Female MITO apprentices shine, bag top awards for collision repair

Jet Sanchez
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MITO apprentices and award winners Victoria Hine and Sidney Clow. Photo / Lissa Photography

MITO apprentices and award winners Victoria Hine and Sidney Clow. Photo / Lissa Photography

In a groundbreaking achievement, two female MITO apprentices have captured the top awards at the Collision Repair Association (CRA) Annual Conference in Auckland.

Sidney Clow from Matamata Panelworks 2000 was awarded the ‘Golden Gun’ for vehicle refinishing, while Victoria Hine from Fine Finish Ltd received the ‘Golden Hammer’ for collision repair.

Recognising excellence

Sidney Clow MITO apprentice
Sidney Clow / Photo / Lissa Photography

The CRA Apprentice of the Year Awards celebrate dedication, focus, and commitment to learning, alongside practical abilities, quality workmanship and academic achievements.

Sidney Clow expressed her enthusiasm for her craft, saying, “My passion for the automotive industry grew into something more serious during a college networking event that opened my eyes to the potential of a challenging yet fulfilling career.”

Sidney values her apprenticeship and the New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Refinishing. She shared, “The satisfaction of seeing a beautifully repaired and painted car is a feeling hard to beat. The constant strive to achieve perfection with colour matching and finishes keeps every day exciting.”

Inspired by passion

Victoria Hine MITO apprentice
Victoria Hine / Photo / Lissa Photography

Victoria Hine’s journey into the automotive repair industry began with a personal experience. “I had my Nissan Skyline through a panel shop, and they let me inside to show me around. I found it interesting and was inspired to try it out for myself,” she recounted.

Victoria is passionate about panel beating, noting, “I enjoy panel beating; it feels more impactful visually when repairing while keeping track of all the details to have a rewarding outcome. You’re only as good as your last job, so I make sure I do my best every time!”

Industry leaders applaud female apprentices

The awards were presented by MITO Executive Director Verna Niao and CRA President Warren Flowerday, who praised Sidney and Victoria for their remarkable achievements.

Verna Niao highlighted the significance of their success, stating, “Women in the automotive industry are driving change. Their diverse perspectives and expertise are essential to new ways of thinking and shaping the future of the automotive industry.”

Warren Flowerday added, “Congratulations to the two female winners! Your hard work, dedication, and talent have truly shined, proving that skills know no gender.”

Empowering the next generation

Gus Gilmore, Chief Executive of Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, expressed his delight at seeing two apprentices taking top honours for the first time. “This is a testament to the excellent work by all in growing our pipeline of women in traditionally men’s vocations and a huge demonstration of outstanding achievements by the two winners.”

The MITO/CRA Awards, held annually, recognise the top refinishing and panel-beating apprentices in the country, underscoring the importance of professional training and excellence within the industry.


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