PrintNZ has announced the ten apprentices who will contest the prestigious 2023 BJ Ball Print Apprentice of the Year, presented in 2024 for those completing apprenticeships in 2023.

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The Top 10 finalists are:

  •     Martina Carroll – Freedom Plus, Palmerston North
  •     George Cunningham – Allied Press, Dunedin
  •     Anna Hodge – Be My Guest Design, Dunedin
  •     Levi Lindsey – MCC Auckland, Auckland
  •     Ruth Pollock – Be My Guest Design, Dunedin
  •     Amit Shankar – Labelmakers, Hamilton
  •     Satend Sharma – Polyprint Packaging, Auckland
  •     David Smith – MCC Auckland, Auckland
  •     Kathryn Wheeler – Freedom Plus, Palmerston North
  •     Keanu Wipani – Opal Packaging Hawke’s Bay, Hastings

PrintNZ chief executive Ruth Cobb paid tribute to the high-calibre candidates, saying: “It is always with such pleasure that I look forward to starting the process of selecting the Apprentice of the Year candidates – identifying the high achievers who have really put their all into their training and being able to reward that hard work.”  PrintNZ ruth cobb crPrintNZ CEO Ruth Cobb

Cobb adds: “Our finalists come from a broad spread of the industry – from newspaper printing to print finishing – but the standout sector this year is packaging which incorporates labels. Packaging takes many forms and plays an important role in product safety, durability and visibility and our industry is an important part of that process.”

Ms Cobb also noted the Top 10, who completed their apprenticeships during the course of last year, reflected the high priority that many companies in the industry place on training.

“It is unprecedented to have three companies with two apprentices apiece in the Top 10. That clearly demonstrates not only the importance that those firms place on achieving the highest levels of professionalism and quality in their staff, but that their own programmes are reaping rewards for both their people and their businesses,” she says.

Direct managers or senior company executives provided the following glowing comments on their respective apprentices:

 PrintNZ AOY MartinaCarroll   Martina Carroll – "an eye for detail and quality control that is second to none, her graphic design background and talent is also a great advantage in digital print operation"


  PrintNZ AOY GeorgeCunningham  George Cunningham – "with an unwavering commitment to excellence, his focus is sharp and attention to detail unmatched, making him an invaluable asset to the team"


 PrintNZ AOY AnnaHodge Anna Hodge – "a methodical and creative designer, she is calm and collected even when dealing with stressed brides and missing courier parcels"


PrintNZ AOY LeviLindsey  Levi Lindsey – "a proactive approach, combined with consistently delivering top-notch work and keeping a positive attitude, speaks volumes of his dedication and work ethic"


PrintNZ AOY RuthPollock  Ruth Pollock – "fast, reliable and efficient, you would struggle to find someone who works harder and at 40-something has finally received recognition for career learnings"


PrintNZ AOY AmitShankar  Amit Shankar – "consistently producing good quality work, he has an eye for detail, works hard to achieve the best results for our customers and is a great team player"


PrintNZ AOYSatendSharma  Satend Sharma – "a quick learner who excels at problem solving and getting the best out of whatever equipment he is operating, he is a team player with a can-do attitude"


PrintNZ AOY DavidSmith  David Smith – "it came as no surprise that he has done well in his apprenticeship given his commitment and positive attitude, he is an asset to the business"



 PrintNZ AOY KathrynWheelerKathryn Wheeler – "with a keen eye for detail, she is able to multi-task with running various print finishing machines at one time and is very good at meeting all deadlines"


PrintNZ AOY KeanuWipani  Keanu Wipani – "with a can-do attitude, he works well with the rest of the team, is a quick learner and is able to operate three rotary die-cutters which is a bonus for us"


The 2023 BJ Ball Print Apprentice of the Year will be presented on stage at the Pride In Print Awards, being hosted at Wellington’s TĀKINA Events on Friday July 12th 2024.

For further information please contact PrintNZ chief executive Ruth Cobb,

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