Apprentices go head to head

The battle to be named the southern region’s top tradie kicked into high gear in Queenstown on Saturday.

Fifteen apprentices from Otago, the Central Lakes region, Gore and Southland converged at Carters to test their skills in a practical challenge.

At the same time, their counterparts all over the country were embarking on the same challenge in a variety of different centres.

Southern Master Builders regional branch and events manager Jennifer Marriott said all the apprentices had done two years, but must not have been signed off by the time entries opened.

The three-step process involved entrants completing a project submission, judged by four regional judges, before Saturday’s practical challenge — to build a bench seat in two hours — which was kept under wraps until the timer started.

Mrs Marriott said two practical judges examined the finished product, inspecting the work including accuracy and building to best trade practices.

They also looked at how they kept their site tidy, the condition of their tools, health and safety and how they managed the process.

Building apprentices Chris Miller, of Dunedin, foreground, and James Isted-Salmon, of Queenstown,...
Building apprentices Chris Miller, of Dunedin, foreground, and James Isted-Salmon, of Queenstown, compete during the southern region practical skills challenge, part of the Registered Master Builder Apprentice of the Year, at Carters Queenstown on Saturday morning. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
The 15 were cut to 10 on Saturday. The 10 go on to site visits and interviews.

That stage was designed to test apprentices’ leadership skills and knowledge, including their understanding of the Building Code, health and safety and licensing procedures.

After that, the three separate scores would be combined to determine the regional winner, to be announced in August, Mrs Marriott said.

That person would go through to the national competition, being held in Auckland in November.

While she did not believe the Southern region had had a national winner, it had made the top three.

Given the high standard of the entrants on Saturday, however, she hoped this "might be the year".