WORLD FORKLIFT LEAGUE (WFL) – the world’s first nationally televised forklift driver championship – premieres on Māori Television on Thursday, August 6 at 8pm.
Five teams, made up of a forklift operator plus one or two support crew, from companies including Fonterra, Cadbury and PlaceMakers will take part in the 11-week elimination series hosted by comedian Mike King.
King, a former forklift driver “from way back in the days when you didn’t need a licence”, says the competition was great fun.
“I was pretty good at it, but these guys were absolutely fantastic and very skilled.”
Veteran broadcaster Dale Husband provides play-by-play commentary during the series, which is set in Dunedin at seven iconic locations: The Octagon, Port Otago, Taieri Airfield, the Chinese Garden, Gasworks Museum, Vogel Street, and the Dunedin Railway Station.
All teams use a Crown C-5 Series LPG truck to perform challenges including “forklift golf”, which requires drivers to lift and navigate a giant golf ball around obstacles and onto the green and “sugar rush”, where drivers must pick-up and drop giant sugar cubes into an oversized cup of coffee.
Producer Brendon Butt, of Dunedin-based Kahawai Productions, says WFL is a show the whole family can enjoy.
“It’s a good fun celebration of the factory floor workers who are often the unsung heroes in our community.”
WORLD FORKLIFT LEAGUE premieres on Thursday August 6 at 8pm on Māori Television.
Kane Te Kooro Lawrence - Christchurch/Fonterra
At 23, Kane (Ngāti Raukawa) is the youngest competitor in the competition. He has been driving forklifts since he was 17. He operated forklifts in salt mines, and meat works in Australia, and now drives for Fonterra in Christchurch.
Nikora (Nick) Mahima - Rotorua/ISO
Nick (Tūhourangi, Te Arawa) is representing Tūhourangi from Rotorua. He got his break as a forklift operator through his rugby league coach who was also the manager at the local sawmill. He is the proud owner of a Fatboy Harley Davidson and rides for the Tangata Whenua Motorcycle Club in Rotorua.
Eli Martin - Tauranga/ Fonterra
Eli (Ngāti Rauru, Ngāti Maniapoto) has 11 years’ experience behind the forks and has been operating for Fonterra in Tauranga for five years. He is a competitive dancer, performing various styles including west coast swing, salsa and some sirocco and a keen karaoke singer.
Penny Yurjevic - Dunedin/Cadbury
Penny, the only female operator in the competition, has been operating forklifts for eight years. She met her husband Craig at Pak n Save, and trained him up on the forklift. She enjoys the challenge of operating forklifts for a job, the different forklifts she gets to use and “likes to drive fast but safe”.
Tony ‘BroTown’ Rowe - Duendin/Placemakers
Tony has been operating forklifts for 28 years, having grown up on a farm where his dad had trucks and forklifts. Outside of work, Tony is an old school skateboarder, and stencil artist – using discarded house paint and wrecked pallets as his art materials. He sells his colourful wooden stencil-art for $10-$20 around town.
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