auckland 


For 20-year-old Ben Norton, working in the engineering industry is his dream career. The ATNZ apprentice at Compac Sorting Equipment, Auckland is in his third year of his apprenticeship and loves every minute.

“By the end of each weekend I look forward to heading in to the engineering workshop on Monday. I get paid to pursue and learn more about my passion every day,” says Ben.

Ben is an ATNZ apprentice, which means he was placed into his apprenticeship by ATNZ.

“I’m really thankful to ATNZ for placing me with Compact Sorting Equipment. I think it’s awesome there’s a company like that who are committed to placing young people into trades.”

A former Macleans College student, Ben took engineering unit standards at school which fuelled his passion for the industry.

“When I was picking my subjects for school, I was weighing up between computing and mechanical engineering. I listened to my mum who said, ‘why not try engineering? You make something you can keep forever. You might find you don’t want to be on a computer all day’. I thought – why not? And I’m certainly glad I did,” he says.

“I achieved top marks in engineering two years in a row at Macleans College and wasted no time in starting a trial for my apprenticeship the day after my last exam.

“ATNZ placed me with an incredible company who have provided me with great opportunities and experiences, like going overseas for a month on a product install. Other than buying tools I haven't spent a cent on my apprenticeship. I believe doing an apprenticeship is the debt-free start to an amazing career.”

Now at the tail end of his apprenticeship, Ben is using his skills and experience to inspire others.

“Towards the beginning of my apprenticeship, I was invited to give a presentation at Auckland University of Technology to share my story about how my time at school prepared me for my apprenticeship, as well as the benefits of doing an apprenticeship to an audience of teachers, lecturers and apprentice managers. I received a ‘BBQ Award’ from the owner of Compac Sorting Equipment for my efforts,” he says.

Ben is thankful to the team at Compac for all their support.

“I’m grateful to Compac Sorting and my Production Manager Andrew Jackson for seeing the potential in me, and giving me this amazing start to my engineering career,” he says.

“I love the blend of mental and physical accuracy and exertion required by fitting and machining. I have a genuine interest in the theory material as it’s not only highly relevant and a good reference for my everyday work, but also great learning for my passion as an avid car enthusiast. I couldn’t be happier beginning my career with an apprenticeship.”

ATNZ Trustees

John BlakeyJohn Blakey was the CEO of Competenz until December 2015. He has over 20 years’ experience in vocational education and training.

John has played a pivotal role in the evolution of industry training in New Zealand over the years. Prior to joining Competenz he was the CEO of FITEC, the forestry industry training organisation, for nine years.

He was a two-term Tertiary Education Commission commissioner and Board member, and past Chair of the Industry Training Federation. He has led the industry training policy position on the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission and its successor, the Tertiary Education Commission.

Bill NewsonBill Newson is the current National Secretary for the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) and was elected to this role in June, 2011. He has extensive experience in the field of employee representation.

Bill has a trade background with an involvement in ITOs and trade training since the introduction of the Industry Training Act. He has played a significant part in the development of engineering apprenticeship training trusts.

Bill is a trustee for the ATNZ Trust which currently employs over 300 engineering apprentices and seconds them to employers nationwide.

Mike LehanMike is the General Manager of Page Macrae Engineering, is on the Executive committee of the Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA), and is also a member of the Geothermal Association.

Mike has over 27 years’ experience in the engineering industry spanning Australia and New Zealand where he has worked on projects which include chemical process, mechanical engineering and implementation of capital projects.

He is a qualified Fitter/Turner and holds his NZCE in Mechanical Engineering.

Mike WardlawAfter a 35 year career in the Royal New Zealand Navy, Mike became a consultant to VT Shipbuilding (part of VT Group Plc) to assist with the tender for Project Protector in association with Fitzroy Engineering Group Ltd. 

During that period he identified an opportunity to tender for the management of HMNZ Dockyard.He subsequently led a bid team to successfully win the contract under a Joint Venture structure including VT Group Plc (UK) and Fitzroy Engineering (New Plymouth, NZ).

Mike was appointed Business Manager for the newly formed company VT Fitzroy Ltd in June 2004.  In April 2006 he was appointed Managing Director.

Babcock International Group bought VT Group in 2010 and subsequently the Fitzroy shareholding in the company. Mike is currently the Managing Director of Babcock (NZ) Ltd.

Fiona KingsfordFiona Kingsford joined Competenz in 2009 and has been CEO since January 2016. As a member of the Competenz Senior Leadership team, she has held portfolios which cover operations, strategy, innovation, business transformation and Māori and Pasifika development.

Fiona holds an Advanced Diploma in Human Resources and Executive MBA from the University of Auckland. Before joining Competenz, Fiona worked in the media, food manufacturing, emergency services and hospitality sectors.