Meet the Kiwi climbing to new heights for arborist title

Ngati Kaihau is quite literally scaling new heights as he competes to become the young arborist of the year.

The NZ ARB Husqvarna National Tree Climbing Championship kicks off in Dunedin today.

"Pretty stoked it’s my first time around," Mr Kaihau told Te Karere.

"It’s really good to have a lot of good climbers and to be around them and the opportunity to mix and mingle."

After only working in the industry for one year, Mr Kaihau has secured a place at the championship.

"There's three events based on speed, so you get timed on how fast you can do it," says Mr Kaihau.

"Then there’s two other events - a rescue climb to rescue someone out of a tree and the work placement climb which you move station to station in the tree."

The 23-year-old has recently acquired advanced qualifications as an arborist graduating from Manukau Institute of Technology with an advanced certificate in arboriculture.

His lecturer Zane Wedding says passion is the key to be a good arborist.

"Every student advances at a different stage, but he just grabbed the bull by the horns and ran with it.

“He definitely has a level of passion that not everybody has and so he's just gone from strength to strength."

Being an arborist runs in the family for Mr Kaihau, with his father having worked in the industry for the past 20 years.

"Back in our day we climbed a tree with just our hands and feet there was no safety gear, no ropes, no harness," says his father Pehi Kaihau.

"Most of us fell out of the tree, but somehow I managed to hold on a bit longer."

With his fastest climb just under four minutes, Mr Kaihau is hoping his can beat other up the tree to take out the top prize.

The competition will run today and tomorrow.

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Ngati Kaihau is one arborist competing today in the national tree climbing championship in Dunedin. Source: Te Karere

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