Gina Reuben from Tauranga is a grandmother of two and competing in the finals of New Zealand’s first Roofing Games.
She is also the only female to be in the race and showing no sign of shying away.
"I’m excited and nervous," giggles Gina, over the phone from THC Roofing Tauranga.
"I just love roofing."
When asked what it is she loves about it, she says, "the open air, being in nature. I’m a bit of a wild one at heart."
Gina started roofing at 19, and due to a small personal side-track, put it away for a while. Last year, she approached the owner of THC Roofing - her old boss, and he offered her job back.
"He tested me out and said yep we’ll give you a try."
That ‘try’, has turned out to put Gina on the NZ Roofing map.
She has secured a place among eight finalists, from 350 competing roofers NZ-wide - all blokes and mostly fit and young.
Gina’s husband and grown son are all roofers.
"Around the dinner table it’s ‘roofing this’, ‘roofing that’," she laughs.
"And my two grandkids are very, very proud of me."
The roofing gang of 22 men she works with are also rapt for her.
She mainly works on large commercial buildings in the current Tauranga build boom.
Some buildings are 16 metres high.
The heights, she says, gets easier with time.
"I was nervous on my first big height, but you start to get used to it. It’s awesome now as New Zealand has strict safety codes for roofers, we have to wear hard hats and harnesses.
“I like working on commercial as you have lots of others to help you. And there’s cranes now to help with big lifts."
Gina adds, women are good because they multi-task. In the future, she would like to join NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction).to network with other women in building.
The punchy fast-paced, 3-hour long Roofing Games is an MRM (NZ Metal Roofing Manufactures) initiative, to check out the performance and skill level of metal roofing installers.
It reaches its zenith on the final day of this year’s RANZ (Roofing Association of NZ) conference on Friday.
The games will be at the Vodafone Events Centre, South Auckland.
The highest scoring four skilled fixers will be chasing a $5000 travel prize and the four highest scoring intermediate level fixers will compete for travel worth $2,500.
Traditionally, the Expo/Workshops of the RANZ Conference have been open to members only.
But next year, RANZ CEO Graham Moor indicates they are likely to open their doors to the public.
Tertiary education students, apprentices, could come at a discounted rate. This would be in alignment to help ease the current skill gap in the NZ Roofing and Construction scene in general.
We all know KiwiBuild and huge housing booms are on their way, says Graham.
"This is an invigorating event to be part of. There is a definite need for skills upgrades in roofing and construction right now. With the lack of tradespeople, high construction demand and KiwiBuild - we have to keep lifting the levels of skilled workers.
“We also need to invest in our youth-we are, with a roofing school as part of our strategic plan."
RANZ will celebrate its 25th Anniversary next year. And the national conference is likely to be held in the South Island.
"The positive feedback and enthusiasm from participating roofers has RANZ looking at how to better support this NZMRM initiative for next year," Graham says.
The exercise benchmarks the standards to be achieved across the industry, the MRM-funded, RANZ supported event provides a clear picture of what’s needed to improve workmanship standards.
The competition has four modules based on the RANZ How-to-Handbook on metal roof flashings which features the most commonly found details required for residential roofing. Installers have competed individually on a module and have been judged on their delivery and understanding of good trade practice, the quality of their work, housekeeping and safety in the work area and time taken to complete the exercise.
Roofer Max Brough and Noel Sands, who have taken this roadshow event to the North and South Islands this year, say installers have particularly enjoyed the competitive element of the project and the team building benefits for participating roofing companies has been rewarding. Noel says three expert kiwi Roofers will judge the installations.
The Roofing Games are also sustainable.
What happens to the roofs once they’re built after competition? They are broken down and the materials recycled.
1st North Island - Intermediate
2nd North Island - Intermediate
1st North Island - Skilled
Capital Roofing Solutions
2nd North Island - Skilled
1st South Island - Intermediate
2nd South Island - Intermediate
1st South Island - Skilled
2nd South Island - Skilled