Female truck drivers lead the way in driving competitions at New Zealand’s largest truck show

In News11 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 21, 2022

New Zealand’s largest truck and trade show is shaping up to be a true celebration of the transport industry. More than 20,000 visitors are expected to visit the Canterbury A&P Showgrounds in Christchurch on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 November for the TMC Trucking Industry Show.

“For those in the industry, the competitions are a major draw card, with truck and crane drivers competing across a range of vehicle classes to prove their skills. The 2022 show will see the introduction of the National Industry Competitions with heats occurring on Friday, and class winners joining the regional winners from the Auckland heats that were held on 15 October,” says David Boyce, CEO, New Zealand Trucking Association (NTA).

“Truck Drivers from all over New Zealand will compete in the TR Group NZ Truck Driving Championshipincluding the Hydraulink Class 5 Truck and Trailer, Spartan Finance Class 5 Tractor Semi or the EROAD Class 2 competition Categories, with an overall winner being selected to be the TR Group NZ Truck Driver of the Year 2022. Each class winner will receive a Trophy, $2500 cash, and a return trip for two to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show. Runners up will receive $1000 cash. Special recognition awards will be given to the winners of the TR Group Young Driver of the year and the EROAD Women Driver of the year,” says Boyce.

According to Neil Bretherton, GM strategic development for TR Group: “In the past 12 months TR Driver Training has licenced 853 new drivers in Classes 2 to 5 – small to large heavy vehicles – with women making up 11% of the licences. The industry is increasingly attracting new talent in part due to improved pay rates, better awareness of the role of supply chain, and truck technology and automation making it easier and less daunting to drive the bigger rigs. We are also seeing increased diversity due to changing attitudes from both inside and outside the industry. ”
“Proving that trucking isn’t just for the blokes are two Class 5 Truck and Trailer competitors, Sammie Fraser and Emma Satherley, both of whom don’t fit the typical truck driver mould,” says Boyce.

Now 30, Fraser got into the industry at age 21 thanks to encouragement from her now husband Dean Fraser who is Transport Operations Manager at NZ Express Transport, and best friend who pushed her into giving it a go.

“I was working in a café and the trucking boys would stop for lunch and I thought how good would that be? To be out and about each day, seeing the city and meeting new people,” says Fraser. “I was always keen to learn and try new things and meet new people. I’ve been at NZ Express Transport in Christchurch for eight and a half years, my entire trucking career. They supported me through the qualification process – I started on a Class 2 for one year and then was on a Class 4 for a year before successfully getting my Class 5.”

She believes entering the driving competition is a great way to upskill and keep drivers on their toes – a veteran with three previous Truck Show Driving Competitions under her belt – it helps refresh drivers on the theory and regulations.

Each year the detail of the course is a closely kept secret, with competitors only finding out on the day what challenges they will be faced with. But Fraser is hoping past experience will go in her favour this year.

Emma Satherley

Joining her in the Class 5 competition is first time competitor, Satherley, who agrees it’s a great way to hone your skills and utilise the experience of the trainers. Growing up in the Waikato on a dairy farm near Morrinsville she remembers driving as soon as her feet could reach the pedals, but truck driving wasn’t her first choice of career.

“I’m quite a girly girl and my first career was as a hairdresser and makeup artist. After going through some challenging times in my late twenties I decided I needed a change. Being a truck driver was something that had been in the back of my mind. I did a 12-week course and got my Certificate of Transportation which included my Class 2 licence, dangerous goods, wheels, tracks and rollers and forklift licence – gaining this certificate really helped when I was applying for my first trucking job. I was a tiny, little thing with pink hair so having some qualifications behind me helped prove I was serious about moving into the industry,” says Satherley.

In April 2020, faced with rising houses prices, she took the decision to move to Christchurch, having never been there and knowing no one, to get on the housing ladder.

After spending 2021 unsuccessfully trying to buy in Christchurch Satherley upped sticks again and moved to Gore becoming a proud homeowner in June 2022. She’s extremely grateful to her boss at Steve Murphy Ltd, Chris Murphy, for both helping grow her experience and for the glowing references he gave her new company, McNeill Distribution. Being able to walk straight into a new job in Gore made the move far easier.

“Trucking is something I think more women should consider. Here at McNeill’s, we have three female drivers, one on a Class 4 and two of us on our Class 5 – people don’t realise that the industry constantly supports upskilling, ongoing qualifications, and specialist training,” says Satherley. “There is so much potential including pathways to business ownership. I’m currently focused on becoming a log truck owner-driver, then in time perhaps branching out to machinery transportation.”

“I want to show that not only can we pull our weight behind the wheel, but we can also do it with a touch of class,” says Satherley.

More information about the 2022 TMC Trucking Industry show:

  • Entry into the Show
    • $10 entry and children are free under 18. Parking is free. The event is being held at the Canterbury A&P Showgrounds in Christchurch. Public entry is via the Wigram Road entry.
    • All kids’ activities are free and include some amazing activities like the MEGA Bouncy Truck obstacle course. Mini Golf Transport Village, the Giant Sandpit filled with treasure, Remote Control Toy Trucks, Valvoline Road Safety Track where you can ride a scooter or a cool peddle car.
    • Upwards of four hundred trucks are expected to travel from all around New Zealand, and a record number have already registered for the 2022 UDC Show & Shine, with large registrations for the BP Classic Trucks Showcase 2022.
  • Friday 25 November
    • Friday Careers Trucking Showcase. Secondary schools from around the South Island have been invited to attend.
    • Truck Drivers from all over New Zealand travel to Christchurch to compete in the TR Group NZ Truck Driving Championship including the heats for the Hydraulink Class 5 Truck and Trailer, Spartan Finance Class 5 Tractor Semi or the EROAD Class 2 Categories.
  • Saturday 26 November
    • Finals of the TR Group NZ Truck Driving Championship: Hydraulink Class 5 Truck and Trailer, Spartan Finance Class 5 Tractor Semi or the EROAD Class 2 Categories.
    • The first ever big crane competition sponsored by Liebherr is taking place with Titan, Smiths and Calder Stewart facing off to find New Zealand’s best operator.
    • New Zealand’s first truck-mounted crane competition, sponsored by Palfinger.
    • 2022 New Zealand Forklift Industry Association Forklift Championships promises much excitement. The winner will receive the 2022 Trophy, $1000 cash and a prize pack, the second-place winner will receive $500 cash. Regional heats were held around NZ on the 15 of October, with regional winners getting direct entry to the final.
    • The show will round off at the Teletrac Navman Show Lawn and Awards Function. Live bands will be playing. Tickets are $30.00 per person, drinks and food truck meals are available at own cost. This dinner will sell out, so it is advisable to order your tickets now.
  • For more information https://www.nztruckingassn.co.nz/trucking-industry-show