NZCB Apprentice Challenge Regional Competition Date: Saturday 6th April 2024

Apprentice Challenge Final:  Friday 21st – Saturday 22nd June 2024

Venue:  Tākina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre, WELLINGTON

Competitors will be tasked to complete a challenging project for a specific end-user within the allotted 8.0 hours. Thanks to ITM’s sponsorship, every competitor will receive a prize pack for participating and there are major prizes up for grabs.

The Apprentice Challenge is open to all Te Pūkenga students enrolled in the Level 4 NZ Certificate in Carpentry programme.

  • For NZCB Apprentice Network Trainee Members (free to join), entry to the 2024 NZCB Apprentice Challenge is FREE*.
  • For non-NZCB Apprentice Network Trainee Members, a $50 donation to the NZCB Apprentice Trust applies.

*NZCB Business Members wishing to sign their apprentices up for FREE NZCB Apprentice Network Trainee Membership, can do so via

Have you got what it takes to go all the way?

Entries close Monday 25th March 2024

Note: Entrants must be current apprentices as of 30 June 2024 and must be up to date with all apprenticeship training fees.


2023, Alex Erickson – Canterbury

Alex is a Managed Apprentice training with Te Pūkenga – Ara Institute of Canterbury.

If you asked me this time last year about taking part in the 2023 NZCB Apprentice Challenge
Sponsored by ITM, I would’ve told you that I most likely wouldn’t try again. I had a pretty
disastrous first attempt at the Canterbury regional challenge in 2022 which ended in me
feeling as if I needed to better myself a lot before I would consider retrying. Well, a lot can
happen in a year – a lot of personal and professional growth occurred, which made me feel a
bit better about the challenge… However I still wasn’t sold. But after a lot of pep talks with
my workmates and also my Ara apprenticeship assessor, Aaron Keech, I figured I would give
it a go again.

Since I was familiar with how the regional challenge went, I was able to be a lot more
relaxed and focus all of my attention on the build – a playhouse with an elevated floor,
climbing wall and pitched roof. It was an intense day but it was all worth it in the end, that
$500 prize from ITM was great!

Prior to the national challenge we were given brief details about what to expect and in this
time we were tasked with providing a formal covering letter, CV and work portfolio. It was
around now that I realised this is the real deal… I was about to be competing against the
best of the best apprentices from all over the country.

To ensure there was enough time to prepare, we also had to have our presentations ready –
a 2-3 minute speech with the topic “What is my favourite carpentry tool and why?” For a guy
who loves to joke around all the time this was a great opportunity to let my humour shine,
right? Wrong. My mind went completely blank for a few days while I tried to gather some
ideas. Spending the week at work didn’t help as much as I had hoped, either, I wasn’t able to
put my finger on just 1 tool that I loved more than the rest. After a lot of deliberation I landed
on the trusty orbital sander and the words just started flowing.

Fast-forward to the first official day of the national challenge – I just met the 20 incredible
apprentices I was up against and before we even had a chance for small talk we were sat
down at desks being told we had 2 hours to finish a written assessment that ‘We would
expect second year apprentices to be able to complete.’ Thanks Nick, no pressure.

After some chatter about how we all thought we did on the assessment, we were taken into
the room where the NZCB Conference & Expo was being held and saw the following day’s
challenge, but this time it was just for fun and didn’t play a part in our overall score. This was
the Great Apprentice Race, brought to us by Mitre 10. We were paired up with our hotel
roommates and tasked with building a trike and trailer using limited materials and tools. The
rules weren’t specifically that it had to have 3 wheels though, so the 4-wheeled bus that Sam
Keenan and I built was perfectly fine!

After the build phase on Friday morning we had some spare time – the race wasn’t until that
evening. Most of us spent our spare time walking around the expo, learning about a lot of
new products while also gathering a bunch of clothes, pencils and snacks.

Race time came around before we knew it but the bus that Sam and I built was poorly
engineered, resulting in it tipping over and losing a wheel (it’s a trike now!). The creativity of
the other groups was astounding, which really got me thinking that I was in trouble when it
came to our speeches. I was really hoping I could make my sander sound interesting now.
Needless to say, we didn’t win the race, but it was a great experience with nothing but smiles
and laughter.

