A local Samoan father and son won two top tiers at a New Zealand national meat processing contest in Christchurch early this Month.
Toetu Lepua’s butchery skills led him to the New Zealand meat industry in 2008.
He was joined by son Siaosi (George) at Silver Fern Farms (SFF) Finegand in 2014, and like many co›workers far from home, the men work together through the long freezer seasons to help support family back in the islands.
“From start to finish, boning out one carcass can be done in about ten minutes, but quality is important. Everybody wants to see clean, white bones,” Toetu, who also teaches trainees, said.
New Zealand’s lamb and beef has a high reputation in export markets and boning is one of the most respected and best paid freezing works positions.
This year was the tenth meat processing contest, and Toetu netted first prize with his second appearance.
George, who mostly handles lamb, took second place on his debut at the competition.
Besides earning prestige for themselves and Finegand, the men took home trophies and cash prizes. ‘‘The work was difficult to start with, but now it’s like chilling around friends with the radio on. ‘‘At the competition I was nervous, focused, like before a big sports game,’’ George said.
He also had a message on behalf of his countrymen and co›workers. ‘‘I’d like to encourage the boys
— don’t hide your skills. ‘‘A lot of Samoans dream about coming here for jobs like ours, so it’s up to us to show, as well as hard workers, we can also be the best,’’ he said.
Toetu said their work in New Zealand helped support a lot of families back in Samoa, whom they were keen to see again at the end of the season.
“A butcher in Apia might make about $NZ200 a week, which is good in Samoa, but in New Zealand we can earn a lot more.
‘‘We want to see our kids have everything they need at home and school.
‘‘We are grateful to SFF for their opportunity and help.’’
› A lot of Samoans dream about coming here for jobs like ours, so it’s up to us to show, as well as hard workers, we can also be the best. ›