Cat Price wearing orange PPE, pictured on site

As one of only a few female high voltage cable jointers in New Zealand, Ventia's Cat Price knows what it's like to forge her own path. That same grit and determination was needed again recently when she successfully completed the New Zealand Electricity Supply (Cable Jointing Level 4) qualification.

Her achievement, which required two years of on-the-job training, was celebrated at a recent barbecue where Ventia Operations Manager Greg O'Sullivan also recognised her for the high-quality of her work throughout the wider Christchurch area.  

Greg says high voltage cable jointing is an art where accuracy and cleanliness are very important, especially when working with older paper lead cables. 

Cat describes her role as "kind of like a line mechanic but underground with bigger and dirtier cables."

And after 3.5 years working in the role, she still enjoys the satisfaction of getting rid of the out-of-date "big and bulky, rusty and dusty" gear in the electrical kiosks and replacing them with sleek new switches that can be controlled remotely. 

You have to be quite particular and careful with how you do things, it's important not to rush it.

Bringing New Zealand's electrical infrastructure into the 21st century

Cat says her work is all about bringing New Zealand's electrical infrastructure into the 21st century. The oldest kiosk she upgraded dated back to 1954, and the modern cabling, jointing and switch gear she installed means it now meets modern standards.  

"As technology in the world upgrades, we have to upgrade everything else as well."

What Cat loves most about her job though is the "tight-knit" team surrounding her, who gave her plenty of training and mentoring support as she worked towards her qualification.

"We are often working in close proximity, all together in a 2-3 metre hole, so there's not a lot of room for disagreements," she laughs. "If there are they get sorted out pretty quickly."

She says she also loves the variation in her job, including dismantling substations which is "heaps of fun", and a pleasant change from having to be "super careful" when you're working with the jointing of kiosks. 

I do enjoy the demo side of things - it lets the kid in me out.

Cat Price pictured on site

Cat Price is one of only a few female high voltage cable jointers in New Zealand.

The community liaison

Cat says the variety of the role is stretched further when curious members of the public want to find out more about what she and her team are up to or have questions about planned outages whilst important upgrades are being carried out. If her supervisor isn't around, she tends to be the go-to community liaison for the team - putting her well-developed communication skills to good use. 

Cat is the only female high voltage cable jointer currently working for Ventia, and one of only a handful of female cable jointers across all of New Zealand. While she this has never bothered her, she says she would encourage more women to join the industry in future.

She says she chose to work for Ventia because it was a well-established company which offered opportunities to work in different places around the country and provided potential to upskill. Her recent qualification has proved her right.