After working myself up about the big, stressful interview I had coming up, the 3 judges
actually made it a very calm and relaxing environment. As I was the last interview I could
only hope that I left a good impression, surely they were getting bored after 21 interviews.
Following the interviews there was a small break that lead into presentation time for our
speeches, but with all the support from the other competitors it was more like talking to a
group of mates… a very large group of mates, most of which I hadn’t met because there was
an increasingly large number of people watching from the expo. It was pretty stressful but
2-3 minutes flew by.

The hard work was then over, we spent the rest of the afternoon getting to know each other
better and preparing for the big gala dinner where the winner would be announced. It was
clear that, although we had only just met a couple of days prior, there was unconditional care
and support for each other. After taking 1st place I would just like to thank everyone who has
been a part of this. There are too many people to list and I would hate to miss anyone but
none of it would be possible without NZCB and all of the great sponsors. It was a truly
unforgettable event and I couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone thinking about giving it a

I look forward to seeing you all at the 2024 NZCB Conference & Expo

Alex Erickson

2023 NZCB Apprentice Challenge, Sponsored by ITM, Winner.

2022, Josh Welsh – Whangarei

Josh an ITAB Apprentice enrolled with North Tec Tai Tokerau Wananga – Te Pukenga.  Josh is 27 and is employed by Whangarei Builders Limited in Whangarei.

Winners comment

The NZCB Apprentice Challenge 2022 sponsored by ITM will be ingrained in my memory forever. Although I was extremely nervous the need to stay confident and levelheaded stayed with me the entire weekend. Not only that, but the study and practice that I had put into this point all culminated in me being crowned the NZCB Apprentice Challenge 2022 Winner.

My road to nationals this year was driven by missing out in 2021 by one placing. This year I returned with the drive and willingness to win the regionals & head down to Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton to compete against some of the country’s best apprentices.

Disrupted by COVID the competition was postponed until November, which didn’t help the nerves. Upon arriving in Hamilton, I was greeted by my fellow competitors as we sat and waited for the impending trade exam, which I was most nervous about as I didn’t quite know what to expect. Up until this moment I has submitted a CV, Work Portfolio and prepared and practiced my presentation.

With the exam out of the way, I could breathe a little, however not for long as Nick Matthews explained the Mitre10 Great Apprentice race which would be taking place bright & early the next morning. It consisted of working in peers & constructing a Rickshaw to race against nine other teams, where I discovered I was paired with Josh Shoebridge from the Tauranga District.

Upon arrival at Claudelands the four hours went by in a flash & ten projects were lined up ready to go. The race wasn’t until 5pm so this gave me a chance to walk around the expo & awe at the multitude of stands. 5pm rolled around and after ten minutes of chaos and only one causality the race was over.

Saturday brought on a very nervous day as I had both my interview with the judges, followed by my speech. I was the last interview & I told myself “Now is your chance to smash it out of the park!”. I found the interview very comfortable and felt I could be myself. This allowed me to speak from the heart & share why I am on this journey. My speech was quickly after which I told myself to remain calm, confident and speak clearly. I personally felt very proud of myself, and with that it was left in the hands of the judges.

We arrived at the Gala, the event was beautifully decorated, and the tensions were high. After dinner & entertainment, we found ourselves front and center stage. Third place was called, then second. At this stage it felt like a moment ‘too good to be true’ so I had assumed that it would never happen to me. When first place was announced, I stood mouth wide open in amazement as all the hard work had paid off. Fighting back tears I delivered my thank you speech and left the stage in what felt like a blur.

I’d like to take the time to thank the New Zealand Certified Builders for giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills & intentions for the future, and the sponsors for making this a truly unforgettable weekend. I am thankful to have met some amazing people & made lifelong friends.

To all the other apprentices, you did a fantastic job & the future of the industry is in great hands.

Kia Ora Koutou Katoa


Joshua Welsh

2022 NZCB Apprentice Challenge, Sponsored by ITM, Winner.

2021, Marc Palmer – Mid & South Canterbury

Marc is an ITAB Apprentice enrolled with ARA Institute of Canterbury at the Timaru campus.  Marc is aged 21 and is employed by David Bay of Bayfields Limited, Southburn, South Canterbury.

