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Chris McLean returned from Auckland at the weekend with the New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) Association Apprentice Challenge title, after last month winning the regional competition in Dunedin.
Mr McLean (27) said the win was ``a surprise, a huge surprise for me'', considering the quality of the apprentices from the other 14 regions at the final.
Apprentices were given a practical challenge in the regional competition, where they were required to build a high-spec outdoor table and bench seating unit within a set time-frame.
The skills required in Auckland were a little different, Mr McLean said.
Before the event he was required to put together a covering letter, update his CV and complete a portfolio of work done along with photos of the work sites.
Once there, the third-year apprentice, who also has a bachelor of physical education degree from the University of Otago, had a 20-minute interview with three judges.
``The interview was fine. You've just got to be yourself.''
Some of the apprentices were more nervous about a five-minute presentation on a building task they had done unsupervised, or had taken a lead role on, in a room of 150 builders and judges.
``You can imagine that's something apprentices don't get to do.
``Luckily for me I've been an MC at some weddings, so I've had a bit of practice at speaking in front of people.''
Mr McLean said the work he had put in before the championship also helped.
``It was just a result of an incredible month for me.
``Every night I was working on this.''
He won more than $3000 worth of prizes, including a tool kit he would need for his career and had been saving for, but did not expect to get for a few years.