This is Heli-Tilt Country

Arrow-white National Excavator Operator Competition

Posted by Jacob Hart

May 27, 2024

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11 mins read

Attach2 were very proud to be able to continue their partnership as a gold sponsor and supporter of this year’s annual Cable Price National Excavator Operator Competition (NEOC) that was held 14-16th March at Feilding’s Manfield Chris Amon Circuit race track. This is where The Central District Fieldays hosted the NEOC finals for all of the regional finalists to battle it out to see who is New Zealand’s best operator of 2024. 


Close to 200 of New Zealand’s best operators from across the country competed on their regional competitions throughout the previous 9 months where the 200 were slashed to just 12 regional champions. These 12 champions were then invited to fight for this year’s top spot against the first ever three-time champion Troy Calteaux from Milton, Otago.  

The top 12 regional champions plus Troy showcased their skillsets through a range of excavator tasks over the Friday and Saturday to complete the series of challenging tasks laid down by the judges. They fought their way through timed technical jobs designed to test specific capabilities under time pressure through to creative tests that are surely there to stump them. Can they pour a cup of tea without spilling any from a teapot attached to their A2 bucket? Can they scoop some ice cream with a custom attachment on their 13-tonne excavator and delicately place it into a cone as gently and precise as Mr Whippy? How are their skills at playing a giants’ version of Connect 4 against another operator? Can they shoot a basketball with their machine as easily as how like they may have once done in their earlier years?  

The competition was tight and the top 13 proved that it was very easy to make one small slip up which quickly changed the points score multiple times throughout the weekend. Brad Fallow from South Roads, the Southland regional winner explained the tough competition and how hard it is when battling against the best of the best. “I’ve really had to manage my time well, there’s not much time to work things out, you’ve really just got to get in there and do the best you can. This year is a lot harder and faster, the competition is right up there, there is a lot of big dogs and top guns.” 



An exciting visitor for all during the event was our very own Prime Minister Christopher Luxon where he was glad to meet people throughout the Fieldays event, and he also managed to have a bit of fun by having a go at taking part in a ride-on lawnmower race. Mr Luxon was lucky enough to operate one of Cable Price’s Hitachi ZX135US-7 14 tonne excavators which was fitted with our very own Heli-Tilt coupler and Multi-Grab attachment. He gave his best attempt at placing a Connect 4 token into the giant playing frame yet Luxon’s slow and careful approach proved how advanced the top 13 really are when behind the sticks of any excavator. 

Thinking about the event’s future and taking it all in is part of the job for Alan Pollard, CEO of CCNZ. The organisation founded NEOC back in the 1990’s and as the main sponsor, they have the official responsibility for bringing the entire event together. A huge undertaking, but one that CCNZ is undaunted by and easily embraces, having grown the event to where it is today. Alan has high-level industry oversight, but also easily sees what’s unfolding on the ground in front of him. It’s no coincidence that young kids are learning the craft, or that there’s a careers tent to welcome youth, or that large parts of his staff are fully immersed in helping to bring an entire community together.  

It’s clearly culture-building with multiple benefits for all involved. “I look at the passion amongst our branch networks and it’s the same all around the country. We’re committed long-term. This competition is here for the long haul.” Alan recognises success is a team effort that reflects the values of the industry. “The commitment that everyone has made to make this event happen with all of our sponsors and partners is incredible.  A massive task that they all do passionately and selflessly. It makes us really proud to be a part of this industry and I’m blown away by just how incredible the people are.” 

The role of the competition to shape and safeguard the future of the sector is important to Alan. “If we’re looking at labour shortages [in the future] then we need competitions like this.”  



As a Gold Sponsor, Attach2 is also committed to helping make the event successful and supporting the industry too. Our Sales and Marketing General Manager, Billy Hart, represented A2 at NEOC and echoes Alan’s enthusiasm. “Through ‘Attachments for Champions,’ we support the NEOC, recognising and elevating the underappreciated skills of excavator operators. Supporting NEOC underscores our commitment to excellence in the industry and celebrating the talents of operators nationwide.” 

Part of Attach2’s sponsorship means the company’s attachments are on the end of the Hitachi 13.5 and 5.5-tonne excavators that finalists use to compete. Some of these attachments include the Heli-Tilt tilt coupler, Wide grading buckets, GP Buckets and Multi Grab Buckets.  

The 2024 finalists consisted of Steven George from Northland taking home 3rd place, Michael Brown from Waikato in 2nd and the first ever back-to-back-back defending champion Troy Calteaux taking home the win again! Troy was ecstatic with the win and so were his peers when his name was announced, he mentioned that he was going to retire from the competition prior to this year’s event yet with the motivation of his peers he was told that simply couldn’t. We are sure that he is very happy with his decision to give it one more crack after earning his name to be etched onto the winner’s plaque once again, extended his historical run. 

Congratulations to all that competed and to the organisers for another great event, we are certainly looking forwards to the next round which will be kicking off with the Waikato reginal competition at the National Fieldays in Mystery Creek in June.

Customer Profiles

Jacob leads a team of professional marketers who creatively execute Attach2's marketing strategy.

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