by Chris Tobin
The old adage that women can do anything is coming true in a garage in Pleasant Point.
Sammy Fiveash (21) has just qualified from Ara Timaru with a certificate in automotive engineering and has started her apprenticeship working at Aorangi Motors, where the boss is a woman.
While it is not entirely new for women to take up the trade, it is still rather rare for the boss to be a woman as well.
“I’ve always had an interest in cars and wanted to move in a different direction,” Ms Fiveash said.
She went to school at Mt Aspiring College in Wanaka and moved to Timaru with her partner.
“My original plan was to do beauty therapy. This is very different.”
Sole owner of Aorangi Motors for 23 years Sara Boyd said she was happy to give Ms Fiveash a go.
“We’ve had other poly students in the past who didn’t work out but she’s doing all right.
“She’s here to learn and she’s learning quickly but she doesn’t get any special treatment.”
Mrs Boyd said there had been a “stigma” associated with women’s involvement in a what was a male-dominated industry but attitudes were changing.
“Everyone is quite accepting and people say it’s good to see and that there should be more.”
Ms Fiveash said at first people were surprised to see her in the workshop.
“But I get comments like ‘yeah, that’s cool’.”
She enjoyed the variety of the job, which ranged from full engine reconditioning to working with tyre machinery, she said.
Much of the work was on farm trucks, although not large farm machinery.
“There’s always challenges not having experience, so straight away you do things.
“We have four to five experienced mechanics here and it’s great having their help.”
Ms Fiveash was also the only woman among the 24 students studying her course at Ara.
Her goal was to become her own boss – “long term I’d like to have my own workshop but I’ve got to save my pennies first.”