Butcher's apprentice a cut above
A young family man from Tapawera has earned national recognition for his steady hands and skills with a cleaver.
Jamie Hadfield has been named Best Butchery Apprentice in the Countdown supermarket network - unsurprising when you see the ease with which he works a screaming bandsaw.
The happy 22-year-old, who lives in Nelson but is indebted to his rural upbringing and education at Tapawera Area School, started working in the supermarket deli seven years ago.
Eventually he heard his calling as a meat-cleaver, and signed up for a three-year butchery apprenticeship programme through Countdown.
In two months Mr Hadfield will have finished training and become a qualified butcher, with every intention of staying loyal to the company that trained him.
"I'll stay here [at Countdown Nelson]," he said.
"I have no reason to leave," he added, grateful to his colleagues, past and present, who have helped him learn the tricks of the trade.
"They have put a lot of effort into me over the years.
"It's good fun, and they are a good bunch of guys to work with."
Mr Hadfield, who has a two-year-old son and another on the way, said his partner will have to take maternity leave from her job soon, leaving him to bring in the bacon, and other cuts, on his own.
A modest pay rise that comes with qualification would help him look after his growing family, the scotch-fillet fan said.
Dennis Amies, Countdown Nelson's butchery manager, said his charge was fully deserving of the national recognition.
"He is very willing to learn, and I think that's why he's gone so far so quickly.
"He takes a lot on board, and is willing to listen and learn," Mr Amies said.
And a manager with industry training organisation Competenz, Rob Prins, who oversees apprentice assessments, said Mr Hadfield was a "fantastic" worker.
"He's just magic," Mr Prins said.
He said butchery had to be one of the oldest professions - an essential industry for as long as man has had a liking for fresh-cut meat.
He said New Zealand's economy has grown on the back of the meat industry since the 1800s.
"It's all good having Fonterra and tourism, but the meat industry is still huge and essential."
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