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The Circle of (Work) Life

Becoming an apprentice Alloy Boat Builder was not even on Liam Waymouth’s radar when he was at school. He didn’t know much about boats but has been on a steep learning curve since he started working at Blackdog Cat NZ, 3 years ago.

Located in Whangarei, Blackdog Cat build a versatile range of aluminium pontoon catamarans and have over 10 models ranging from 5.0m – 6.7m. Liam’s work with sheet metal includes operating the CNC router, folding, and welding the aluminium and installing components into the boats. The most enjoyable aspect of the job is the crew he works with. Some days can be tough, but the team help each other out and work together to tackle the task at hand.

As a capable all-rounder at Whangarei Boys High School, Liam was strong in maths and art, but it was his passion for engineering and Design Visual Communication (DVC) that assisted him most to understand the basic elements required in his role as an apprentice. Liam was introduced to the industry via the Marine and Specialised Technologies Academy of New Zealand (MAST Academy), through the Launch it, School to Work programme. His engineering teacher recognised the talent Liam demonstrated in the classroom and was confident that this would transfer well into a work environment. Through the initiative, Liam was able to trial work while still attending school and experience an authentic taste of worklife in the industry. The Launch it, School to Work programme allowed Liam to transition into fulltime employment along with an Alloy Production Boatbuilding Apprenticeship.

Liam is the first to admit that the transition from school to work was nerve wracking. There was a new team of people to meet, numerous new skills to learn and this was a big step up from being a student at school. However, with his practical capabilities and prior knowledge, Liam added his skills to the team and fit in well with the rest of the staff. The rest is history - Liam soon recognised that this was a great career choice for him and an excellent pathway to the future, offering numerous opportunities once qualified.

With the completion of his qualification on the horizon next year, Liam has a new challenge to keep him on his toes. He has stepped into a training role, supporting the new Launch it, School to Work employee at Blackdog Cat, Taonga Stanish. Having done the full circle from student to trainee, apprentice and now trainer, Liam is enjoying the added responsibility and remembers fondly being the new guy in the workshop. He will happily admit that the biggest challenge during his time as an apprentice himself was finding time to complete his unit standards, being the last thing he felt like doing in his free time. However, he quickly learned that putting his head down and getting on with it was well worth it. This knowledge is helping shape him into a great trainer, capable of supporting Taonga through his assessment and practical work and future apprenticeship journey.

For further information about the diverse range of apprenticeships available through MAST Academy and the Launch it, School to Work programme available nationwide to Y12 and Year 13 students, refer to our website at or pop us an email at


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