Winners comment

When I entered the regional NZCB Apprentice Challenge Sponsored by ITM I had not the smallest idea I would be the 2021 winner.  But through a fair bit of planning and studying, I was successful and won the national title, something I thought was unreachable.

It all started at the regional Apprentice Challenge, this involved building a classic kiwi picnic table and I was ecstatic when announced as the winner of the Mid & South Canterbury region after I successfully used the whole eight hours to complete my masterpiece.  It was after the presentation at regionals that I made aware of what I had to produce in order to be in contention for the final.  I learnt I had to construct a work portfolio of jobs I had worked on as an apprentice, produce a CV complete with covering letter, conduct a interview with the NZCB Apprentice Challenge judging panel and present a speech.  To top it all off, there was a two hour exam on industry subjects that included the building code, legislation, practical theory and building calculations that are common on site.

When my name was called out as the winner, I was overwhelmed with excitement, shock and a whole lot of disbelief.  This was the end of a challenging 3 days and I had surpassed my own expectations which was unbelievable.  I would like to thank New Zealand Certified Builders and the sponsors in their creation of the event.  It will be something I’ll forever be thanks for.

Tena rawa atu koe, thank you all.


Marc Palmer

Winner – 2021 NZCB Apprentice Challenge

2019, Cedric Folaumoetu’i – Auckland

Cedric is an ITAB apprentice employed by Kiwi Construction Limited in St Johns, Auckland.  Cedric believes an apprentice should be committed, have honesty and show diligence.

Winners comment

I was assigned with the overwhelming task of competing against 19 other regional finalists from all over NZ. All competently skilled, talented and had something unique to bring to the table. This was by no means going to be a ‘walk in the park’ and that the competition really lived up to its name. The poignant words of my Tongan-born parents ‘ai e mata e peni ke iloa’ reverberated constantly in my ear, which loosely translates in English ‘make the ink of the ball-point pen stand out’. The message was simple, study and education! Therefore, I knew that I was going to have to put on my designers hat and approach the whole thing in a different manner and was very lucky to have come away as the victor. – Cedric Folaumoetu’i 

2018, Matt Hatchard – Northland

Matt is an ITAB apprentice and is employed by Fox Build in Russell.  Matt says an apprentice needs a strong work ethic, the ability to focus while listening and must stay humble.  Matt says his greatest strength is his passion for the trade, as he gave up his career in marketing to follow his dream and become a carpenter.

Winners comment

To win your regional competition building a turreted castle playhouse, drawbridge included was hard enough, but it’s just really the beginning… I am humbled and proud that in the midst of this great group of fellow apprentices I managed to pull through and take home to Northland, the Ken Read Memorial Trophy.  At a time when anecdotally builders are struggling to find good (qualified) carpenters to cover the workload, I had been surrounded by our top future carpenters. – Matt Hatchard

2017, Chris McLean – Otago

Chris is an ITAB apprentice employed by Just Build It Ltd in Dunedin.  Chris thinks an apprentice should have a good attitude, be able to do jobs without complaining, be honest when completing their timesheet and have a high standard of workmanship.

Winners comment

I am extremely thankful to be part of the challenge, and to get a glimpse of the growth and development of ITAB and NZCB as a whole. I plan to remain well involved in both groups and maintain my passion of wanting to teach the next generation. To fellow apprentices, remember – high standard gives pride in our work and minimum wage doesn’t mean minimum effort, but maximum effort gives amazing opportunities. – Chris McLean

2016, Clement Richer – Auckland

Clement works for Smith & Sons Epsom Ltd in Auckland. Clement believes an apprentice should be interested in learning every day.

Winners comment

All the finalists were quality apprentices, sharing the same passion for building, with no doubt a bright future in this industry. The competition was tough; no one could have picked a clear favorite. As far as I am concerned, I met ten great men coming from diverse backgrounds in the hopes of becoming the 2016 Apprentice of the Year. They are a credit to the apprenticeship Programme and the industry will thrive with builders of this caliber. – Clement Richer