Budding Hawke's Bay builder William Harkness was last night named Registered Master Builders Carters 2013 Apprentice of the Year.
The 22-year-old former Hastings Boys High School student from Havelock North had won the Bay of Plenty-Hawke's Bay region title in August and claimed the national honours and prizes worth over $20,000 following a six-hour practical test in Auckland.
Each of the nine finalists had to build a children's playhouse for charity, with the one made by Mr Harkness, who is employed by Redmond Building and Construction, gifted to ChoiceKidsCARES.
His prizes include use of a Ford Ranger XLT vehicle for the duration of his reign as apprentice of the year, plus an Apple iPad, a $5000 Carters Business Tools Grant, and a tool and safety gear pack worth $1000.
Judges commented he had proven himself a real all-rounder "which is exactly what apprentice of the year is all about".
"He's confident and showed great knowledge of his project, topping that off with a great performance in the practical judging component," they said, adding that a "good balance of speed and quality workmanship" made Mr Harkness a worthy winner.
The nine finalists from around the country were put through their paces over the two days of the national competition, undergoing a 45-minute interview with the judging panel, followed by the practical judging component in front of friends, family and the public.
The presentation took place last night at a gala dinner at The Cloud in Auckland.
Minister for Building and Construction Maurice Williamson and key representatives from the building and construction industry attended.
Registered Master Builders chief executive Warwick Quinn said it was a pleasure to support the 100 carpentry apprentices who had taken part in the regional competitions, and the finalists had proven themselves as the construction industry's future leaders.
Palmerston North apprentice Jonathan Yorke, 22, was runner-up and Andrew Higgins, 24, of Nelson, was third.