Roofer Wins Tradeswoman of the Year

Having a roofer win tradeswoman of the year shows that New Zealand’s roofing industry is well on track in terms of its strength and position in the construction business.

Elizsabeth (Liz) Watson of Stone Roofing won Tradeswoman of the Year with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWiC), in partnership with BCITO, at the NAWiC Excellence Awards. The event, held at Auckland’s prestigious Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron venue on 27 September, 2019, was a true celebration of diversity and of those who have put in the hard yards for progress. Liz, who’s a founding member and committee member of New Zealand Women In Roofing (NZWIR) and a member of NAWiC, co-owns Hamilton-based Stone Roofing Ltd with her partner Dan Stone.

BCITO, the major partner for the event, has ambitious organisational goals to influence an increase in the proportion of women in construction (to 30 percent by 2030). Chief executive Warwick Quinn says, “Women offer a new way of thinking, they’re good problem solvers, and help bring diversity to a male-dominated industry.”

RANZ executive committee member Paul Stanley-Boden echoes Quinn’s sentiments, debunking perceived obstacles and placing high value on having women on his team. “I have had a number of staff over the years, generally short term, of whom two have been women. Both cases were positive experiences, in that the women brought a slightly different mindset to the job. Obviously, there are key attributes such as reliability, honesty, work ethic, commonsense etc, that go into making a good employee, but it is a myth to think that the number one requirement for a roofer is brute strength and as such a bloke will be better. The key product components for me are rolls of membrane, 45kgs and upwards. Yes, I can lift them… but should I? Probably not (c.f. manual handling guidelines). It is, in fact, a two-person lift and a relatively comfortable one, even if one of those persons is all of 60kg and 1.60m.”

Paul has also noticed a trend that he sees to be of significant value to his business, even if it’s at the expense of a bit of speed. “Now for the stereotypes, based entirely on my experiences!… the women have consistently been better at the detail.” Paul says he is really impressed by Liz’s win, a view that is shared unanimously by the rest of the RANZ executive committee.

The NAWiC judges commented that Liz “both takes and makes opportunities”. In her acceptance speech, Liz highlighted some of the adversities she has overcome, with her ever-positive attitude shining through; she also acknowledged her partner (and business partner in Stone Roofing) Dan, from whom she primarily learnt the trade, and thanked RANZ, too.

Graham Moor, CEO of RANZ, also recognises this winning attitude in Liz. “Having met Liz when she was announced as the trainee of the year in 2016, I am not at all surprised she has received the accolade of tradeswoman of the year. Liz shows what happens when you enjoy what you do, and you are driven to improve yourself and inspire those around you. Liz is a great listener who values the help she can get from her connections in the industry. RANZ is very proud of Liz – another in the extending line of wāhine toa [or
warrior women] who have been part of RANZ since its inception.”

Liz says she loves her trade. "You’ll laugh, you’ll work hard and you’ll learn a specialist trade you can utilise everywhere, plus the bonus of getting to work in different surroundings all the time – which is good for the soul.” Here’s hoping that many more join us and follow in Liz’s footsteps, too.

If you are interested in getting in to the roofing trade, see our roofing training information page and our roofing ITO training provider, Skills

Photo credit: NAWIC